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Skin Retouching

Lesson 2 of 7

Retouching Blemishes


Skin Retouching

Lesson 2 of 7

Retouching Blemishes


Lesson Info

Retouching Blemishes

Let's talk about blemishes, and blemishes are the first thing I always hit when I'm retouching an image, and I have four tools that I love to use when retouching blemishes. So her skin is pretty ridiculously perfect, not gonna lie, so what I might do instead of blemishes is maybe use a couple of these highlight areas on the hair as well, but just to show the technique of the tool, but I can also kind of use some of the tiny little spots that we see on her skin. It's actually quite annoying how perfect her skin is. All right, so the first thing that I do when I'm dealing with blemishes, and removing blemishes, is I'm going to create a new layer, and let's name this layer Blemishes, and then, there's a couple things that have to be set up here for this layer. All right, let's see. Let's go to our Patch tool first. What I wanna make sure you do, because I like to do blemishes on an empty layer, the alternative is getting rid of blemishes on a duplicate of a background layer. Does anybody ...

do the duplicate of the background layer? Okay, so a good workaround, and a good rule of thumb is when you duplicate the background layer, you're basically doubling your file size, and by doubling your file size, it just creates a larger document for Photoshop to be processing, and so if you could do that on an empty layer, it's gonna keep your file size smaller, and if you're trying, if you're on an older computer, sometimes that's gonna be really important, keeping the file size smaller so that you can, so that Photoshop can take more of its processing power and devote it to what you're doing, and responding faster to what you're doing. All right, so I've got my Patch tool here, I have my Structure set to 7, and I have my Content-Aware, my Patch set to Content-Aware. So we'll go ahead and we'll just circle, and then what I'm going to do is I'm going to hold down my Shift key, and I'm going to circle another blemish, I knew... All right, so you could also come up here and this is your one selection, and over here is you're gonna add to that selection. So if you see, as soon as I hit this button up here, there's a, can you guys see the little plus sign that's next to the Patch tool? Okay, so what we're going to do is actually select more than one blemish at a time, and so this is one of those work smarter, not harder situations, where there's no reason for you to circle one blemish, and then Patch it, circle another blemish, and then Patch that, circle another blemish, and then Patch that, because it just creates more time. If you can literally make all of the selections around the circles, and then you can click and drag all of them at once, you're saving yourself a lot of time, right? Right, saving a lot of time, so with one move, we've actually we have basically gotten rid of one, two, three, four, five, six blemishes instead of one. So the way you do that is you've got this icon up here for Add to Selection up at the top. The other thing you can do is hold your Shift key down on your keyboard, and that's going to go to that as well. All right, so that is the first tool that I wanted to show you, is using the Patch tool, but it's not just using the Patch tool, it's using the Patch tool smartly. All right, the next brush, the next thing that I love using for getting rid of blemishes is going to be the Healing brush. So the Healing brush tool, this tool right here. So the difference between the Spot Healing brush and the Healing brush, are you guys familiar with this tool? You use it? Okay, great, so the difference between those two brushes is that with the Healing brush, you are responsible for telling Photoshop where to choose the information to make the fix, and you do that by holding down your Option or your Alt key. All right, so we've got this stray hair here, right? So if we are trying, let's pretend we're trying to get rid of this stray hair. All right, so what I was going to basically say is if you sample an area along the area that you want it to fix, that's going to help make the tool work much better for you. So, let's see what will happen if we use the Spot Healing brush, so we just wanna get rid of this right there, and let's give it a little bit more information about what we want the fix to look like. All right, so that worked pretty well. This is me flyin' by the seat of my pants, but that is okay, all right? So what I did was, instead of just doing the area, just of the hair, I kind of incorporated in a little bit of the edge around it, and that really helped to basically show Photoshop what I want the fix to look like, and it did a really, really good job. This is the Content-Aware technology coming into play here, because what it's doing is it's doing a bunch of math on the back end, and it is, and it's basically thinking behind the scenes, and giving you what it thinks the right fix is, all right, and so let me move on, because another place that I love using this Content-Aware technology is going to be on flyaway hairs. So again, we are on the Spot Healing brush, and there are two ways that I use the Spot Healing brush. The first way is by doing, for blemishes. If I am doing blemishes with this tool, the Mode is set to Normal, and it's set to Proximity Match, so Type, Proximity Match. The reason why I choose those settings is because I want the tool to look for, I want the tool to look in the surrounding area when it's fixing a blemish in order to fix that area. And that's why Proximity Match, it's gonna look at the area surrounding where you're working, and it's gonna use that information to make the fix. If I am trying to get rid of flyaway hairs, I use a Mode of Replace, and a flyaway hair is kinda like that eyebrow hair that was out of place, right? So I use a Mode of Replace for flyaway hairs, and I also use a Type of Content-Aware. Now, I'm going to come over here and I'm gonna start getting rid of these hairs. Whenever I'm working on flyaway hairs, I am going to try and use a radius of the brush that's just slightly wider than the hair itself, 'cause that's really all I'm trying to get rid of. All right, let's see, let's get rid of this guy. I could literally do this all day. If you, I wish you guys could see the old way that I used to have to get rid of flyaway hairs. It was a nightmare. It was literally using the Clone stamp and having to pay attention to the direction of each underlying hair underneath it, and then you'd get this far, and then you'd have to re-sample, and then you'd have to go even more, and then you'd have to re-sample again, 'cause all of a sudden, the hairs underneath it are changing direction, and now they're going this way, and it was a complete nightmare, so I don't know how they, what they've done with Content-Aware, the technology, but it's amazing. Let's see, here's a big one. I mean, c'mon, really? That's, yeah, that's pretty great. So anyway, long story short, just wanna recap a little bit about if I am using the Spot Healing Brush tool, if I'm using it for blemishes, I'm using it on Normal Mode and Proximity Match, and if I'm using it for flyaway hairs, I wanna use the Mode of Replace, and I wanna use a Type of Content-Aware. What I like to kind of teach you guys as I'm teaching you about these tools is the fact that giving the tool the right settings is going to make it react much better for you. So that's the really exciting thing, is once you really, really know what a tool does, and how it works, and how it reacts, you can start to tweak those settings within the tool and get really, really great results.

