Airbrushing Skin in Photoshop
- Open the photo into Photoshop. For this tutorial, if you want to see the skin texture clearly try to use a high resolution image.
- Afterwards, create a duplicate layer and put it into a group. For this purpose, press Ctrl+J to duplicate the layer then press Ctrl+G to place the new layer into a group. Name the group as “Airbrush” and the layer as “Blur”. There will be two layers in the Airbrush group to retouch the skin. The first layer we have made is the Blur layer and it will be used to blur the skin. Afterwards, we will add in another layer to restore the natural skin texture.
- Select the Blur layer. In order to blur the selected layer, use the Surface Blur filter. This filter blurs like the Gaussian Blur filter apart from it can retain edge details. We will need to blur the layer so that the skin is smoothed and somewhat blurry as well without having the edges.
- Now create a new layer and then move it above the Blur layer. Name the layer as “Texture” and adjust the blend mode to Hard Light. This layer, as its name states, will be used to add a slight texture to the skin and also adjust the skin tone. The texture thus created in the layer will very minimally contribute to the final results the difference can only be easily seen when zoomed in on high resolution images and thus varies from image to image. Despite the fact that the result is very minimal, it ensures that no area of the skin looks too plastic or smooth.
- Make sure that you have selected the “Texture” layer. After having that layer selected, press Shift+F5 or choose Edit > Fill. In the Fill tool, set the settings according to the image. This will fill your layer with a 50% gray color.
- From the Filter > Noise menu Add the Noise filter. This will add some noise to the image that will prevent the skin from looking like plastic. It might look a little too sharp, but in the next step, we will fix this with the Gaussian Blur filter. In order to blur the layer by 1 pixel, select Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.
- Now we will temporarily tint the color of this layer. For this purpose first, select the Eye Dropper tool from the toolbar menu. Sample an area of the skin that appears to be the average skin color. You really need no to be very precise because we will tune the color later in this tutorial. From the Color palette, click on the fly out menu below the close window button and simply select the HSB sliders. We will need to see the HSB values for the next step.
- Open the Hue or the Saturation tool simply by pressing Ctrl+U or by choosing Image > Adjustments > Hue or Saturation. Check the Colorize option and then adjust the hue, saturation, and the lightness values to match the HSB values from the color we have sampled in the previous step.
- Select the Airbrush group in the Layers palette and then add go to Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All. This will help create a layer mask filled with the color black that will help to hide the group. With this layer mask, we will paint the areas where we want the skin to appear. Otherwise, this skin airbrushing effects will appear on the entire image.