litechniks's blog

Flawless Skin

posted by litechniks, Jul 29, 2007 8:05 PM — 130 comments

In this tutorial we are editing the picture in a few easy steps to gain flawless skin.

Ready when you are:

If you're familiar with PS just run through the headlines

1. Duplicate the image twice, desaturate the middle layer
Right Click on the Background Layer, Duplicate it twice. While the Middle Layer is in focus use Image/Adjustments/Desaturate (CTRL+SHIFT+U)

2. Blur the Top Layer
Put the focus on the Top Layer then use Filter/Blur/Surface. Don't be afraid to adjust the sliders hard, move them till the spots disappear.

3. Use the Middle Layer as the Top Layer's Layer Mask (corrected thx to gokoroko)

Create a Layer Mask for the Top Layer: while the focus is on the Top Layer Click the small Icon in the bottom-right corner, shown in the picture

Put the focus on the Middle Layer, Select it all, then copy it (CTRL+C), then ALT+Left Click on the Top Layers's Layer Mask (You should se a white blank picture), now Paste (CTRL+V).

Now Click on the Top Layer's normal picture, you should see something like this(after setting the other layers invisible (eye icon)):

4. Creating a "Fading Mask"

Hold on, we are nearly ready!

Now put the focus on the Top Layer's Layer Mask again. Use Image/Adjustment/Levels , try to experience a setting that results a picture most similar to a halloween mask. When you are ready with it, select Paintbrush (Black colored) and start to paint in the vector mask, where you paint you'll find the picture will be less visible. Try to leave only the face's skin visible, but it is not important to be precise! .

7. Now we are ready, make the Background Layer visible

If you find the picture less natural, try to make the eyebrows on the blurred layer less visible, usually it helps a lot. Or you can make the whole blurred layer less visible by the Opacity Slider.

Hope you found this tutorial helpful,
Martin :)

ps: This picture has a black background originally, that is not true most cases. Not a problem: follow the tutorial, concentrate on the face as shown, then when you use the black paintbrush brush the whole background away :)

Comments | RSS

1. posted by litechniks, Sep 1, 2007 11:46 PM

Dear mimigirl22,
to tell you the truth I don't know that version but in fact the type of blur is not so important. You can try smart blur or any other one, the point is that after the blurring you shouldn't see spots and any other things on the skin. Than you can continue the process as written above. Good luck :)

2. posted by morleys, Jul 30, 2007 5:04 PM

Excellent, great tutorial thanks.

3. posted by rishabh9, Jul 30, 2007 5:43 PM


4. posted by bruur, Jul 31, 2007 12:26 PM

GREAT, simple and nice

5. posted by primus7, Jul 31, 2007 12:46 PM

What an excellent tutorial, thanks for sharing your knowledge :)

6. posted by deivisom, Aug 1, 2007 3:43 PM

Wow... Great
I liked a lot!

7. posted by tastypop, Aug 1, 2007 10:55 PM

This is a really great tutorial. Simple, yet elegant. Thank you.

8. posted by polisha2, Aug 3, 2007 7:18 AM

You're awesome, I've been trying to do this for ages.

9. posted by davelynn, Aug 3, 2007 9:19 AM

Very good tutorial... :)

10. posted by DDawgette, Aug 5, 2007 3:49 PM

WOW! This tutorial is great! It's exactly what I've been looking for!
Thank you soo much!! :D!~

11. posted by tu_it, Aug 7, 2007 5:39 AM

thanks you very much

12. posted by solege, Aug 7, 2007 5:15 PM

muy bueno! gracias (really grat! thanks)

13. posted by gabriel77, Aug 9, 2007 2:34 PM


14. posted by gokoroko, Aug 11, 2007 12:40 AM

sorry...there is a mistake on step 3. you can't go to final, you have to use "add layer mask". however the icons name is "add vector mask", it adds layer mask. because of this, step 3 may be confused for the user of "Layer Menu" ;-)

15. posted by litechniks, Aug 11, 2007 1:23 AM

Thank you for your kind comments :)

And gokoroko you are absolutely right! The Layer Mask icon's name changes to Vector Mask, after the Layer Mask is used once; so while writing this post I entered the wrong name. Thank you for warning us :)

16. posted by lucasafons, Aug 12, 2007 10:05 PM

perfect tutorials... Thanks

17. posted by loira, Aug 13, 2007 10:00 PM

.::thanks!! great tut!::.

18. posted by galu1234, Aug 14, 2007 4:13 PM


19. posted by jcmoore07, Aug 16, 2007 5:07 PM

I just tried this tut and it ROCKS! Thanks!

