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Concept-Driven Commercial Photography

Lesson 15 of 22

Skin Retouching in Photoshop Part 1

Joel Grimes

Concept-Driven Commercial Photography

Joel Grimes

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Lesson Info

15. Skin Retouching in Photoshop Part 1

Lesson Info

Skin Retouching in Photoshop Part 1

If there's ten ways to do something there's a hundred ways to do it if there's a hundred ways to do it there's a thousand ways to do it so the good news is that I don't have to know everything about photo shop but we talked about minimizing destruction yesterday so that my work flow I keep going back t what are the best ways to get me from point a to point b without destroying pixels bit depth, quality whatever um now I know that I've said this and again I'm gonna say it again that because I'm color blind it takes me down a path that's unique to me so I do things a little different and someone may say why aren't you doing this well again it just doesn't fit the path that I'm going down so I'm gonna show you what I do for skin retouching and I just learned something new on I hope that it goes smooth because um it's it's really cool is called frequency separation and that's a term again we use and it's now on you know it's kind of get out there and there's a couple versions of it but we'...

re going to go through one version hopefully and I've been using it it's just that oh I kind of built memory talk about building action so you figure out to do it you build in action then you go and you go hit the action and it has all its steps set to set you up and then a month later go how did I do that? You know that sounds kind of where I'm at now so hopefully remember the steps I went over last night um so the first thing I want to do is I want to pick a picture of alex here so I gotta grab three real quick this is the straight on ones some of the side was looked really good but I wanted this for skin, you know, showing skin I think that the straight on one will be a good one toe look and do and I think the closer up one here even though I think maybe hey uh this one here looks pretty good but we're gonna we're gonna do this one here so I am in bridge I did my five star rating on it and I just picked and said give me my all my five stars s o three came up and I had what, twelve minutes or fifteen minutes between the segments so I really had to move fast here. Um but this is what I think we're gonna work on so the first thing I'll do is I'm gonna open it in raw or they're all conversion uh by hitting command are so command are brings me into raw and I'm going to treat it the exact same way that I did my sport one yesterday so one apply the joel grimes look so and I'm going to say it again on saturday I'm gonna talk about branding the importance of brandon I think on saturday maybe it maybe it might be this afternoon but there's a portion why talk about brandi? What I have done in the last sixty years is brand joel grimes love it or hate it I've branded it and branding is what gets you noticed love it or hate it so I'm going to keep and I've done this we're all my even the fashion beauty but whatever I do the same kind of steps now I change it up a little bit but I'm still doing joel graham stamp and so what we're gonna do is we're gonna take and bring her shadows up a little bit to the right not as faras I would have done my probably my sports guy we're gonna pull back the highlights and that's going to take out a little bit of the the what we would call the hot spots if there is softened the contrast now on clarity I'm not gonna move clarity to the right remember yesterday we did clarity because look what happens she starts getting a little bit too sharp we're going to be a sharpener up later too if you want but let's keep that zeroed out there and so that is the first part of the of my sort of my controls and raw and I'm gonna open it as a smart object I've already preset like yesterday that when I click on open, uh, object, it opens a smart object if you don't have a set, just hit the shift key down go click it's gonna bring me over to photo shop and here we are and I have a smart object I'm going to duplicate that smart object via smart copy, so I right click it and it says new smart object via copy let go! I'm now going to go and double click go back to raw on the top player. I'm going to go to black and white member we did this yesterday grayscale h s l slash grayscale convert to black and white now here's where it all happens for me is I have the ability to manipulate the skin tones so on the athlete, I'd wanted to darken the skin on the beauty fashion I wanna lighten it so we're gonna go this way look at that skin absolutely gorgeous. It lightens the skin this way darkens oh, my gosh, we don't want that right? So I'm gonna push it this way now there's a limit I don't want to go to farm and checkmate trauma yellow here, slider there's a limit to I don't want to go make her look like an alien but I love that little bit of a porcelain skin look I'm gonna take my red channel and maybe darkened the lips just a tad here let's see probably right about there and I'm not locked into that cause I'm gonna hit okay and then I'm gonna blend it and the best blending load that I have come up with right now a soft light so let's take it off that was what I ke first came over that's the second so that's the look that I d'oh and so if I'm not happy with that I could go back and say change the contrast uh you know exposure whatever move my highlights a little bit but my experience has told me pretty darn close to what I want right there that's a pretty good starting spot for me so I have that member