How To Smooth Skin in Photoshop in 3 Ways

Can’t understand how to smoothen skin in Photoshop realistically and fast? Follow one of my three tutorials on how to soften skin and make your portraits look amazing.

Method 1. Smooth Skin through Frequency Separation

smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation
 
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To fix various skin defects, many photo retouchers use this method. It involves two independent levels of image editing. At the first stage, you work with high frequencies, eliminating such flaws as wrinkles, acne, scars, skin pores, strands of hair and others.

Editing tones, colors, volume, light and dark areas are performed when you work with low frequencies.

Step 1: Duplicate Layers

To smooth skin in Photoshop using this technique, you need to make 2 copies of the layer.

Select the “Background” layer and press Ctrl + J (Cmd + J) twice. Next, name these layers Low Frequency (LF) and High Frequency (HF) respectively.

To rename layers, you need to double-click on their names. Thus, it will be easier for you to navigate later.

how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation duplicating layers

Step 2: Apply Gaussian Blur

Before proceeding to the HF layer, you need to blur the skin texture of the LF layer. Use the blurring filter to soften skin in Photoshop until all imperfections disappear completely. You can find the necessary option by going to the menu Filter - Blur - Gaussian Blur.

how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation gaussian blur

Applying this technique, you should use the correct radius to remove all the flaws. Set the slider position when the texture looks a bit blurry.

how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation gaussian blur

Tip: For close-up shots, set the radius of 6-8 px, medium-size – 3-5 px and for full-length photos – 1-3 px.

how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation gaussian blur result

Step 3: Work with High Frequency Layer

Enable the visibility of the HF layer and select Image - Apply Image.

how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation apply image

Enter the values you see in the picture in the following boxes:

  • Layer
  • Channel
  • Invert
  • Blending
  • Opacity
  • Scale
  • Offset
how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation apply image values Layer: Low Frequency • Invert: ✓ • Blending: Add Opacity: 100% • Scale: 2 • Offset: 0

As a result, you will see only the outlines and the whole image will be gray. Press “OK”.

how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation high frequency

Step 4: Change the Blend Mode

Without leaving this layer, switch from Normal blending mode to Linear Light.

how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation blend mode

Your picture will look like the original photo.

how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation high frequency result

Step 5: Create a Correction Layer

Then, you need to create an empty layer between the HF and LF layer.

You can do this with the shortcut Shift + Ctrl + N (Shift + Cmd + N).

how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation correction layer

This will help you clean up the result with the Eraser, if there’s going to be something you don’t like.

Step 6: Use the Mixer Brush Tool

The next tool is Mixer Brush Tool. It lets you work with transitions between light and dark areas. To find this function, you need to open the toolbar and double-click on the brush.

To get good results, use the following settings:

how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation mixer brush tool

Clean the Brush after Each Stroke • Custom • Wet: 40% Load: 20% Mix: 20% Flow: 20% • Sample All Layers ✓

In the left part of the panel, click on the eye to hide the HF layer. Use the Mixer Brush Tool on the Correction layer to depict the light and shadow as accurate as possible. In this way, you can remove imperfections.

Move the brush from dark parts of the skin to light ones. These manipulations let you make even out the skin tone and make is smoother.

how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation mixer brush tool

Step 8: Done! Evaluate the Result!

Now you know how to smooth skin in Photoshop using the Frequency Separation technique.

how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation final result how to smooth skin in photoshop with frequency separation final result
 

You need to follow onlys even simple steps to get even skin while maintaining its texture. This is a great quick method for professional image retouching.

Method 2. Smooth Skin in Photoshop through Dodge&Burn

smooth skin photoshop with dodge and burn before after smooth skin photoshop with dodge and burn before after
 

You’ve probably had the experience to use PS tools such as Dodge and Burn. It is worth mentioning that with these tools you can change the exposure settings as well as use a brush to brighten or blur the particular areas on the photo.

These tools are essential for learning how to smooth skin in Photoshop. Dodging and Burning method allows you to remove all skin blemishes without distorting the skin texture.

Step 1. Create a New Layer

Create a new “Curves” adjustment layer.

Go to:

Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Curves...

Click OK in the dialogue window.

Name it “Burn”.

Then, lower the point in the middle of the curve. Simply click on it and drag it down.

smooth skin photoshop with dodge and burn create burn layer

Step 2. Invert the “Burn” Layer

The next step of the fast skin retouching process is inverting the adjustment layer.

Go to:

Adjustment - Invert

smooth skin photoshop with dodge and burn invert burn layer

To quickly invert the layer use the shortcut: Cmnd + I on Mac or Ctrl + I on Windows.

Step 3. Create Curves Adjustment Layer Again

At this point, you need to create another layer.

Once again go to:

Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Curves...

Name the layer “Dodge”. Click OK in the dialogue window.

