Skin Tones and Saturation

Evening Out Skin Tone

Once you’ve removed all the blemishes, there are several other things you can do to improve the appearance of a portrait. Our model here has very good skin, but if skin texture is a problem then you can use selective blurring to smooth it out.

Select the Lasso tool from the tool palette. You can use this to select areas of an image for adjustment. You can soften the edges of the selection by using a setting called Feather. You’ll find this at the top of the screen. Set a Feather value of 15 pixels for a very soft edge.

Using the Lasso tool, carefully draw around all areas of open skin texture, avoiding any edges or details such as the nose and eyes. You can do this a bit at a time, adding to your initial selection by holding down the Shift key while drawing the next bit. You can de-select areas by holding down the Alt key and drawing round them.

When you’re happy with your selection, go to the Filter menu at the top to the screen, roll down to Blur, and select Gaussian Blur.

You’ll see a window like this. Set a very small level of Gaussian blur, preferably no more than two pixels. If you overdo the effect the result will look artificial, like wax or plastic. You want just enough to smooth out any rough texture, but not enough to hide every detail. As with most image editing, subtlety is the key.

When you’ve finished, press Ctrl+D to cancel the area selection.

Increase Lip Saturation

We can make our model look even more attractive by increasing the saturation of the colour of her lips. Again using the Lasso tool, but this time with a Feather of five pixels, carefully select the lips, using the Alt key to de-select the teeth.

You’ll find the Saturation adjustment in the Enhance menu under Adjust Colour (or “Color”, since it’s an American program…). Select it and a control panel with three sliders will appear.

Move the saturation slider to the right, to a value of between +30 and +40. If you overdo it the result will look garish and unnatural. Again, subtle is better.

When you’ve finished, press Ctrl+D to cancel the area selection.

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