Class Description


  • Confidently use professional techniques to retouch skin.
  • Understand why and when to retouch skin.


Skin, It’s one of the hardest things to retouch, but incredibly important to know how to do correctly, especially if you photograph people! The dreaded, plastic-like, over smoothed look, doesn’t work for any photographer and your clients definitely won’t be happy! Join professional retoucher, Kristina Sherk, as she devotes this class entirely to skin retouching done right. Not only will you learn the tried and tested​ professional techniques, but Kristina will also dive into "why" we retouch skin, which is just as important as the ‘how.” This class will teach you all the techniques you need to know, in order to take your portraits to the next level!


  • All level photographers and retouchers


Photoshop CC 2019


For the past 10 years, Kristina Sherk has been a high-end photo retoucher based out of Washington, D.C. She specializes in beauty retouching and has done work for many clients such as Time Inc., Hasselblad, Merz Aesthetic, and Cotton Incorporated. She loves “translating Photoshop” for people and subsequently, she’s a contributing author for educational publications like Shutter Magazine, Photoshop User Magazine and Lightroom Magazine. She is well-known for her online teaching, and you can find out more at


Shana J

Quick and to the point! I did learn a few things from the course. Thank you. My only issue is that the model's face was already for the most part blemish free and nearly perfect. It would be good to see these techniques done on " not so perfect" skin. Kristina even said that the model's skin was nearly perfect. So why not use an image where we can truly see the skin retouching process at work?

Wayra Sumaq

Amazing class. It would make my work so much easier. Kristina is a great teacher.

Wendy Garfinkel-Gold

Straight on information well-explained in an easy to follow manner. Great class - it was too short! Would like to check out her other classes!