20. posted by uniquemmbr, Aug 16, 2007 8:17 PM

Thank u very much! Great Tut!

21. posted by GUNOT, Aug 17, 2007 11:24 AM


22. posted by Digiromik, Aug 21, 2007 9:54 PM

helpful tut!
my face is more blury now :-D

23. posted by crearpym, Aug 24, 2007 10:12 AM

Love it!!!

24. posted by magister1, Aug 24, 2007 10:06 PM

yes, its great!!!
with thanks from russia )

25. posted by xam2, Aug 26, 2007 8:07 PM

super-duper. Thanks!!!

26. posted by czeck6, Aug 27, 2007 10:56 PM

Thanks for the great Tutorial. Learned a lot!

27. posted by sorkarnes, Aug 28, 2007 11:47 AM

A good refresher.. i did this a very long time ago, by reading this i can dive right in again :)

Thanks a lot!

28. posted by xerotsuda, Aug 29, 2007 5:49 PM

amazing, thank you.

29. posted by cyberjoe, Aug 31, 2007 4:31 AM

Thanks fro posting this is really helpful

30. posted by robertkur, Aug 31, 2007 5:39 AM

not bad.....

31. posted by tec, Aug 31, 2007 10:49 PM

you should proably tell whether your using CS3 or not, 'cause your technique wont work in CS2 (wont paste into vector mask)

32. posted by litechniks, Sep 1, 2007 12:24 AM

Thanky you for your comments:)Well I'm using CS2, but You're right it is a mistake. Paste it into Layer Mask.
So lets clear this because I've met this mistake in other tutorials and I committed the same:
On a Layer you can apply a Layer mask and on a Layer Mask you can apply a Vector Mask.
And as you can't apply a second Layer Mask on an existing Layer mask the Layer Mask button's label changes to Vector Mask.
While generally using the PS it's obvious but when writing a tutorial it is a mistake easy to make:)

33. posted by mimigirl22, Sep 1, 2007 8:18 PM

ugh i so want to do this but i need new to photoshop and i have photoshop CS 8.0

but when i click on the blur option there is no surface button there...

only average, gaussian, and so on..but no surface

34. posted by alfredo-9, Sep 3, 2007 7:11 AM

Been practicing this trick for the last couple of hours. It works very well. Thank you so much for sharing!

35. posted by midocom, Sep 3, 2007 10:34 AM

Thanks for sharing, your tutorial working very well.

36. posted by t-florie, Sep 3, 2007 10:58 AM

Thanks for sharing, it looks good.
Maybe she looks a little to much as a barbie-doll in the end, but that's easy to fix up :)

37. posted by mimigirl22, Sep 5, 2007 1:43 AM

thank you so much..your help is appreciated=]

38. posted by Holly-pop, Sep 5, 2007 7:35 AM

Great tutorial! thanx!

39. posted by plethr, Sep 11, 2007 3:46 AM

Great tutorial... It changes may time consuming airbrushing into time saved. Thanks!

40. posted by Essiexxx, Sep 12, 2007 10:43 AM

Wow, very simple to do, yet very handy! Cool!

41. posted by southwardr, Sep 12, 2007 11:04 AM

You made it so easy and understandable. Thank you very much.

42. posted by Carms, Sep 14, 2007 9:24 AM

I likey!!

43. posted by fake_usa, Sep 15, 2007 5:07 AM

great, thanks

44. posted by sj_sanders, Sep 25, 2007 10:48 PM

Loved this! Thanks a bunch for this simple and useful tutorial. I always wanted flawless skin!

45. posted by ArchaicArt, Sep 26, 2007 7:59 PM

ah, a nice tutorial compared to the others. I'm tired of seeing ones saying "How to use the brush tool" or "How to use the stamp tool". This tutorial actually helps me while explaining things like vector masks. Thankyou.

Do you use

46. posted by p0ng0, Sep 30, 2007 3:28 AM

Umm... i got lost. Where did you go to get the action which shows the background cut out and looking like a mask, but with hair, (4th pic)?

Please email me? thanks!!

47. posted by Sinsaint, Oct 1, 2007 11:31 PM

This is great, I knew there had to be an easier way to do this!

48. posted by LORISABINA, Oct 2, 2007 4:26 PM

Excellect tutorial. I've been looking for a way to adjust images without brushing over the entire photograph! This is excellent and very simple to follow. Thanks

49. posted by P5_Page, Oct 5, 2007 6:38 PM

You can get a nice effect on this by setting a copied-- high pass filtered -- over the original layer --- set to overlay blending mode --- inverted (ctrl-i) --- and reduced opacity.