Lift the point in the middle of the curve.

smooth skin photoshop with dodge and burn create dodge layer

Step 4. Invert the “Dodge” Layer

Now, you need to invert the layer we just created.

Once again go to:

Adjustment - Invert

smooth skin photoshop with dodge and burn invert dodge layer

Don’t forget that you can use the shortcut: Cmnd + I on Mac or Ctrl + I on Windows.

Step 5. Start Dodging and Burning

Choose the brush tool (B) and set the opacity to 40%.

Now you can start Photoshop skin improvement: lightening dark areas and brightening dark areas on your model’s face.

smooth skin photoshop with dodge and burn brush tool

Step 6: Done! Evaluate the Result!

Now you can enjoy the result.

smooth skin photoshop with dodge and burn final result smooth skin photoshop with dodge and burn final result
 

Perhaps at first glance, this seems a little complicated and scary, but in fact, this method is quite simple and effective. All you need to do is use white and black paint to get even and smooth skin.

Besides, this technique lets you keep your skin texture intact.

Method 3. Smooth Skin in Photoshop through High-Pass Filter

skin smoothing photoshop before and after skin smoothing photoshop before and after
 

The next Photoshop skin retouching method is based on using an inverted high pass to smooth out any bumps. You can use it both to improve the skin and to smooth any other surfaces, such as backdrops or fabrics.

This technique is pretty simple. Here’s how you do it.

Step 1. Create a “Spot Healing” Layer

Start performing this type of skin smooth Photoshop retouching by creating a ‘Spot Healing” layer.

Use these combinations: Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+E.

Name it “Spot Healing”.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter create a spot healing layer

Step 2. Remove Small Blemishes

Start removing small blemishes with the Spot Healing Brush Tool.

Zoom in for better results.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter spot healing

This wouldn’t make any drastic results, but this will clean up the model’s face pretty well.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter spot healing result

Step 3. Create a “Smooth Skin” Layer

The next step is creating one more layer and name it “Smooth Skin”.

Once again, use the shortcut: Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+E.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter create a smooth skin layer

Step 4. Apply Gaussian Blur

Now, choose Gaussian Blur from the Filter menu.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter gaussian blur

Select the radius of 6 Pixels.

Click “OK”.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter gaussian blur radius

Step 5. Create a High Pass Filter

Take these steps: Filter-Other-High Pass.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter

Enter a 6.4 Radius and confirm by clicking OK. Set the desired value by moving the slider from zero.

You will not see bulky volumes or excessive tonal transitions if the radius is too small (for example, one or two pixels). A too large value (about 10 pixels) will not give the desired result either.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter radius

Step 5. Change the Blend Mode

Then you should change the Blend Mode. Select Linear Light.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter linear light blend mode

Your image will look like you’ve added clarity to it.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter blend mode

Step 6. Invert the Layer

The next step of this skin smoothing Photoshop tutorial.

Press Cmd/Ctrl+I combination to invert the layer quickly.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter invert

The photo will now appear blurry.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter invert the layer

Step 7. Apply a Mask and Invert It

Click the Add Layer Mask button in the Layers panel. A white box will appear next to the “Smooth Skin” Layer Thumbnail.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter adding mask

Then, invert the mask by going to Image – Adjustments – Invert or using the shortcut: Ctrl+I for Windows and Cmnd+I for Mac.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter inverting the mask

Step 8. Use the Brush Tool

Select the Brush Tool to paint on the mask and cover imperfections.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter brush tool

Step 9. Done! Evaluate the Result

The job is done! Now you know how to smooth skin in Photoshop using the High Pass Filter.

skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter final result skin smoothing photoshop with high pass filter final result
 

High pass skin retouching is an important part of the workflow of any professional photo editor. Using the inverted high pass technique to enhance the skin look is an essential complement to your dodge and burn skills.

You can edit the portrait subtly and neatly. This method lets you correct uneven makeup, add volume to your hair, eliminate a greasy highlight, etc.

However, be careful. If you overdo it, you can get the opposite result.

Freebies for Skin Smoothing

There is no need to select filters and effects all over again to retouch skin. With these free Photoshop actions, the software will “remember” your adjustments just by one click of a button. and make the skin smoothing process much easier.

Smooth Skin #1

how to smooth skin in Photoshop action how to smooth skin in Photoshop action
 

This Photoshop action is recommended for studio or beauty portraits taken on the plain background. Give your model a natural and pinky skin tone, emphasized her make-up.

Smooth Skin #2

smooth skin photoshop action smooth skin photoshop action
 

If you took a close portrait at the street under natural light, download and apply this free smooth skin Photoshop action. This Photoshop filter will adjust shadows and remove small skin blemishes and too vivid facial hair.

Smooth Skin #3

skin smoothing photoshop action skin smoothing photoshop action
 

The most universal Photoshop action for portraits of men and women. Apply it to make your model’s skin soft and pure. It gets rid of small imperfections and poor light distortions.


Ann Young

Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a professional blogger, read more

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