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Digital Retouching

One of the primary uses of any photo editing software is the removal of blemishes, spots, wrinkles, and any other blemish, better known as “retouching” the photos that you take. There are a number of various tips, tricks, and methods to retouch your photos, so really the best thing is to try out a number of these different ways and see what works best for you.

From our research, we were able to find three unique ways of retouching photos that proved to be highly effective without giving our photo subjects the dreaded too-smooth “mannequin skin” that is a dead giveaway of over-touching.

Retouching with the Clone Tool

One of the quickest and most intuitive methods, and one that nearly guarantees smooth blending is the clone tool, which is designed for making broad areas more uniform. Make sure that you choose a soft paintbrush as your source for the clone tool, which assures that you avoid any harsh lines. Then, all you have to do is hold Ctrl and with the clone tool, select an area that you would like to use as a sample to cover up spots or blemishes. You can then use the clone tool to “paint over” any blemishes or spots that you might want to get rid of.

Retouching with a Paintbrush

This is a slightly more entailed process, but can yield similar results to the clone tool, and in some instances can give you a little more control over the degree of correction you apply to a photo. With this process, you create a new transparent layer, and then use your paintbrush (again, we recommend a soft paintbrush) and paint over the area you want to cover up. Once your selection is made you choose Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set this retouching layer’s mode to Overlay, duplicate your original layer, and put that at the top, selecting the Hue mode to keep the natural hues of the image. Finally, duplicate the top layer and set that layer to Saturation to save the colors from being lost by the blur.

Retouching with the Wavelet Decompose Plugin

For high-detail, lifelike retouching, we were really impressed with the “Wavelet Decompose” plugin. What this plugin does is create scales based on the level of detail, and creates a new layer for each. This way, you can choose the level of detail that you want to edit out, so you don’t risk the possibility of smoothing too much out and removing pores, freckles, or any other natural details that sometimes get removed due to “over-editing.”

The following video shows what is possible and how easy it can be to use the Wavelet Decompose plugin:

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