Can you retouch a portrait using only the Brush tool?
When editing a portrait, you will surely use different tools in Photoshop. But can you edit a portrait using only the Brush tool? Aaron Nace of PHLEARN took this challenge and used only the Brush tool for blemish removal, dodge and burn, even color correcting. This tutorial will show you just how much you can do with a single tool, but also help you learn everything there is to learn about the Brush tool.
Okay, there are so many different tools in Photoshop for a reason. But if you are a new user, it may all seem overwhelming. Aaron wanted to strip it all down and show you that it’s possible to do a decent editing job using only one of these tools – the Brush.
The inspiration for this video was quite interesting. Aaron explains that he was inspired by make-up tutorials. For example, there is a challenge to apply make-up using only your fingers. So, he used the same logic for this portrait tutorial, and in the video you can see the entire process, as well as the end result.
You can use the Brush tool for skin retouching. You need to zoom all the way in to see the pixels. Then, sample the color and paint over the blemishes you want to remove, using a low flow of the brush. Just make sure to zoom out regularly, because only seeing the entire image will show you how well you did the job.
The Brush tool with a very low flow (around 5%) can also do the trick for dodging and burning. Set the blending mode to Soft Light and paint over the areas you want to dodge or burn, using different sizes of the Brush. Paint white the areas you want to dodge, and black the areas you want to burn.
Finally, you can even use the Brush tool for color correction, and it’s quite simple. If there’s a color cast in the image, just pick the complementary color and paint over it. If the white balance is not right, you can create a new layer, paint over it with the complementary color, and set the blending mode to Soft Light.
If you’re a new Photoshop user, this is a great way to demonstrate the power of a single tool and help you master it before you move on to the next ones. In my opinion, Aaron’s final image could have been better. After all, as I said, a variety of different Photoshop tools are there for a reason. Still, for a photo edited only with the Brush Tool, I’d say it’s pretty good. I’d say it’s worth giving this technique a try if you want to challenge yourself and have some fun. I know I’m gonna try it out in my leisure time.
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.