Have you ever seen photos that were “airbrushed” and the models look like china dolls?Plastic looking skin with no depth or feeling? That may have been the look before Photoshop came along with a set of very powerful tools that can make skin look enhanced with a more natural look. With this technique we will apply a combination of a surface blur, added noise with soft light and a mask which will allow us to use a brush to paint back in areas where more detail and clarity is needed such as hair, eyes and lips and contours of the face — In the end, creating a personal flexible airbrushing technique that can be used on all skin types.
TIP: Record an Action starting at Step 1 and stop recording after you have completed Step 6, so that you can use these steps over and over.
This is the image we will be working on. (Airbrushing should be the last step of any retouching, other than maybe cropping or resizing. We will be using a a retouched image with one layer). You can find this image to work on at EditablePhotos.com.
Step 1. Duplicate the Background Layer by right clicking on it and rename the duplicated layer ”Airbrushing”
Step 2. Select the Airbrushing Layer and create a new group. Call this group ”Airbrushing“.
Step 3. Select the Airbrushing layer and Duplicate it again. Rename this layer “Blur”
- Filter, Surface Blur
- Radius = 55 pixels
- Threshold = 10
Step 4. Make a new Blank Layer and name it “Noise”
- Fill the layer with gray by going to Edit, Fill
- Set the RGB values to 148 for each
- Set the Opacity to 100 %
- Mode = Normal
- Select the Noise Layer and change the Blending Mode to “Soft Light“
Step 5. Select the Noise Layer
- Filter, Noise
- Gaussian = 3%
- Without Monochromatic
Step 7. Highlight the Noise Layer, and the Blur Layer and Merge Layers. Rename to “Noise & Blur”
Step 7. Your image may look “overdone” at this point.
- Select the Noise and Blur Layer and adjust the Opacity to your preference. Lower it to approximately 50 percent. The amount of Opacity will always depend on the image you are working on.
Step 8. Select the Noise and Blur Layer and add a Pixel Mask.
- Click on the Mask Thumbnail
- Using a Soft Brush begin painting back in the areas where you want the clarity to show through such as the eyes, hair and mouth. Don’t forget to adjust your brush size as needed and brush back in the outline of the contours of the face, neck and shoulders if exposed.
TIP: Use the keyboard shortcut ”x” while painting to switch back and forth to reveal and hide your masking.
© Dennis Beck
This tutorial was written by Dennis Beck. Please feel free to make any comments or suggest other tutorials you would like to see.