I have the option of going shift command or option or no shift alter option on the uh mac command e gives me a snapshot so if I'm not ready to put the ring on the finger commit I go and I can work from there but I know at this point I think I'm pretty darn close uh to what I want so I'm gonna flatten that and I'm going to now move on to my um sort of skin retouching thing now also at this point if if before I start doing all this I might actually go into free transforming to fix a few things so let's do that because I don't want to forget that so let's go in to liquefy and I am going to fix a little bit these these frizzy hair see little frizzy hair is there so I'm gonna go over here to my the left tools uh palate and I'm going to find my ah mask which is right here I believe so let's go bigger here and I'm going to run a mask down here on the sides because I don't want to change the shape of her face okay? You just got to do it on the sides here maybe let's run a little bit closer here now I go over to my push tool I believe it's pushed to all us let go work the ford warp tool and I'm going to make my brush bigger got to make sure because I got a little circle here and now I can start to push in those little frizzy now I'm changing and warping the pixels right? But because it's a great background if I have to fix that little gray later I could do that so let's go back bigger here and I'm just gonna fix those little warps and aiken I can actually take those out and photoshopped painstakingly but I tell you what this is so much easier just a fixed diesel frizz ease by going along like this okay whips and that money be careful I don't pull it down like that I thought the fix that later but it's gonna push it in here but see what happens so let's go back one more click so I want to make it look natural here something move in the hair just enough tell make sure it looks good okay and we don't because I've set that mask up with just by brushing it I get a pretty clean transition there of the hair and everything so that's a pretty good start time so I'm gonna say okay so already look at that looks better all right so I'm going teo show you my and actually came up with this technique and believe me I told you I'm not brilliant but one day I sat down and started doing this is about six years ago and I came up with this technique I'm a show you what I do and I've been doing this on a lot of my retouching and it's a more of a global slight softening of the skin but keeping detail so I'm gonna make four copies of my image the bottom copy I'm going to go and again I have a action button for this um we're going to make it into a median we're going to change it to median and I'm going to set it at about thirty thirty is way too much however we're going to be able to find two it by open my opacity on my second their third layer up hold on sorry third layer up I'm going to go to high pass so other so I'm going to need to filter other high pass and we're going to give it a listen a ten and then we're going to change the blending mode toe overlay and so how do I know that well when I went to high pass do you see it was all gray overlay punches a hole right through gray so apply something but you don't see the grey so I've just applied overlay soft light is half strength of overlay and then on the top layer I'm going to make a mask okay so now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna turn off the two bottom layers come over here and get a brush I'm gonna make my brush black and I make it a hundred percent uh opacity hundred percent flow and I'm going to change my I'm gonna write click changed my hardness so there's not it's kind of soft but it's not all the way perfect soft ok and now what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna be able to paint it we'll just make it bigger I'm getting thrown off by that little this little uh circle that for everyone some of the pain in and wherever I paid we'll apply the technique so I wanted just on the skin, but here's what? Here's a little trick I'm just gonna go actually go like this come along here and this would be now that I'm doing frequency separation this would be I would say a kind of an early predecessor toe frequency, frequency separation and what I mean by that is that this I'm taking two layers ah soft layer and a harsh layer and I'm actually going to blend those two together to get the desired results that I want now we don't want her eyes and lips to be had that effect, so I hit the x key, which now switches mito white and I can paint her eyes this eyebrows and that's not a very good painting job there, so let's move in a little bit so by toggle ing between the x I can clean it up a little bit here so I want to make sure the hairs don't get that soft effect, right? So let's go right here and you don't have to be perfectly accurate with this, right? So it's just a general because I have a soft brush. It allows me to, um I have a little bit of a guess um leeway and how accurate I am so let's go down here, I think I'm pretty good okay looks kind of freaky, doesn't it? So now what I would do is I wanna click back on my two bottom layers and it's gonna look overly done right? So let's zoom man and we go whoa you know we've lost yes this looks like one of those plug ins you buy you know so that's okay because now I have the ability to feather these two layers to give me the desired results now leads to stop for a second when we started re touching skin and in the early days I say early days but let's say say seven, eight years ago we were like, so excited to make someone skin looked like mush yeah, we can take out the blemishes right? And now what's happened is the demand for a