50. posted by j0elc, Oct 6, 2007 3:09 PM

Nice tut. But, theres an easier way to achieve exactley what you did! Hold ctrl+shift+alt and press 1. this selects the highlights, press ctrl+j to copy to a new layer. and blur the new layer.

51. posted by Catx, Oct 8, 2007 3:56 PM


52. posted by SupMal, Oct 10, 2007 3:59 AM

Thank you so much :)

53. posted by jcfreak63, Oct 16, 2007 6:04 PM

Great tutorial ! Here's my result. elsea-makeover.jpg

54. posted by dilara, Oct 17, 2007 6:10 PM

you did it so good man!

55. posted by samexeeson, Oct 20, 2007 9:05 PM

its really good and easy

56. posted by crisderaud, Oct 23, 2007 5:26 PM

This technique allowed my 13 year old niece to see her picture the way she wants to be seen. Thanks for the method.

Easy to do. Turned out great the first crack I took at it. All the steps are clear and easy to follow.

57. posted by guggenheim, Oct 24, 2007 5:27 AM

Great tutorial thank you for your time and knowledge. I will try this!

58. posted by cdavis1, Oct 25, 2007 10:04 PM

this is the best "flawless skin" tutorial i've come across, thanks!

59. posted by jbmoocs, Oct 25, 2007 11:25 PM

This is what I call a professional tut and how I would apply the 'FHM brush' on a model. Well done & thanks for sharing your knowledge.

60. posted by photoreliv, Jan 3, 2010 8:25 AM

guys . ... why dont u try a very simple way for retouching !!!!

here it is

1. use the smudge tool

2. make strength : 4 or 5 %

3. change the brushes presets
to :
sign on * scattering - * noise

4.brush tip shape : make the angle -25 % and no spacing so make the sign empty .

and start to use it on the face , it will give u great results

check out my website for retouching gallery :

61. posted by webjam, Oct 27, 2007 5:43 PM

Great tip! Thank you for sharing it. Goes way quicker than painting in/ot a mask by myself.

62. posted by vitaly, Nov 4, 2007 2:56 PM

thanks a lot. very useful

63. posted by MistressKy, Nov 9, 2007 3:05 AM

Oh my gosh this is brillant!! Thanks so much for the tutorial! I've been trying to do this for ages without masks and this helps a ton! It worked out brillantly on some photos I've already tried it on. Thanks so much for your post!

64. posted by chairani, Nov 11, 2007 7:36 AM

awesome technic. i used the concept of this technic to work in GIMP, and its work!

65. posted by Vexona, Nov 15, 2007 10:20 PM

Thank you Martin. You rule.

66. posted by Duski-Wolf, Nov 18, 2007 11:45 PM

Absolutely Fabulous, thank you SO much! *was fed up of blurring, smudging, repainting, and healing*

67. posted by belynda, Nov 21, 2007 1:23 AM

This worked an absolute TREAT!!
Thanks very much for sharing...
I can't wait to find some more images to practise on.

68. posted by andrewbour, Dec 6, 2007 9:04 AM

Excellent tutorial. Very professional so thank-you!

69. posted by alicia_d, Dec 14, 2007 4:51 AM

is there any reason i am not able to paste the second layer into the layer mask as per step three? i do apologize if i'm just missing something obvious.. but i cant figure it out for the life of me.. if it makes a difference i'm using CS2. thx!

70. posted by Oo__oO, Dec 16, 2007 3:20 AM

yay! thanks! :D

71. posted by yshepard, Dec 16, 2007 6:51 AM

Wonderful tutorial. Very useful.
I use Adobe Photoshop InDesign CS2.

I had to do one step differently on step 3. I put the focus on the middle layer. I selected it all and then copied it.

Next I opened the Channel Palette and selected the Layer O Mask. Then I pasted onto that channel layer. Furthermore, I selected the RGB layer, which automaticly also selected the R Layer, G Layer and B Layer.

Lastly I deleted the middle desaturated layer before continuing with step 4.

Thank you!

72. posted by litechniks, Dec 16, 2007 7:05 PM

Thank you very much for your kind comments, sorry I've been away for a while.

Dear alicia_d,
as you describe the problem I guess that you might not press "alt" while you click on the layer's small icon. If you do so, a blank white image should be seen: the default layer mask.Then you can paste it.

