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Portrait Retouching Basics

Lesson 1 of 7

Class Introduction


Portrait Retouching Basics

Lesson 1 of 7

Class Introduction


Lesson Info

Class Introduction

First of all I'm excited to be here today, because this is a topic that I love to do. I love retouching. I know it's not a topic that everyone enjoys, to be honest, lets' be honest here, because retouching is something people have a hard time doing. And I get satisfaction out of teaching people how to make it enjoyable. Because if it's not enjoyable, you're gonna hate it, and you're gonna hate your profession, for the most part, if you don't like the retouching process. And I think more than ever- I was having a discussion just yesterday, with Chris Knight, about how these days camera sensors and cameras have gotten really intense in terms of, how many megapixels they have, how sharp their files are- so it can become really hard to retouch if you don't have a proper work flow. So today, even though we have just ninety minutes, and often retouching takes a lot longer than ninety minutes, I wanna cover a lot of good things, and try to outline what my normal process is. So, let's get star...

ted. For those of you who don't know me, I'm, like Jim said, a commercial and editorial retoucher. So I do a lot of work for magazines, art directors, campaigns, what have you, you know, personal projects, fine art work. Pretty much the whole gamut and the whole spectrum. I work directly with photographers. I work directly with agencies, editors, and pretty much everyone. So I have experience in terms of what they're looking for, what photographers are looking for. So it's not just about having my own style as a retoucher, but also being able to accomplish what their tasks and goals are for specific images. But I think ultimately, on top of whatever they're looking for, there's commonalities between everything. And that's what I wanna highlight, is what are these commonalities? And what tools can we use to get there as quick as possible? Because, like I said, even though retouching is not something that is quick, and people always look for you know, what's the fastest way? But often there are techniques and tools that you can use in order to make that process quite quick, and with pretty decent results. And I wanna show you without doing any shortcuts. Because, the biggest thing people look for these days are, what's the quickest way to retouch? And I think that mentality has to change. It has to be, what's the best way to retouch? And, how can I get faster at it? Because when you focus on that, then retouching can become, you know, what you want it to. It can bridge the gap from what you're seeing, to how the final retouched image looks in your mind. Because photoshop is just a tool to bridge that gap, I think. That's what retouching really is. It's about, how can I take this image that I have taken, and make it look like I saw in my mind that day? And I think half the battle is when you take your photos and bring them home, you see your images on the computer, the next day or the evening, hopefully the next day when you've got some rest, is you realize they're not sometimes as good as what you thought they were in your mind. That's what happened to me as a photographer. When I would shoot, I would bring these images home and they didn't look as good as I imagined them to be. And I realized, my imagination was running wild that day and there were a lot of emotional factors that came into play, there are a lot of factors that you know, I was kind of imagining, but also it's like video in the sense where with video, you don't really see a lot of the flaws of a person when you're there in front of them, but when you take a still, you exemplify everything that you don't really notice. And you wanna take away all that stuff, and make it look like, you know, what you're seeing in your head. So that's what we're gonna talk about. And how to achieve those results.

Class Description


  • Edit portraits with confidence
  • Create an editing workflow that works for you
  • Correct skin like a professional photo editor
  • Work with Photoshop layers
  • Confidently use healing and cloning brushes
  • Expertly dodge and burn


Find the thought of portrait retouching daunting? Professional photo editor Pratik Naik teaches photographers how to make the process simple -- and enjoyable -- in this 90-minute quick start class.

Rather than focusing on image-specific edits, learn the editing tool essentials that you can use on any portrait. Develop the best photo editing workflow for your photography and finish those edits faster. Gain the confidence to work with the healing and clone brush editing tools. Discover how to dodge and burn non-destructively.

Whether you are working with RAW files or JPGs, learn how to create a high-end portrait edit that flatters without airbrushing that plastic look. Edit photos with confidence, on a Mac or PC, inside Adobe Photoshop.


  • Beginner and Professional photographers working with portraits
  • Novice to intermediate photo editors
  • Photoshop beginners
  • Self-taught editors ready to create better retouches

SOFTWARE USED: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017


With more than a decade of experience, Pratik Naik is a high-end professional photo editor. Working primarily in the commercial and editorial sectors, his image retouching work has appeared in magazines like Marie Claire, Elle, Zink, and others. With a straightforward, fun teaching style, Pratik is also a mentor and instructor for photographers and photo editors.


  1. Class Introduction

    In this brief lesson, meet your instructor and learn what to expect over the course of this 90-minute class covering the start-to-finish editing process.

  2. Tools of the Trade

    Learn what you need for working in photo retouching -- and why working on a cheap monitor isn't such a good idea. The right photo editing tools will make sure you're seeing the images the way potential clients will see them, whether that's in your online photo editing portfolio or in print.

  3. Setting up a Game Plan

    Don't just jump into the edit the moment the photo editing software opens. Start with a game plan and start seeing the final image in your mind and noting how you'll get there. Pratik suggests starting by recognizing the areas to fix and marking those spots with a different color. He suggests making a plan for the healing brush before moving to the clone brush (and another layer) and the dodging and burning process, quickly marking each area.

  4. Healing and Clone Brush

    With a game plan in place, start working with the healing brush to fix the most noticeable skin imperfections for portrait retouching. Learn what settings to use on your brush as well as the necessary setting to heal from a new layer. Then, follow along with the healing brush process, including skin touch up and removing stray hair. Learn keyboard shortcuts for adjusting the brush and other time-saving options. Then, work with the clone brush for beauty retouching.

  5. Dodging and Burning

    The traditional doge and burn process lightens and darkens specific areas of the image, either to correct skin tone or create smoother highlight-shadow transitions. Learn Pratik's professional photo editing workflow for the dodge and burn process using a curve adjustment layer. But, don't forget to save your editing work. Pratik suggests PSD or TIFF, the latter which can handle larger files.

  6. Blend Modes and Adjustment Layers

    In this lesson, learn color correction techniques as well as editing essentials on using blend modes and adjustment layers. Follow along as Pratik uses brushwork and a layer in the color blend mode to correct contaminated colors and remove color casts.

  7. Liquify Tool & Unsharp Mask

    The liquify tool is easy to overdo. Learn how to tastefully use the liquify tool in beauty retouching to add body to the hair or correct lens perspective distortion. Finally, sharpen that retouched image using the unsharp mask and save the image (along with JPGs for the web).


Paloma Aviles

He is fantastic, the best online teacher you can have. You learn a lot from him, he made easy photoshop. I recommend his course 100%.

Anastasia Roschina-Kulakova

Retouching is my favourite part of the art process, and here I found really nice and helpful tips for an easier workflow! Thank you!


Best Educator amazing instruction