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Friday, July 27, 2012

Retouch Away Shiny Skin In Photoshop—07/30/12

Patti Thompson Published in Tip Of The Week
Retouch Away Shiny Skin In Photoshop—07/30/12
This Article Features Photo Zoom

Digital Photo Tip Of The Week
I know very little about makeup. As a man, I seldom wear it. That means I'm not especially comfortable suggesting ways for women to modify their makeup when they look a little shiny on camera. Telling a man to put on makeup… well that's even worse.

But makeup is really helpful for portrait photography, mostly because it's a great way to mitigate shiny, oily skin. Shiny skin can create overexposed, blown-out highlights on cheeks and noses and foreheads, and a little powder goes a long way to eliminating those blown out highlights.

Even if you're makeup averse, though, you can correct shiny skin fairly easily in post-production. Photoshop's paintbrush can become a powerful tool in one's "digital makeup" arsenal—even more powerful than actual makeup itself.

To repair shiny skin with a paintbrush, first choose a soft brush at a large size. Than means a hardness of 0% and a size large enough to avoid making streaks but small enough not to be too broad to use precisely. A good rule of thumb is a brush approximately the size of the eyeball on the subject you're working on.

Digital Photo Tip Of The Week
With the brush selected, set its opacity to about 25%, then set the flow the same. Like so many Photoshop techniques, the key here is to build up your manipulation little by little, bit by bit, and low opacity and flow are key.

Armed with a large, soft, fairly translucent brush, you'll next use the eyedropper tool (or with the paintbrush active simply CTRL-click to engage the eyedropper) and choose an ideal skin tone adjacent to the area you want to repair. That means if the highlight is obliterating part of the cheek, choose a color from a part of the cheek that has good values you want to recreate. If you want to repair a blown out highlight on the forehead, click on a part of the forehead to select an ideal color, and if you want to repair a nose highlight, click on part of the nose that's representative of the color to repair.

With the appropriate color selected, start painting away the blown out highlights. Because the opacity and flow are set so low, it will take a few passes to build up enough tone to make a major change. But this is good. Subtle changes appear more realistic.

Digital Photo Tip Of The Week
If you find that you're also lightening tonal values that don't need to be lightened, you can set the brush's blending mode to Darken. This will leave darker pixels alone and only paint in the blown out highlights. Be careful, though, because this approach can look a little off if overused. I tend to prefer the Normal painting mode to Darken.

No matter which approach you choose, consider starting with an image on its own layer—duplicated from the background by clicking CTRL-J. This way you can quickly and easily toggle the layer on and off to see how effective your edits are, you can mask away part of the top layer if you go too far, and if you make a big mistake you can instantly revert back to the untouched original layer below. In my experience there's no better way to minimize shiny skin and make someone look their best than this simple paintbrush technique. Well, except maybe for actual makeup itself.
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