higher level of skin retouching has at ours in our fear tips not just the expert re touches air doing it we're now learning tools and so in the industry were getting picky on pickier at how well we do skin and the old mush plastic mannequin look is a thing of the past I hope kind like hdr the older overdone hdr is sort of behind us now. And so um it's to your advantage at this point to get your skill level up on reed skin retouching because if you don't go, uh, looks like a plastic mush matt mannequin you know and so we don't want that and you could do that really easily with this look so what I want to dio is I'm gonna feather back my opacity here so let's take it down to about thirty and you can see let's take a look at her cheek right here um that now with the hi past so I take the high pass off let's go back let's go back here we're going this is all mush right? So if I take and go down about thirty percent take my high pass drop it down look how that the combo of the two work together well but let's go back thirty percent there and take the high pass all the way down to zero and as I build a high pass up it brings back the texture and so again because I'm going to go now do some other redskin retouching techniques I don't want to globally do it like one thing I want to keep this is just give me a nice little touch to the skin that gives a little bit of softness but not overly done and so over time my percentages have gotten lower and lower and lower does that make sense? So when I first started he was probably fifty fifty now is about thirty thirty so um and how much meeting you apply and how much high pass will change the the percentages that you do but so now what I do is that over I look as it overall um you know how's it looking on my skin pretty darn good it's still there you see the hair on our honor on her face is there um and let's go back down a little bit take a look at it um looks pretty darn good I mean for like said thirty thirty's about a good place to say I'm good good to go on this sword technique yes jon do you keep a soft earning layer and the high price layer at the same capacity no no I just happened right now and that sort of falls I might go a little bit fifty percent here if I let's look at it that the higher your high pass layer the more pours you'll see so it's kind of a balancing act member the teeter totter thing so it's really kind of a cool technique and this got a lot of attention early on I put on my block and and I was really surprised people say I've been using years getting rejected you know technique for years and so all right so there we go um actually let me pull that down a little bit there and I pull that down just a little bit just to be safe I didn't overdo it now I'm gonna have to make a decision to flatten it so I'm gonna do that I'm gonna say command f you are my little shortcut for flattening and so I'm back to back to my base again so now we're going tio the next steps and someone to frequency separation I'm gonna command j twice and I'm gonna take the bottom layer and we're gonna put a name on here and I'm gonna put lo on the bottom one and input high on the top one and so on the way and we're gonna group these were a group of because that gives me ability a toggle on enough to see what we've done so let's group it will call this skin and then um there's a number of versions of this but let's just go with what I think is the simplest I'm gonna go over on my loan, okay? We're gonna go to um we're gonna go to filter we're going to go to noise, dust and scratches that's the first one and I'm going to set my radius so I jumped ahead of myself to a point where your tools start to blend together see the preview there so between twenty five some around there okay that's my loe mihai let's let it do its thing I goto image apply image so we go to image apply image and I'm going to subtract merged too low scaled to offset twenty one twenty eight and like I said, you could go to add and go invert and just put your scale it too that's another option I saw but right now let's do this and we're going to set our blending mode too linear light so now it should be that when I click and let go that there is absolutely no effect happening the two actually offset the each other so um so what we're going to do now is we're going to close that and I'm gonna make above here we're going to make a black and white we're going to make a levels where's my levels levels and here's why do this? I've actually been doing this for many years I want to take out the color for now I want to darken the skin to where I bring out every a flaw on her skin I want exaggerate the flaws that they're easy to find okay and so on the black and white level take the red to the right left and look at all the little flaw started pop up now what you don't want to do is do this in front of the model she starts to freak okay and I'm gonna take my levels and I'm gonna darken now do you see all the reporters and the problems? Okay that's a good that's good we want to see that and I'm gonna make one more adjustment layer layer level turnoff here she comes alex is walking in the door okay and then I'm going to make a blank letter layer a shift command and we're gonna fill it with grey so I gotta go to overlay fifty percent grey and this is gonna be my dodge and burn layer okay, so that's above all those so let's go back to my skin let's go too high we're going to uh click on the uh let's go down here click on the healing brushed tool not the spot healing brush too but the healing brush tool I'm going to set my, um I'm going to set my current layer and I'm going to, uh make my brush let's go find my brush here to an elliptical type it comes to five