Freckles are beautiful, but not all of us are lucky to have them. So, we can sometimes cheat a little bit. If you want to add freckles to your model’s face, you can use make-up, of course. But if you’d rather add them after the shoot, Aaron Nace from Phlearn will show you how. In this simple tutorial, he’ll teach you how to create custom brushes and turn them into natural-looking freckles in a couple of minutes.
First of all, you will need to create a custom brush. If you want to make it faster, you can download the brushes Aaron used in this tutorial. But if you’d rather start from scratch, keep reading.
Start with the Brush tool. You’ll need it to draw a few shapes of freckles you’ll later use on the model’s face. Create a new white layer, use a brush with a low flow and paint until you get “a freckle.” You can draw it black, because at this point, you’re just drawing shapes.
When you’re happy with your freckle, use a Rectangular Marquee tool and select the freckle while holding Shift key (to make it square). When you’ve made the selection, create a new layer under it. Go to Edit > Fill and choose the color white. Keep the selection active, go to Edit >Define Brush Preset, and name your freckle “Freckle 1.”
Repeat the process above two more times, to create several different shapes of freckles. After all, the real freckles also come in different shapes and shades.
Setting up the brushes
Now that you have the shapes of the freckles, it’s time to take the next step. Go to Window > Brush and play with settings here. Select one of your “freckle brushes” and increase spacing. Within this menu, go to Shape Dynamics and crank the Size Jitter and Angle Jitter all the way up. Also, go to Scatter and crank it up too. You can also go to Transfer and crank up the Flow Jitter. If you have a pressure-sensitive tablet, then set the Control to “Pen Pressure” and you’ll be able to create lighter and darker freckles depending on the pressure of the pen. The whole point of playing with these settings is to create randomness since the actual freckles are randomly distributed on the face. And remember, these aren’t the final settings – you can always go back and adjust something again.
Drawing the freckles
The brushes are ready, and now you’re one step away from a freckled face. Create a new Curves adjustment layer and pull the center of the curve to make the skin tones darker. Click on the layer mask and invert it so it turns black (click Ctrl + I or Cmd + I).
Now, use your freckle brushes and the color white to draw on the layer mask. This will reveal the darker tones and create the illusion of freckles. Play with the different shapes and sizes of the freckles as you draw them on the model’s face. If you overdo it, you can always switch the brush to black and delete the freckles from any unwanted areas. And when you’re all done, you can go over the freckles with a large, soft Eraser Tool with the very low flow. This will tone everything down and make it look more realistic. And now since I’ve always wondered what I’d look like with freckles, here’s what I got. It’s the first attempt, but I’m still better with Photoshop than I am with putting the make-up on. : )
I know many photographers use Photoshop to emphasize the existing freckles. But if you want to add some from scratch, this tutorial should be helpful. And in case you want to do as much as possible in-camera, then check out this tutorial for creating freckles. You’ll also use a brush, but a real one.