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How to Smooth Skin in Photoshop

It has become essential for photographers to learn how to smooth skin in Photoshop. It is a useful skill and can help you get that radiant, smooth skin in all your portraits.

For graphic designers and photographers, learning professional skin retouching in Photoshop can come in very handy. In this tutorial, we are going to discuss different methods you can use to get a beautiful skin in portraits. We are going to cover in detail how to retouch photographs in Photoshop.

This tutorial was designed for beginners but it can also help professionals revise their knowledge and pick up something new. So let’s get started.

How to Smooth Skin in Photoshop

If you want to fix the skin texture in Photoshop, or learn how to soften skin in Photoshop, there are several retouching tools and filters that can help you get the desired results.

Learning how to smooth skin in Photoshop can help you remove pesky pimples, freckles, dust particles or any other marks to get that beautiful, perfect portrait every time. Whether its wedding photographs or model shoots, you can use professional skin retouching in Photoshop.

Some people worry that skin enhancing techniques can give your photographs a fake appearance, but if you do it right, you won’t have to worry about that. In this tutorial we are going to discuss some of the most popular Photoshop skin retouching methods. In the end we will discuss which one is the best. Let’s begin.

Skin Smoothing Using the Blur Tool in Photoshop

Blur Tool is a built-in tool to fix the skin texture in Photoshop. It is rather easy to use, but it does not give you a lot of control over the blurring effect. Here’s how you can use it for removing blemishes in Photoshop;

Step 1: Open the Image

Open the portrait photo in Photoshop.

Step 2: Pick the Blur Tool

The icon for the Blur Tool looks like a water droplet, and you can find it in the Toolbar. Click on the tool to select it.

Step 2: Pick the blur Tool

 Step 3: Duplicate Layer

In order to use the Blur Tool, you must duplicate the layer with the image. Right click on the Layer and click on the option that says Duplicate. Name it whatever you want.

Step 4: Blur the Blemishes

With your duplicate layer selected from the Layer panel, zoom into your image. Take the Strength of the Blur Tool to 100% from the top. Slowly start going over your image where the blemishes are. Take it slow. Repeat until you are satisfied.

You can compare the right and left to see the results of using Blur Tool on this image. A problem with using Blur Tool is if some areas require more blurring, you can’t do anything about it. It can leave some marks.

How to smooth skin With Healing Brush Tool in Photoshop

If you want to learn how to smooth skin in Photoshop, you have to try the Healing Tools. The Spot Healing Brush Tool and the Healing Brush Tool sample the pixels around the area and blend the problem region with surrounding pixels.

Unlike the Spot Healing Brush Tool, the Healing Brush Tool allows you to choose which pixels you want to sample. You can use the two tools together to get your desired results.

Step 1: Pick the Healing Brush Tool

The icon for Healing Brush Tool looks like a bandage and it’s pretty much how it works in removing blemishes in Photoshop.

Step 1: Pick the Healing Brush Tool

Step 2: Duplicate Layer

Just as we did for the Blur Tool, you have to duplicate the layer with the image to use it.

Step 3: Heal the Blemishes

You can try using the Spot Healing Brush Tool over blemishes first. Make sure the size of brush is small. Zoom in and click on a mark. It will create a blurring effect.

If the result is not to your satisfaction, you can undo, and go in with the Healing Brush Tool. This way you can also choose the pixels you want to blend the region with.

First press Alt on keyboard and click on a clear region to select a sample. Next, click over the problem areas to blend it with the sampled pixels.

Sometimes when you go close to boundary such as near hair, the pixels can be blended with the darker shade and create dark, messy marks as you can see in the image below

Also Learn, How to Deselect in Photoshop

Skin Smoothing Using the High-Pass Filter in Photoshop

If you want to know how to smooth skin in Photoshop, the best method to use is the High Pass Filter. This filter is great for professional skin retouching in Photoshop. It takes a series of steps to achieve the desired results and it can be a little time consuming.

Here’s how you can smooth skin with the High Pass filter.

