Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Coffee With Amanda! Soften Skin

Amanda is back again with a great tutorial on one of her versions of skin smoothing. And even better, you can find her video tutorial here

And if you haven't checked out my free retouching actions that include skin smoothing layers (if you want to be really lazy!), you can find them on this page (page down to the middle). Baby PowderRoom, Perfect Portrait, Glamour Glow and PowderRoom are all great actions that will allow you to do a complete touch-up. :-)

Me Good morning, Coffeeshop Friends!! Today I am going to share with you simple steps to soften skin in Photoshop Elements (works in PS also, just the screen looks different). To utilize this tutorial, you will need to have Rita's Layer Mask Action because PSE does not come with the mask tool. Rita's action is spot on and works perfectly! I use it almost every day and if someone told me I could only keep on action for PSE, that would be the one. I love it!

Now, let me warn you that I don't use the mask to brush stuff off of a layer like most people do (black brush on white mask). Instead, I invert it and brush ON effects (white brush on black mask) only where I want them. I prefer to do it that way because I feel I have more control and can be more specific about where the effect is shown. Does it feel like I'm speaking French to you? Don't worry, go through the motions of the tutorial and you'll understand.

Step 1: Open image in PSE.
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Step 2: Create a duplicate background by pressing "control" + "j"
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Step 3: Add a blur filter to the image by going to Filters (1st), Blur (2nd) and Gaussian Blur (3rd).
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Step 4: Set amount of blur you would like. For skin softening/smoothing, I use around 4 or 5.
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Your image should be good and blurry! ;-)
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Step 6: Time to apply the layer mask.
Click on the Layer Mask Action by Coffeeshop in your Effects palette.
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This is what your layers palette will look like once you've hit "apply."
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Step 7: Here is where I invert the mask to make my life easier. Simply press "control" and "i" at the same time.
This is what your layers palette will look like now (mask will be BLACK instead of white).
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Step 8: Click on the brush tool in your side tool bar. Make sure the foreground color is set to WHITE.
(If you brush on a black mask with a black brush, NOTHING will change on your image and you WANT change).
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Step 9: Make sure you have a soft brush (1st - edges will be fuzzy, not defined) and lower the opacity (2nd) a bit. Make sure your brush is just a simple paint brush looking took, not a brush with a twirly thing or a box beside it. You don't want those brushes.
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Step 10: Brush all over the skin you want softened. Make sure NOT to brush over eyes, eyebrows, nostrils, lips, teeth, etc. You just want to soften the skin. Everywhere you brush, the blur will show through from the layer you've masked. You can see where I brushed on my son's face in the image below.
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Step 11: I didn't like the look of the blur at full strength, so I reduced the opacity. Remember, everything in moderation. Some people make the mistake of having skin too smooth and it doesn't look realistic, rather like baby dolls or wax people. ;-)
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Here is the final image (after I quickly used the clone stamp to lesson his under-eye circles). Notice his eyes are a bit soft, i.e. out-of-focus. I did a video tutorial on how to reclaim slightly out-of-focus eyes and will soon provide the written version for it also.
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Okay, for beginners this tutorial may be a stretch, but see if you can do it with an image. Intermediate or advanced users, you may already know this edit trick, but thanks for making it through this far. ;-) For those who try this technique on a picture, post it on a blog or Flickr and leave the link in a comment and I will go see it. I had so much fun seeing the edits people make with my first tutorial!

Me
Meet Amanda! I am a "Pioneer Woman" of sorts, although not nearly as talented, witty or culinarily gifted as the real one. I grew up in the suburbs or on military bases, but ended up in country on a cattle and chicken farm an hour from any sizeable town. I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to four children, ages 11 to 4.

My photography journey started last spring, and it has quickly become a passion. Most of my subjects are my kids, the cows, my mother-in-law's flowers and my weeds (they're prettier in a picture than in real life). I enjoy editing (with PSE 7) and continue to learn daily. The tutorials I write are very basic and well documented so that brand new users can learn how to use their editing software.

I recently started a photography resource blog, PhotographyHaven where you can find lots of free actions, tutorials, workshops and more. You can view my personal pictures at Moving Forward or my Flickr stream.

12 comments:

  1. LOVE this tutorial Amanda! And SO easy. LOVE being able to invert the mask-I didn't even know that was possible! I also have not been using a soft edged brush-just a normal one with rounded edges. Can't wait to watch your OOF eye tutorial. I have all of your actions and adore them. I don't suppose you have done a tut for cloning out under eye circles? Or can point me to one?
    Thanks so much for writing this up!

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  2. Great post! I didn't recognize Amanda's picture (I thought she was blonde from CM and PhotographyHaven), but while reading this I just kept thinking, "I know I've seen this picture of this boy before." Good to put it together that it was from Amanda of PhotographyHaven. Thank you for the great tutorial!

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  3. Amanda - Thank you for your tutorials! I really like the way you lay them out and show pictures STEP BY STEP. As you mentioned in an earlier post, you take PW's "How To" and make them your own! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    I learn so much from you!

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  4. Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave today [20 May 02:00pm GMT]. Thanks, Maria

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  5. I love this. The PSE guest tutorials are quickly becoming my favorite part of Coffee Shop.

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  6. It's nice to have such a clear tutorial to use in PSE...but I hafta say, Lightroom is the BEST for softening skin! Click the "soften skin" brush, and just start painting. If it looks over/under done, you can always go back and reduce the opacity at any time. LOVE this LR feature - but then again, I'm totally hooked on Lightroom :-)

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  7. Thank you all for the kind words and thank you to Rita for having me over again.

    Looking at the tutorial now, I wish I had spiffied up that picture some more. It looks painfully unfinished. LOL

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  8. Great tutorial --- thank you so much for sharing it! I am looking forward to signing up in the near future for one of your workshops!! :D

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  9. I want to cry!!! If only I had found you a year ago when I was editing all of the pictures from my wedding! I thank you for all of your tutorials and the actions. I think I may have to go back and re-edit the hundreds of pictures!

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  10. Hello
    with my bad English ....

    I downloaded the layer mask zip but I don't know where to put it so I can use it !
    I have the PSE 8 on iMac

    Your explanation are so useful !

    thanks

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  11. Dear Amanda, Excellent tutorials. Easy to follow and execute.

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