ugaldew's blog

Professional Retouching

posted by ugaldew, May 16, 2006 6:15 AM — 78 comments

This is a visual tutorial for professional skin retouching . Isn’t it just beautiful the soft texture of models’ skins in magazines and yet the definition it has ? When you have finished reading this tutorial you will have pretty similar results , in 5 easy steps !! You will need Photoshop for this one and one edition takes over 4 minutes

It will go step by step over the process so you can do it with your own pics

I will use Monica’s Portrait of Partytime at SXC

Download this practice's PSD file (0.7MB)

Lets get started

>> Step 1

Open the Monica portrait image and duplicate the layer ( layer/duplicate layer ) or left click in background layer

>> Step 2

Select the duplicated layer (background copy ) and add “Gaussian Blur” (filter / blur / Gaussian blur ) It hast to look rather blurry , don’t worry in the next step the image will be back to normal , and if you don’t feel satisfied in the next steps , you can add more blur at any moment of the process

Example of how blur it gets compared to the original

>> Step 3

Set the layer’s opacity value to 50%. (layers / layer style / blending options ) or double click the layer in the layer palette

The opacity value can go from 30% to 60% it will determine how soften the pic will be

>> Step 4

So far we have achieved to get the softness of the skin however , all the details such as eyes lips and nose look bury so we have to :

Add a mask in the layer we have been working into (background copy)

Then select the soft brush tool select Color Black In case it is not the color of the brush already and brush the details you want to sharpen such as eyes , lips , hair , nose , I recomend the brush with at least 50 % of opacity to have a more gentle sharpening

>> Step 5

The last step but not least is , is to modify the curves , when we add some light to the texture layer the results are magic so lets end this .

Go to (image / adjust / Curves )

I add some light to the upper face I want to keep the low light feeling , but you can add as much as necessary

This is it !! it should look like this :

Final Work

Before & After


I hope you have found this tutorial useful , this technique has been of great use to me and I hope it is for you

Please let me know if you find some misuses of the language !

Miguel Ugalde Ugaldew

Comments | RSS

1. posted by muddam, Mar 31, 2007 1:03 PM

Cool one. I liked it very much. I have tried with one photograph with the given techniques. It has come out well.

Thanks & Cheers !

2. posted by arela, Sep 9, 2006 1:00 AM

nice tutorial. I love it. It's very helpful for beginers like me :)

3. posted by Slantsixx, May 16, 2006 7:56 AM

Split image copy! ;) JK
Just too bad i don't have photoshop.

4. posted by deste, May 16, 2006 8:59 AM

Very interesting tutorial! I don't have time to test it now, but I'll do it soon. Thanks for your work. :-)

5. posted by sjtoh, May 16, 2006 2:17 PM

The sample image is too small to work on.

6. posted by ugaldew, May 16, 2006 6:17 PM

Yes I resized it to be lighter file , but the process is really easy. I added the prctice file , so users could see the blur , and the light and the mask and and all those references that are better is explain in the original PSD . Rather to base on it than to work on it

7. posted by Daino_16, May 18, 2006 8:08 AM

Fantastic tute, man! Thanks a bunch!

8. posted by Jakepimp, May 18, 2006 2:28 PM

absolutely amazing .. i did most of my photos and now they look like the ones in the magazines
lame ass models


9. posted by eka1293, May 24, 2006 4:05 PM

wow. this tutorial is just awesome.

10. posted by mattosense, May 27, 2006 11:22 PM

This tutorial is seriously cool! I would never have known how to get these effects until I read this. Keep the tutorials coming! :P

11. posted by matchstick, May 30, 2006 3:43 PM

*thumbs up*

You are one useful SXCer ;) Ill be using this one as well... such a simple method, Ive been doing things in such a complex way....

Nice! :D

12. posted by nita, Dec 2, 2006 11:18 AM

Thanks a lot for this tutorial very helpful!

13. posted by prameesh, Dec 2, 2006 2:56 PM

Great. Thanks a lot

14. posted by starhunter, Dec 2, 2006 11:58 PM


15. posted by fresh-m, Jul 6, 2006 7:53 PM

Very cool! Thx a lot!

16. posted by alx_drakko, Jul 21, 2006 11:35 AM

Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

17. posted by Srini007, Jul 22, 2006 1:02 PM

Thankyou very much great tutorial I reallywanted to retouch my photos.

18. posted by DallyDilly, Jul 25, 2006 10:20 AM

Looks amazing, can't wait to try it out . Thanks!

19. posted by mikeet, Aug 3, 2006 8:14 PM

I am going to try it right now!!!

20. posted by corser1, Aug 6, 2006 5:24 AM

Great tutorial... I was always afraid to work with "model" type imagery but you definitely showed me that it's not difficult at all to achieve a useful finished product. Thank you much!!!