uh defaulted at one hundred percent round we're going to make it we will squish it in a little bit and this is brilliant. I didn't do this for years, but now I realize the importance of that so let's let's go in here and let's watch the effect happened so I'm on my high layer we're on healing brush current layer and so what I do is I'm going to, um, option or all click and pick up and just take out the flaw watch this just so beautifully and quickly I can now just clean up now because I'm so over exaggerated on all the tones hear that you know when I go back to whip's picked that up when I go back to my normal uh value setting it's amazing how quickly or how quick this it looks like what you're doing is his amazing technique so let's just do this really fast now this may take me twenty minutes to do this right? So I'm gonna do it really fast here and just I'm picking up selecting around the the uh the spot I want to clean up but look at this and you are completely fixing the, uh the spot and leaving texture so know that mush ever done that with a spot um or a stamp tool you end up getting mush so right now let's just do this as fast I can and you could go pretty fast I'm actually going fashion I probably should while I'm talking here but I'm cleaning up the pores or the spots but I'm still keeping oh, I went in the wrong section there did you see that? I don't know why I just jumped up there okay? So I'm now going along here and picking up my little now there's a big round dark spot I don't want to take and do that right? I don't want to do that with this little technique I'm gonna fix that with dodge and burn but we really want the pores or you know, little flaws like this to be picked up now the good news is I don't have to do everything at once, right? I can go back and do some dodgy and burning here in a minute and then come back so here's, how I do it, I kind of make a general pass, get the big ones and then I go back, and I kind of like, maybe do some dodging bernie and then come back and do another little general pass and I build and build and build. And finally, I get this I want so let's. Go down here, let's, show let's show you how this works down here. This is great. Wash this boom! Look how fast that cleans up now. It's gonna leave a little bit of mark there because it doesn't take everything out one hundred percent. We got a lot of little spots down here, and then this technique is a brilliant it just comes along here and almost as fast as you can. Click. You can pick those spots up and get rid of him. I see that. Now. This is like the first pass again. I may come back and might go and that's a big spot there, but again, that was not gonna pick up because we already done it there, so you get the point pretty darn cool. Lots of people absolutely loving this in the chat room. This is fun. This is really fun. I'm going to remember you got to make chair on the right layer when you're doing this. Okay, so there's a big spot there? We don't want to fix that we'll do that in a minute. That was the right click we don't want right click we want all option clique were just stamp and that's really tough to get that little spot there, right? So we're picking it up I would probably spend a little more time on that, but let's move on to, um the dodger burn well before I do that let's go back and turn off this and take a look so already we see that lets go down below here on and off awful because now it's not dark and, you know, pulled but it looks they're just amazingly disappeared right now the low layer let's do the low layer and I'm not I can't I can't say that right now when it comes to the frequency separation technique, I'm not a super expert on this section right here and part of it is because when it comes to color I have some issues I have a hard time, but let me show you what that does you go to your stamp tool and you set your blending mode to lighten you say current layer and what this does is this takes and transfers the color of the skin from one part to another with a real smooth blend so for example, we have a little bit of a wall, remember? Remember our little problem along the cheeks here so what I can do see there's no let's go back here. Go back to my levels. See this section right here? That's got some problems. So now what I do is I I take and use the ault option again I go click and aiken pate, right, right. But in here I'm on a stamp, okay? We can change your percentage appear so let's get a little more percentage, but basically you transfer the color from one part to another. Does that make sense? So it takes out little wobbles. We're gonna do some dodging burn here in a minute, but this gives me a little bit of an option to kind of just clean up areas here and there's a limit obviously to how far you can go but let's go up to the top here. So like here's a little section right here so we're gonna go over here and go click and then just paint in a little bit of that color to that area so you're not really dodging burn you're actually transferring color of the skin without doing um the mush effect or whatever like right in here I can clean that up let's try right here so we'll pick that up we're going to fill in right along here just a little bit and my percentage is pretty low thirty five percent capacity and about thirty thirty seven percent flow if I want to increase that effect I make the percentages higher but I don't want to go too far on that so let's just do this and clean and I might might my ability to sort of really tell you what this does is probably not as good as someone's been doing this a little longer than me I might fill in on any of the eyes a little bit here and right up along here looking that's