Dear yshepard,
thank you very much for your add-on, it's very useful.

As P5_Page has pointed on, highpass filter can be used for creating the mask, as the small spots, scars (etc...) are in high frequency range (high geometrical frequency) so they can be found by a high-pass filter.

And only one thing further: you don't really have to desaturate the mask-to-be layer, I only wanted to show the point in masking, photoshop desaturates automatically any layer that is pasted into a layer mask.

73. posted by sydtemp, Dec 18, 2007 11:49 AM

just tried it
Quick as a wink

74. posted by rajeshmn, Dec 19, 2007 12:37 PM

Thank You Very Much

75. posted by Theliljay, Dec 26, 2007 8:44 PM

Huhu Yea I really like this one :)
faster than the stuff i did with my pics before lol

76. posted by vali_bv, Jan 8, 2008 8:55 AM

very nice and useful! Thank you and have a great 2008 ;)

77. posted by dumbduck, Jan 11, 2008 9:21 AM

I don't understand, how do I desaturate layer. Pls, pls help

78. posted by b_shadown, Jan 13, 2008 12:28 AM

Ok i got a huge mistake in here and I cant figure out what was it, here is the deal.

In Step 3 when I paste the Middle Layer (B/W layer) in the Layer Mask i got the exact image as in the Middle Layer.

Here is what i do: I Focus on the middle Layer, then i use Ctrl+Left Click in order to copy the layer, after i use Ctrl+Left Click on the Layer Mask and finally i paste the Middle Layer inside the Mask. But when i do this, PS DO NOT desaturate my layer inside the Layer Mask, so i got a really uggly effect. So if u guys have any idea what's wrong i'll apreciatte if you can help. Thanks in Advance.

79. posted by b_shadown, Jan 13, 2008 12:34 AM

posted by dumbduck: I don't understand, how do I desaturate layer. Pls, pls help

pal, u have to select the layer u wana to desaturate. only go to the menu: Image->Adjustments->Desaturate; or u can also use the Hotkey Shift+Ctrl+U.

80. posted by drdelusion, Jan 13, 2008 9:36 AM

Thanks! And good job! Respect :)

81. posted by Ozrider, Jan 16, 2008 4:16 PM

I can't get it to work,every time I try to get the middle layer to be the top layer mask it just adds a new layer. PLEASE HELP ME!!!!!!!

82. posted by AngiePea, Jan 17, 2008 6:46 AM

This is an awesome tutorial! I've been looking for something like this for such a long time. This will save me a lot of time. Thank you! :)

83. posted by Laydiana, Jan 20, 2008 10:56 PM

because I had to find that tutorial after Ive spend 2 hours retouching a photo... Aha :( Good tut :D keep up the great work

84. posted by jennajae, Jan 27, 2008 1:44 PM

One word... AWESOME!

85. posted by dirtypaper, Jan 30, 2008 10:31 PM

this is just awsome and just the thing i was looking for on sxc. thanx thanx thanx !!

86. posted by atl-doodle, Feb 15, 2008 5:31 PM


87. posted by thomasbehn, Apr 28, 2008 10:07 AM

Thank you so much this:)
An exelent tutorial.

88. posted by victordov, Mar 9, 2008 8:36 PM

Thank A lot very GooD!!!!

89. posted by sblackmon2, Mar 16, 2008 9:52 AM

I'm having difficulties pasting the black and white image into the layer mask, I'm using a Mac, and it isn't letting me paste it in there.

90. posted by litechniks, Mar 18, 2008 11:01 PM

Thanx for your comments :)
sblackmon2: I've got no experience with Macs. Should you find the right key, you see the masking layer that is blank white by default.

91. posted by Coldmoon, Mar 19, 2008 2:56 AM

I am impressed and simply amazed by the simplicity of this technique and on its efficency ^_^

Thank you so soo much !!

92. posted by ebolavirus, Apr 3, 2008 7:53 AM

I thought it would be a time consuming, mundain simple technique.......but its much better....

93. posted by giarosenko, Apr 20, 2008 1:41 PM

cool thanks its great

94. posted by justatiq, Apr 24, 2008 12:33 PM


95. posted by co88y, Apr 29, 2008 9:27 PM

So simple and so effective, brilliant

96. posted by tylerdrake, Apr 29, 2008 11:16 PM

Great tutorial, I use this almost everyday. :D

97. posted by DarkNemos, May 6, 2008 12:06 AM

Thanks a lot!

