Thursday, January 16, 2014

Day Four, Learning Four: Skin Softening

I said from the beginning that this blog and my 100 Days of Learning Challenge was going to be specific to what I needed to learn, which is inextricably linked to the equipment I use.  So a little bit about what to expect, and then on to the learning. 

I’m a Nikon shooter.  I have a D600 and use a D7000 as back up. I love ‘em.   I own more lenses than I should, three SB-800 flashes, and a variety of light modifiers.  Maybe I’ll write about equipment later.  On the software/editing side I use Lightroom 3.6 and Photoshop 6.  Probably I should upgrade those....  And I work on a PC.

Which leads me to learning four, which is a technique for skin softening in Photoshop.  There are several ways to soften skin, and they each have advantages and disadvantages that make them more or less useful, depending on the image.  Here’s one way:

1.  Duplicate your image by dragging to the New Layer icon at the bottom or pressing ctrl J (or Command J on a Mac).

2.  On the new, top layer, go to Filter - Blur - Surface Blur.  Name your new layer Surface Blur.  Your Layer Adjustment panel should look like this:

3. Set your Radius between 3 and 5 pixels.

4. Set your Threshold between 14 and 24.  Your Filter box will look like this:
Notice how it's overly blurred?  That's fine, because we're not going to apply all of that blur.  So go ahead and--

5. Press Okay

6. Apply a new Layer Mask by holding down the Alt key and clicking on the Layer Mask icon.  This creates a black layer mask.  If your mask is white, you can click on the mask, hold down the Alt, and hit your Backspace key to turn it black.  This hides the surface blur you just applied

7.  Select your paint brush, make sure the color is set to White, and paint over the skin area of your model.  Avoid the edges of the skin, nose, lips, eye lashes, etc.  You want those sharp!  You should be painting white on the black layer mask.  Only the painted areas will have the surface blur applied to them.  Also, it’s best to reduce either the Density of the Flow of the brush in order to have control over the results.  I used a Density of 65 and a Flow of 15.

When it looks the way you want it to, flatten the image and you're done.

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