Portrait editing series: 1 – How to retouch skin in Lightroom

On my Lightroom workshops one of the most popular things we cover is editing a portrait using the healing tool and adjustment brushes to create the perfectly natural portrait. On my personal branding sessions I ‘beauty re-touch’ all the portraits that get selected. I don’t want to ‘airbrush’ to the point that my subject looks unrecognisable to their clients – but I do want to help someone feel confident to share their portrait – its them on a good hair/skin day!

There are 3 most important steps to retouching a personal branding headshot:

1- Skin

2 – Eyes

3 – Teeth

Let’s start with a portrait that has been edited with your preset – this image (straight out of camera below left) uses my preset ‘Paint’ from my Fine Art Collection.

STEP 1: Once I’ve applied my preset, and adjusted exposure and/or contrast if needed, I start with any blemishes that need retouching. I use the HEAL tool on 95% – make sure you change size and pick an area with a similar focal plain to match from. Leave any beauty spots/moles unless the client has asked you to remove these.

STEP 2: Let’s soften the skin by using the FLAWLESS SKIN brush – I suggest having the full face in your frame to do this – not too close up! Brush over the trouble areas – around the eyes, chin and forehead. Now collapse the menu using the arrow and bring down the ‘amount’ until you feel this looks natural. I usually find this is about 50% of the original brush. Note: Make sure you have Auto Mask ticked – this will mean that the brush won’t go over the eyes and mouth. (scary red face picture below to illustrate!)

STEP 3: Eye wrinkles are the thing that everyone wants addressing! Under the eye lines are the ones your client hate the most! Many of your personal branding clients will be parents – time and late nights take their toll on the best of us! You will be using the HEAL tool for this – head over to the next post – 2: How to brighten eyes in Lightroom – in the series to see this in action.

THATS IT! SKIN DONE! HERE IS A BEFORE AND AFTER. NEXT in the series is How to Brighten Eyes – so hop over there and you will be on your way to successfully completing the basic retouching stages that you need to do for a great looking portrait.

If you would like to cover these steps with me over a 1-1 virtual Zoom call then book on my QUICK FIX here and I can help you with this, or any other troubleshooting issue you are having with Lightroom such as workflow or presets.

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