The experts can and do spend hours perfectly retouching the photos in magazines and advertisements. The rest of us are often just interested in basic techniques for fixing up for a friend's wedding photo or something like that. So here are some steps for quick photo retouching. Thanks to stock.xchng user varyamo for the image used in this example.
- Open the image in Photoshop and apply Curves if necessary.
- Duplicate your original layer and clone out any blemishes and distracting details.
- Duplicate the cloning layer and choose Filter > Blur > Surface Blur. I used a radius of 2 px and threshold of 30 here.
- On the surface blur layer, create a layer mask and fill it with black. On the layer mask, paint white with a soft paintbrush to reveal the areas of skin. Reduce surface blur layer opacity to 40% or whatever looks good.
- Create a merged copy of all of the layers below with the shortcut Cmd-Opt-Shift-E.
- Apply a localized sharpen by choosing Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. I used an amount of 500, radius of .3 and threshold of 6 for this image. Use a layer mask to hide any parts that become too sharp. (Steps 5 and 6 are tricks from Lynda.com instructor Chris Orwig—he's got some great retouching training videos in the Photoshop CS3 Portrait Retouching Techniques series.)
Tada! A quick and beautifully retouched image.