right in here just fill that in and now we go back and turn those off and she's already looking a lot better right? Okay so let's go to what I think is one of the most powerful things in retouching and some of the most underused techniques is dodge and burn and there's all sorts of techniques you can make two different layers you could make a curve layer that does the shadows in the curve later does highlights and that's fine I've tried those but for me the most simple way to do dodge and burn is to take that blank layer that I did filled it with grey go over to dodge and burn take my mid toes of three percent so I'm on mid tones three percent let's go in here and watch what happens I literally can transform this image by dodging and burning so let's go we're on dodge so I come along here and I start just slowly taking out the wobbles now if I hold down the ex key no no thie option key I can switch to burn without having go over to berman we did that yesterday so I'm gonna burn a little spot there and dodge here dodge here dodge and here dodge burn a little bit there and I just start quickly taking out the wobbles in the skin here is a little bit of highlight we take that down dodge back here and to me this is the simplest way to sort of take out the undesired little sections that plagued the skin okay so I'm just going along here I'm still on dodge so there and there's a little teeny spot there is a little too dark coming here like this and I make a pass again so you are did it once now I may go back to my hype hi retouching section over here on her skin and clean up a little bit more little of the flaws so we're going on here now let's take it off look at that skin looks beautiful and I know it's a little blown out I mean because we did that technique but that is just gorgeous and you can go through and do start to finish and probably twenty thirty minutes I mean if you're really fast on now visit for a cosmetic client that would be a little bit different you may take you a lot longer but let's go we're still on the dodge in burns so watch this I'm gonna dodge a spot back here number that will spot we had right there dodge that back still on three percent and I'm just gonna go around and I'm just going to start cleaning up oh my little wobbles so here's a here's a highlight I'm gonna take that down and whatever my eye picks up I'm gonna start doing here that buys a shadow there so it now look now when I reduce my image I see a lot more little problems that didn't see blown up so I go oh look at this I got a problem right in here so I'm gonna burn this down just a little bit right here is a little bit and there's a little problem right here I'm gonna burn on the one side and dodge on the other dodge so you don't take out every wobble because the face does have a face does have some shapes you know it doesn't have to be like a perfect you know eggshell but overall look how clean this is starting to look here and this is how fast I do it, folks so I see a little bit of highlight there to see that there's a little highlight right there someone hit my option burn at in step back okay there's a little bit of a dark spot right there and step back and now I'm starting to get so let's go and click this off and it looks beautiful I still don't like right underneath here just got a little bit of ah um a wrinkle right there see that little wrinkle so let's go back to here we're gonna go back to my high go back to my, um healing spot brush here and we're gonna pick it up right below and yeah gotta be careful where I pick up and where is gonna smooth that out there a little bit there and there's a little chunk there they'll jump there so now I can zoom in and I can clean up some spots a little bit better and there's a spot there will have to work on that a minute in it but it's starting to look pretty good again I'm on my black and white layer which exaggerates everything. Any questions at this point how we doing? I have a quick question um with the healing brush tool the shape that you chose you may have mentioned this but is that just to make it look more natural than well what happens if it's a circle and sometimes when you clone a circle, it kind of makes that kind of a circle feel to it. And I just was watching someone do this once and I went, oh, that that kind of gives a good, um shape that doesn't watch. Watch up here in this line. See that? Take it out now, that might be too much, but, um, it also you know what? I found out who this is interesting if I go to multiply and this is exclusively with joel grimes, you can make the effect half half defect. So let's, try that again. Now, it's half the effect and I just played around blending moans so now and there's a line you want a little bit of a line there, right? You don't take the line out completely. So with this effect frequency separation, if you put your blending mo to multiply, you can you can give half the effect on uh, what it would be with normal and actually in some ways that might be like when we did down here, that might have been a little better approach. But now that multiply, you could maybe just go through it faster a little bit here and just grew quickly, pick up little things and not be is critical because it's half effect, you know you're not worried about it being it's critical. So, uh, you heard it here on creative live, the multiply. All right, so let's, go back to normal there, but let's, go back to where we're at here and turn off our, um, turn off our, too, I guess you'd say, assisting layers in the retouching and that's. Pretty darn good folks. I mean now again, if I was it again. If this was the debate on the client, um, I might spend a little bit more time on it.

