How to Soften and Smooth Skin in Photoshop ?

by Lalithaa

Photoshop is a program within the Adobe CC suite of products that is great for smoothing out skin in portraits. Unfortunately, barely any articles and videos on the subject take into account your level of experience. Well, we’re here to change that with this Step by Step guide. Keep reading to find out the simplest way to soften human skin in Photoshop.

Step 1

Begin by opening your portrait photo in Photoshop. Once opened, hit Command + O on Mac or Control + O on Windows to open up your file’s preferences panel.

Step 2

You want to make a Duplicate Layer first. Go ahead and click on Layer and choose Duplicate Layer (or use Shift + Ctrl + J), then give it a name like Smooth, and then you can click OK.


Step 3

First, we want to make Adjustments. Do this by clicking Image > Adjustments. Next, we want to Invert. We do that by clicking Image > Adjustments> Invert. After doing so, you’ll notice a change as shadows will become highlights and vice versa.


Step 4

Now you want to set the blending mode of your Smooth layer. Do this by selecting Blending Options from underneath your Layer window, and choosing Vivid Light from under that drop-down menu.


Step 5

Next, find Filter in your toolbar. On the drop-down menu, click Other, and you should see High Pass as one of the options. Click on High Pass, and a box will open up with more settings and numbers that you can play around with and adjust depending on how soft or smooth you want your skin to look. This time we want the Radius to be between 20 and 26. However, you may want to change these numbers around, so it looks best for your project. Click OK when you find what looks good according to your image’s size and resolution.


Step 6

Go back to Filter and select Blur from the drop-down menu. You will see another blur option called Gaussian Blur; set it between 2 and 4 pixels on the Radius section. Click OK when you’re done.


Step 7

Next, you want to hold “Alt” down on your keyboard. If you’re using an Apple computer, hold down Option instead. Then you’ll see an icon that says, “Add layer mask” in the Layers Panel. Click on it. Now that we have a blank layer, we can use a brush with a large soft edge to remove any blemishes from our image. This will allow you to draw on your mask without affecting your image underneath.


Step 8

You need the Brush Tool for our next step. Select it from your toolbar or press B on your keyboard to select it with your mouse. Your Foreground color should be white. The Brush Hardness should be set at 45%. Mode is set to Normal, Opacity is set at 50%, and Flow is set at 100%. Adjust the Brush Size until you feel comfortable working with it.


Step 9

Select your Layer Mask by clicking on it. It will have a white border around it. This indicates that it is selected. Make sure you do not have any other layers selected, or you might paint on those instead of your layer mask. Now use the Brush Tool (B). You can use either Airbrush or Regular Brush, depending on how soft you want your skin to look.


Step 10

Adjust the skin texture by lowering or increasing its opacity. This way, you can reduce it if you feel that your skin looks too unnatural or increase it if you’re not satisfied with how smooth your skin looks. The option is entirely up to you.


That wraps up our Step by Step tutorial. It’s a matter of finding a balance between a realistic and natural look and an overly perfected one. If you’re looking to fine tune your skills, Adobe CC offers discounted software for students so you can master the program without a big up front cost.

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