- Heal the worse blemishes with the Spot Healing Brush set to Normal, and Content-Aware.
- Duplicate the healed layer twice. Name the first layer “Blur”, name the second, top layer: “Texture”.
- Turn off the visibility of the Texture layer, and click on the Blur layer, and go to Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur. Blur until you cannot see any texture on the face.
- Click on the “Texture” layer, and make it visible.
- Go to: Image/Apply Image.
- For 8 bit images: SOURCE: Blur, Channel: RGB. No Invert, TARGET: Texture, Blend: Subtract, Scale: 2, Offset: 128.
- For 16 Bit images: TARGET: Blur, Channel: RGB. Invert Ticked, TARGET: Texture, Blend: Add, Scale: 2, Offset: 0.
- Change the “Texture” Layer Blend Mode to Linear Light. Now the image will appear as if it has been unchanged.
- Create a new layer between “Texture”, and “Blur”, and call it Paint, or similar.
- Check your Eyedropper Tool setting, has the following setting: Sample all Layers, and 3 x 3 Sample size.
- Using a soft, round Brush, constantly sampling by (Alt or Option-clicking) and painting to blend the colour of the face giving the face an even skin tone.
Heal the worse
Duplicate the layer if necessary, i.e. if you have only a Background Layer. Name the Layer “Heal”
Not every face is the same, but the Spot Healing Brush Tool (J) is by far and away the best tool for getting rid of the worse blemishes.
For average skin, the settings are: Normal and Content-Aware
If faces are heavily lined, removing lines completely will make for an obviously ‘Shopped’ image. You can help the process by using the Spot Healing brush in Lighten mode, to take away the dark edges of a wrinkle, or line.
Be careful, too much healing will make for an unreal look. A lot can be achieved by using the paintbrush when we come to even out the colour across the face later on.
We can use the Healing Brush Tool, and the Patch Tool, if necessary. I have never had the need to use either, even on the most blemished skin.
We now need to Duplicate the “Heal” layer twice, naming the first duplicate: “Blur”, and the second, topmost duplicate layer: “Texture”. Keyboard Shortcut: Cmd/Ctrl + Alt/Opt + J
Turn off the Visibility (eye) of the “Texture” layer.
Select the “Blur” layer. Go to Filter/Blur/Gaussian Blur, and blur the layer until no texture on the skin can be seen.
Select the “Texture” layer, and go to Image/Apply Image. There are two different methods for both 16-bit, and 8-bit images. If you are in any doubt, go to Image/Mode to check what the bit depth your image has.
Warning: Ensure your Source layer is Blur, not Merged.
For 8 Bit images:
For 16 Bit Images
Don’t forget the ‘Invert’
Change the Layer Blend Mode
Change the blend mode of the Texture layer to Linear Light. The image will now look exactly the same as the “Heal” layer, unchanged. But now, the texture is on one layer. We now need to work between the “Texture”, and Blur Layer.
Painting – the Most Important Section
It’s all very well having the texture on a separate layer if you don’t why you’ve done it.
The reason we have a separate texture layer is to ensure we don’t touch it. It’s the texture of the skin that leads to a normal image result. Not an obvious Photoshopped one.
What we need to do is create a layer between the ‘Blur’, and ‘Texture’ layer on which we will do our retouching. Call this layer “Paint”
Go to the Eyedropper Tool, (the letter “I” on your keyboard), and ensure you have a 3 x 3, or 5 x 5 Average, as a sample size. Make sure Sample is set to Current and Below.
Go to the Brush Tool, and ensure you have Flow set to 10% in the options bar.
Press the letter “B” on your keyboard, now with a soft round brush set at 0% hardness, we need to press the Alt/Option key and click down on an area to sample the colour.
Keep sampling, and painting with the aim to merge the colours of the face.
You are looking to merge areas of colour, not give the same colour to the whole face. Let’s say the skin is sunburnt on the nose. Try, and sample an unburnt area nearby to use to cover the redness of the sunburnt areas.
You should be constantly sampling to make sure you are feathering areas of colour helping them to merge into other areas of colour on the face. Try and sculpt the face using differing shades, and tints of the skin colour – not always easy.
If you can’t sculpt the face, it’s probably best to create a stamp layer by either: Cmd/Ctrl E or create a Stamp Layer by using: Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E (Windows) or Shift+Command+Option+E (Mac) then use Dodge and Burn to sculpt the face.
And honestly, I only spent less than 5 minutes on the painting.