Removing blemishes is certainly one of the reasons we retouch portraits. And when you’re retouching beauty shots, you don’t want to leave any of them unhealed. Unmesh Dinda a.k.a. PiXimperfect shares a simple trick you can use while removing blemishes in Photoshop. It helps you see them better, and even see the ones that are not obvious at the first glance.
When you open the portrait in Photoshop, some blemishes will be obvious, and the others – not so much. To make them more visible and leave none of them unhealed, this is what you need to do:
Create a new Black & White layer. Move the Reds down, so they appear darker in the image. You can also slide the Yellows and Blues up, but it depends on the photo. It worked for me to make them a bit brighter. I used this “beauty shot” of mine as an example. It’s already retouched so the blemishes are not the first thing someone would notice. But when I applied this B&W layer, I saw there was more to fix:
After you’ve created the Black & White layer, add an empty new layer between that one and the image. You will use this one to heal the blemishes.
Since the red spots are now clearly visible, use the tool of your choice and start removing them. Unmesh uses the Healing Brush Tool, and so was I. When you choose this tool, make sure you sample from the current layer and below. You don’t want to include the B&W layer, nor do you want to sample only from the empty one.
Finally, after you’re done retouching, don’t forget to delete the B&W layer before saving the image.
A technique like this is used when you have a lot of time to spend on one image and retouch it till perfection. Of course, I didn’t have it, but there’s still some difference even after the quick fixes I made. Someone more skillful and with more time for retouching would have done a much better job, of course.
I’ve heard of this technique before, but I’ve never tried it myself, as I generally only do some basic retouching. But it seems like it could be useful for retouchers who want to make sure blemish healing is spot on. And until someone doesn’t invent a cream that heals absolutely all blemishes, I might need to use this Photoshop technique for my skin, too.