Retouching in Photoshop

Retouching in Photoshop – Skin and Eyes

Lightroom has so many great tools that Photoshop is fast becoming redundant for most tasks.

Retouching is one area where Lightroom still needs development. There are tools for skin softening and bumping eyes, but they don’t really have the same accuracy or fine results.

For most commercial work I do, Lightroom is fine – the shots are usually small and on websites, a little negative clarity does the trick.

But if you’re competing in club competitions, or doing fashion and beauty images, then there’s a couple of things worth looking up

1 – Frequency Separation Skin Softening

The choice of the pros and serious competition photographer. I’ll not explain how it works, just type it into GOOGLE and watch a video – you can even get Photoshop Actions to help too.

On this before/after of Alina Jansone, we’ve got a shot from LIGHTROOM, and a version where Frequency Separation was applied.

You can see how much difference it makes – you could argue that such smooth skin is a little unreal, but its the way we see people on every magazine and advert.



2 – Eyes

Again, these are always enhanced to some extent.

The method I’ve used is here:-


It’s really effective – you can add extra colour and all sorts. In the Alina shots, I added in reds from her flowers, greens a blues. Then did the “dodge and burn” to give a more 3D effect on the pupil. Seems so simple when you watch the video, just never really thought of doing it that way.



On both of these examples, the eyes and skin completely change the feel of the shot. So why don’t we do it to all our portraits?


It takes a long time to do both of these things properly – it took about :-

  • 20-30 minutes to do the Frequency Separation
  • 15 minutes to do the eyes

You can probably speed this up with experience – automating common steps will help.

But if I did this on every job, editing 50 photos would take 25 hours – or 3 long days. Not everyone has the budget for that – so “-20 clarity” is the usual solution. Either that or outsource the processing to one of the hundreds of Indian companies who offer their retouching services!

Sunday Best

So yes, these results look great, and yes, I’d recommend investing a few hours getting used to them because the results can be pretty amazing.

But I’d probably not recommend doing it every shot from a wedding, just save it for the very best shots – the ones your your portfolio.

If you do offer this, add it as an “extra cost” to cover the increased time it takes.

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