21. posted by guigow__, Aug 9, 2006 3:01 AM

awesome tutorial! congratz

22. posted by vjtom, Aug 9, 2006 4:20 AM

wow this tutorial coollllll :)))

23. posted by onlinenow, Aug 14, 2006 4:23 PM


24. posted by VijayDave, Aug 24, 2006 6:00 AM

I have do retouching procedure into a small-small area of the face. See my examples at the following link: ishes.html

25. posted by nimbuz, Sep 5, 2006 6:27 PM


26. posted by allanw, Sep 8, 2006 12:53 AM

Cool! I've been using a very similar technique for years: just set the blurred layer to 'Overlay', and you get a more stylised, contrasty effect - works well if the image is a bit washed out.

27. posted by leonbidon, Sep 9, 2006 5:18 PM

Darned this tutorial is good. At last a good and simple technique that I will use a lot.

28. posted by SoulMasked, Sep 13, 2006 2:27 PM

nice 1 m8, u make it seem so easy, keep it up buddy!

29. posted by arsrain, Sep 14, 2006 11:35 AM

simple enough, but the results are far not realistic. Try "overlay" and "soft light" blending modes on the upper level.

30. posted by pukalski, Sep 26, 2006 1:37 AM

"1. posted by Slantsixx, May 16, 2006 7:56 AM

Split image copy! ;) JK
Just too bad i don't have photoshop."

Why do o use GIMP - free and good enought instead Photoshop.

31. posted by Kurapica, Sep 28, 2006 5:13 PM

veeryyyyyyy nice!!

32. posted by dnangel, Nov 1, 2006 9:54 PM


33. posted by cxsharp, Nov 11, 2006 5:13 AM

this is SPECTACULAR!!! thank you so very much.

34. posted by arela, Nov 15, 2006 6:48 PM

This has been very helpful, thanks a lot :))

35. posted by danihell, Nov 26, 2006 1:59 AM

awesome tip, u rock!
tnks a lot

36. posted by rioalba, Dec 14, 2006 4:19 PM


37. posted by tpad, Jan 5, 2007 12:10 PM

this tutorial is very helpful.
awesome tutorial!

38. posted by xSovereign, Jan 9, 2007 12:37 AM

Nice Tutorial, I like it. I've seen a similar one awhile back but for PSP except it didn't have the curves. But you can do the same thing on PSP if you know how to use it. But I have both, Anyways I like this tutorial and will be using it in the future.

39. posted by stefanies, Jan 9, 2007 10:46 AM

Very nice, thank you!

40. posted by azvin, Feb 9, 2007 3:27 PM

Thanks for sharing this tip!!!

41. posted by mullybinks, Feb 11, 2007 3:13 PM

Thats really clever! ;)

42. posted by nhtbdll, Feb 12, 2007 6:50 PM

güzel bi e?itim sunumu ellerinize sa?l?k

43. posted by ZildjianAV, Feb 15, 2007 2:53 AM

you rock !

44. posted by gokercy61, Mar 9, 2007 10:20 PM

This is amazing, thanks...

45. posted by farmer_tml, Mar 20, 2007 9:23 PM

This Also works really well if you use the MEDIAN filter which i think is located at Noise -> Median..

Median makes the skin super smooth, almost too much if you over do it, i tend to use around about ... 3 -5.8 :)
Hope this helps

46. posted by fofo_77, Mar 21, 2007 3:55 PM

ohhh,good work

47. posted by papaleguas, Mar 21, 2007 10:48 PM

Fenomenal! Thanks

48. posted by kpark43, Mar 28, 2007 12:14 AM

This is great! I was trying some of those techniques but I kept making people look like plastic so I'm glad to see how I can complete my failed attempts at retouching!

49. posted by mxa, Apr 2, 2007 12:37 PM


50. posted by mov, Apr 4, 2007 11:35 PM

easy simple wonderful

51. posted by essenza, Apr 20, 2007 10:10 PM

This is very nice for a simple method of achieving some skin smoothing. However, I would hesitate to call it a "professional" technique. There are more refined and complicated processes that achieve a greater degree of control and realism, especially on high-res shots. As a professional, I don't know of anyone in the industry who smoothes skin using only Gaussian Blur and a layer mask. But for amateur work? Excellent! Nicely written tutorial, I especially like your addition of the curves adjustment. :-)

52. posted by dav44, Apr 25, 2007 11:34 AM

Very usefull!! Thanks for sharing.

53. posted by tnt2br2, May 9, 2007 8:02 AM

Can you put one tutorial with GIMP ?

54. posted by Hellz_Bell, Jun 4, 2007 8:57 PM

this is a really simple yet effective technique, thanks for the tut.

