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Re-touching a Portrait


Image Editing Tutorial - Retouching Portraits

Note: For this tutorial I have used Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0, the latest version of this excellent home editing program. However the methods and tools that I have used are common to most image editors, so you should have no problems following this tutorial in recent versions of Adobe Photoshop, Corel Paint Shop Pro, Ulead PhotoImpact, G.I.M.P. or earlier versions of Elements, as well as many others. Where there are differences between different programs I’ve noted them in the text.


You may have seen an advert on TV recently for Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, showing the alterations done to a photograph of a model used in a billboard advertisement. While there’s a lot to be said for this campaign and the unrealistic images of beauty we’re all (men as well as women) expected to live up to, the fact is that portraits have always been idealised representations. Oil paintings of historical figures never show zits and coffee-stained teeth, and professional portrait photographs have always been re-touched. All of the most famous portrait photographers have employed the talents of retouch artists to work on prints and negatives with a brush or airbrush to correct minor blemishes.

Thankfully digital imaging makes this process much easier, and even relatively cheap home photo editing programs contain powerful tools that we can use to get the best out of our photographs. In this first image editing tutorial we’re going to look at several techniques for improving portrait shots. Everyone likes to look their best, and with these tools you can present your friends and family with portraits they’ll be proud of.

Removing Spots and Wrinkles

Here we have a typical casual portrait shot of an attractive girl, the sort of shot someone might take of their girlfriend. It’s a nice enough picture, but the girl wasn’t happy with it, because the camera, as cameras often do, has shown up a number of small skin imperfections. We can get rid of those quite easily though by using the Clone Stamp tool. All good image editing programs have this tool, although sometimes it’s called the Clone Brush. What it does is copy a small area of the image from a specified area and paste it over another area, following the movement of the brush cursor.

Since we’re going to start off by working on the face, let’s zoom in on this area. First, switch to full-screen by clicking on the middle icon on the top right of the image. Next select the Zoom tool from the tool palette, or by using the keyboard shortcut ‘Z’, and click on the subject’s face until it is zoomed in to 200 per cent. Alternatively, you can use the zoom slider at the top of the screen.


January 31, 2013, 7:10 am

Well explained tutorial.


March 5, 2013, 6:17 am

I really like the tutorial specially the images used here for each step give a clear ideas about cover design.

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