98. posted by XremarqueX, May 26, 2008 2:59 PM

This is great! I have some slight acne scarring so I'm glad to find a cheap way to finally 'get rid' of that :-)

99. posted by rainbowj, May 30, 2008 5:46 PM

coool, I'm looking forward to trying that out!!

100. posted by santscho77, Jun 18, 2008 2:41 AM

A great tutorial. Best results you get, if you switch on the blur layer and the background layer. Then painting on the layer mask. With pen and tablet, you have best control over your art work.

Only one thing: Sometimes, the face looks like a sponge. Too soft. So I played around with the opacity of the blur layer.


101. posted by mikkymeow, Jun 25, 2008 9:51 PM

good idea

102. posted by ivan0405, Aug 30, 2008 9:55 AM

Great tutorial

103. posted by deadgirl37, Sep 23, 2008 10:25 PM

THIS IS GREAT. It's so fast and easy...yet so effective.

104. posted by gumuruhssp, Sep 28, 2008 5:11 PM


thanks a lot yow...

nice one
but little bit
try n error
when dealing with the
adjustment of the top
mask levels... :D

105. posted by zeynep7, Sep 30, 2008 11:38 PM

This tutorial is great! Thanks a lot for sharing

106. posted by m_huerta, Feb 11, 2009 6:19 PM

GREAT Effect

107. posted by gdoshi1, Oct 16, 2008 7:40 AM

thnkss its really gr8

108. posted by Justdi, Oct 30, 2008 3:58 PM

Playboy effects ^^

109. posted by jilly09, Nov 6, 2008 5:59 PM

awesomeee tutoriall!! loveddd it :)

110. posted by rtyree, Nov 30, 2008 6:21 AM

A video of this similar technique can be found on digitalprotalk here: rcelain-skin-technique-tuesday-030408.html

111. posted by jenos, Jan 5, 2009 7:32 PM

this is awesome, thanks a lot for posting it....

112. posted by arte_ram, Feb 8, 2009 9:59 AM

Thank you for this posting. This is the first tutorial I felt I could try. Very well explained - photoshop for dummmies style. Came out pretty well too.

113. posted by arsenalfor, Feb 20, 2009 5:34 PM

Absolutely the best retouching tutorial in existence. Kudos

114. posted by arsenalfor, Feb 20, 2009 6:31 PM

Absolutely the best retouching tutorial in existence. Kudos

115. posted by andyboez, Jun 10, 2009 9:13 PM

nice tutorial

116. posted by cosmicwar, Jul 8, 2009 2:44 PM

thanks you!

117. posted by Strings12, Oct 8, 2009 1:03 AM

Thank you so much for this post, there are some grey tips in here that are new to even me - and I like to think Iím pretty aware! :)
I love the weekly emails, they give me a boost every time to continue with my healthy lifestyle. Thank you and I will keep spreading the news about your site!

118. posted by GiftsGuide, Apr 18, 2010 3:13 PM

This is fantastic, thanks for taking the time to post a great tutorial.

119. posted by GArtist2K3, Apr 13, 2010 11:16 AM

i personally do not like tutorials like this mainly because it makes the person's skin look fake. it doesn't look at all like she has pores in her skin, which all human beings do have.

120. posted by csubodh, Jul 20, 2010 2:50 AM

hi i am subodh
Thank you so much this
An exelent tutorial.
but i can't find small icon in the bottom so please help me where is it this small icon which type have this icon

121. posted by escan, Aug 18, 2010 8:56 AM

Simply Excellent tutorial.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge :)

122. posted by teploshop, Aug 26, 2010 4:24 PM

Thanks for sharing, it looks good.
Maybe she looks a little to much as a barbie-doll in the end, but that's easy to fix up :)

123. posted by rmhompet2, Sep 13, 2010 12:41 PM


124. posted by JohnSturcz, Oct 8, 2010 7:19 AM

Fantastic tips...!'s really inspiring to be able to go further beyond the "sense" of what "is" reality and a "constructed illusion" that our modern-day technologies Photoshop...

125. posted by johnjac, Nov 5, 2010 10:51 PM

Great tips!

126. posted by Moanahoku, Feb 2, 2011 1:08 PM

Thank you so much!

127. posted by egator, Mar 1, 2011 10:20 AM


128. posted by wallpaper4, Jan 20, 2012 3:30 AM


129. posted by disenoweb9, Feb 22, 2013 7:58 AM

AWESOME. thank you for taking your time to teach us! I really learned a lot. WOW.

130. posted by carlislekm, Jul 29, 2013 4:43 AM

Very interesting

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