55. posted by porah, Jun 6, 2007 9:35 AM

Ooooh, thanks! I've always had problems with skin. :)
It's very useful!

56. posted by ashieebo, Jul 9, 2007 12:39 AM

nice tutorial, very helpful! now all my friends and i can look very nice xDD thanks!

57. posted by kinokunya, Jul 20, 2007 5:23 AM

zomg this is quality stuff

58. posted by corredor47, Jul 25, 2007 5:49 PM

amazing.. thku very useful !

59. posted by JasonBroom, Jul 30, 2007 1:58 PM

Very cool, very useful, Thank You.

60. posted by sxchuman, Sep 20, 2007 2:07 PM

Thanks a lot for this tutorial very helpful!

61. posted by hywel, Sep 22, 2007 4:31 PM

Really nice and so simple.

62. posted by Eicats, Oct 2, 2007 11:17 PM

This tutorial is a nice and quick way to accomplish advanced effects. Well done.

63. posted by eggcustard, Oct 12, 2007 12:09 PM

Too blurry, no pores or skin texture.

I would never be allowed to do this in my job as a retoucher!!

only slightly useful for poor quality images ie: old prints. This would require a very very light version of this tutorial only plus other techniques.

Might be useful if you want an extremely quick way of cleaning family pics but not professional to my knowledge (I'm not a high end retoucher!).

I find manually going over the skin in soft sweeping strokes with a very low opacity clone tool helps and then use the history tool to bring back some texture (makes sure you clean the image well and replace skin texture on spots etc... also soften or tone down wrinkles (printing processes tend to darken wrinkles which makes them stand out more) and once happy take a snapshot before embarking on the smoothing technique.

if that makes sense... I'm rubbish at explaining myself!

64. posted by waddyjune, Nov 12, 2007 6:07 PM

This was great. I am a beginner and your directions were perfect. Very cool!!!

65. posted by jessada, Nov 22, 2007 4:20 PM

Easy than I thought..
now I know it.

66. posted by keboaer, Nov 26, 2007 9:51 PM

nice try

67. posted by ro3go, Aug 16, 2008 3:15 PM

It was an easy and helpful tutorial :)

68. posted by bexley, Oct 3, 2008 9:30 PM

While a good technique for just tooling around in Pshop, it's not a professional way to retouch models. It's too destructive and you lose all of the skin texture. A much lighter version of this may pass for personal photos, but that's about it. Thanks for sharing though.

69. posted by _Katya, Oct 28, 2008 11:14 PM

I agree with Bexley. This is not professional retouching by any stretch. Pro retouchers don't blur the skin, they use non-destructive techniques like D&B.

70. posted by jkingsbeer, Feb 5, 2009 8:14 PM

This is GREAT, Thanks Miguel

71. posted by rrskiran, Mar 25, 2009 11:46 AM

Thanks and great tutorial....

72. posted by photoreliv, Apr 21, 2010 6:53 PM

good job ugaldew specially the last photo there is a very big difference and enhancement ..
actually i think that the photoshop system is powerful and smart cause you can retouch and smooth skin or do any thing you want with more than a way .. there is alot of ways to retouch skin , and for each one his favourite way to retouch .. check these retouching samples here :

73. posted by escan, Aug 20, 2010 2:35 PM

Thanks Miguel for the great tutorial

74. posted by szenovera, Apr 24, 2011 8:14 AM

Many thanks for your useful tutorial and great lesson

75. posted by Gioradi, Apr 22, 2011 2:54 AM

very, very good tutorial!
It helped me a lot! Thanks.

76. posted by disenoweb9, Feb 22, 2013 8:02 AM

It was an easy and helpful tutorial :)

77. posted by trainer2, May 31, 2013 9:05 AM

I am from lodz, thanks a lot for your work :)

78. posted by inizjall, Nov 6, 2013 3:19 AM

retouching at its best

You have to log in to add comments to this post.

freeimages blog archive

RSS feeds

All blog posts
Tutorial posts only


» Add your own post!

Recent blog comments

The Best of HiRes Photo Sharing Worlds
Nov 6, 2013 3:44 AM inizjall wrote
morgue is good option

Cloudy Scotland
Nov 6, 2013 3:43 AM inizjall wrote
thank you so much michel

Flayer Brochure
Nov 6, 2013 3:43 AM inizjall wrote
good share

Free Christmas mistletoe wreath with bells
Nov 6, 2013 3:42 AM inizjall wrote
perfect for christmass

Valentines Day Backgrounds
Nov 6, 2013 3:41 AM inizjall wrote
such a romantic background

This site uses cookies

By continuing to browse freeimages you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Find out more here.