Class Description

This course is part of the Joel Grimes Bundle.

Commercial photography isn’t about mastering complex lighting ratios or obscure retouching techniques. Successful commercial photography hinges upon your ability to turn your creative vision into a polished product. In this class, commercial photographer Joel Grimes will teach you how to think of your photography as an artistic process, not a mathematical equation.

Joel, a commercial photographer with more than 25 years’ experience working for top advertising agencies, will reveal his signature lighting, shooting, editing, and marketing methods. Joel will teach you to trust your artistic instincts by demonstrating how he conceptualizes two different photo shoots: an edgy athletic portrait, and a commercial beauty shoot. Joel will also walk you through how to identify the right lighting to attain your desired result.

After transforming the way you think about conceptualizing, lighting, and shooting, Joel will unveil his creative compositing techniques and tips and tricks for retouching skin. By the end of this two-day workshop, you will have a tried-and-true playbook for creating works of photographic art that dazzle commercial clients.

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Fantastic!! He is so down to earth and humble. His work is unique an exceptional and he shares his techniques, experience, tricks, and best of all his life stories that took him to where he is now. One of the best instructors in CL. I love how he checks the ego at the door and just shares his art and techniques with us. I definitely recommend this course and I was lucky enough to get it at a great discounted price but it is worth its regular price imho.


He's my new favorite instructor, there are many CL instructors I really like but the second I watched and heard him I bought the course, love his style, love his knowledge and the way he conveys it. His way of Frequency separation is fantastic and pretty precise and takes care of a lot of flaws. Learned lots! Thanks Joel! Thank heavens I am not color blind ;)


Joel makes it easy to follow when it comes to editing and shooting. He is a wonderful teacher and very easy to learn from. I enjoyed the photoshop techniques he taught as well as his approach to lighting. My favorite part is his advice on business it's very motivating and inspirational. I thoroughly enjoyed this course!