Step 1: Duplicate Layer

The first step is to duplicate the layer with the image. Right click on the layer name and click on ‘Duplicate Layer’.

Step 2: Use Blur Tool

Go in with the Blur Tool or Spot healing Tool to remove the smaller blemishes.

Step 3: Duplicate Layer Again

Duplicate the layer you have fixed blemishes on. We are going to name it “Smooth Skin”.

Step 4: Add High Pass Filter

Now add a filter over your image. You can do this by going to the ‘Filter’ menu on top. Click on Other-> High Pass.

Step 4: Add High Pass Filter

Choose the radius value of 5 to 25, depending on how far your image is. For close-ups use higher value of radius and lesser for others. Click OK.

Once you apply the High Pass Filter your image will turn mostly grey.

Step 5: Add Gaussian Blur

Now we are going to use another filter that can be useful if you want to learn how to smooth skin in Photoshop. The Gaussian Filter can add a blurring effect on your images.

Go back to Filter menu. Go to Blur-> Gaussian.

Set the radius value to one-third of the value you used for High Pass Filter. For instance, if you used the value of 6 in High Pass filter, you should now use a value of 2.

Click OK. This will add a blur over your image.

Step 6: Change Blending Mode

Now change the blending mode of layer with the filters to “Linear Light”. You can do this from above the Layer Panel or by clicking on the layer and opening the Blending Options.

Step 6: Change Blending Mode

This will make your image look over sharpened and high-contrast. But we will fix that soon.

Step 7: Invert Layer

Now go to Image menu on the top. Click on Adjustments->Invert.

Doing this will convert your image to a really blurry image.

Step 8: Change Blending Options

Now open the Blending Options.

Notice the panel at the bottom under “Blend If” that says “This Layer”. We want to change the values of dark and light halos on this panel.

But we do not want to completely change these values. So click on the dark cursor and press “Alt” on your keyboard. Click on one of the cursor. Now drag half of the cursor towards other side.

Do the same with the other side.

Blending Options

This is what your image will look like at this point.


Step 9: Add a Layer Mask

So far we have applied all the effects over the entire image. To limit the effects to the skin we will add a Layer Mask.

Go to the bottom of the Layer Panel and find the option that says Add a Layer Mask. Press “Alt” on your keyboard and click on it. This will add a black layer mask over your image.

Step 9: Add a Layer Mask

Step 10: Paint over Layer Mask

Pick the paint brush tool and select the colour white. Now start painting over your layer mask to reveal a smooth skin from beneath.

Reduce the brush size and slowly paint over the problematic areas.

Lower the Layer Opacity to 50%.

That’s it. You have learned how to smooth skin in Photoshop using the High Pass filter. This is what the final result looks like:

Why the High Pass Filter is Great for Smoothing Skin?

High Pass Filter is great for sharpening images in Photoshop. But if you want to learn how to smooth skin in Photoshop, the High Pass Filter works great for that too.

This filter can highlight edges or boundaries in the image. With this filter, you can detect the edges and smoothen the regions around them without completely blurring the facial features. The reason why the high pass filter is great for smoothing skin is it removes blemishes without blurring facial features.

You can retouch your photos without that fake effect on them. That is why the High Pass filter is preferred by the graphic designers around the world.

Final Verdict

In this tutorial, we looked at different methods of Photoshop skin retouching. We observed different built-in tools and also discussed why the high pass filter is great for smoothing skin.

We hope you found this tutorial helpful. There is much you can do once you learn how to smooth skin in Photoshop. You can use one of the methods we have discussed above for removing blemishes in Photoshop, or fix the skin texture in Photoshop.

This detailed guide covered everything you need to know, but you must practice what you have learned here. So, don’t forget to keep practicing and soon you will become a pro at Photoshop.

Luis Ryan
Luis Ryan

Luis Ryan is a skilled graphic designer who helps clients of marketing and advertising agencies with his creativity in designing enormous expertise in photoshop. Before starting a professional career, Ryan has completely grasped Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and thus he is determined to become a versatile designer for clients.

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