When you use this
Photoshop Elements smooth skin technique in
conjunction with the portrait category of the Smart Brush tool you can
create some fabulous results.
The Portrait category includes seven different adjustments that do a
great job on their own. The adjustments include ...
Lighten Skin Tones
Very Pearly Whites
How to use the Smart Brush Tool is fully explained in this tutorial - right here
- if you're familiar with the Smart Brush then we can move on to the
addition of smooth skin to your portraits.
Here is the image we are
going to use for this tutorial. It was downloaded from Stock
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the image as it is, however it's
easy to add a glamor look using the portrait tools and the smooth
Before you start make a copy of the original image by dragging the
Background to the new layer icon at the bottom of the layers
palette. Now do the portrait adjustments on the Background Copy.
I used three of the portrait effects with the Detail Smart Brush Tool
Details (eyes and hair)
to arrive at this result ...
This version seems to have a bit more pop than the original, don't you
The smooth skin technique uses the Surface Blur filter.
This is what Elements has to say about this filter ...
The Surface Blur filter blurs an image while preserving
edges. This filter is useful for creating special effects and for
removing noise and graininess.
Surface Blur Dialogue
The filter is found in Filter >
Blur > Surface Blur and this is the dialogue.
The adjustments are the Radius and the Threshold. This is what
the Help file says about the two adjustments ...
The Radius option specifies the size of the area
sampled for the blur.
The Threshold option controls how much the tonal values
of neighboring pixels must diverge from the center pixel value before
becoming a part of the blur. Pixels with tonal value differences less
than the Threshold value are excluded from the blur.
Probably the best thing to do is mess with the sliders (start with
Radius) until you get something you like.
To see the effect of the settings you can turn the Preview off and on
or move your pointer over the preview in the dialogue. The
pointer will turn into the hand tool - tap your pen (or left click) to
switch between the original and the adjusted (smooth skin) view.
What you'll notice is that the stronger the Blur the more it will
remove small details - things like hair strands, eye lashes, jewelry,
blemishes, skin creases and other small, fine features. In some cases
that is what you want while in others eliminating the fine features is
not such a great thing.
When you're happy with the result click OK to accept the settings.
The first thing you notice is that not only is the skin smoothed out,
everything is smoothed out and that's not what we want - bet you
thought your eyes were suddenly out of focus
A Layer Mask
Here's the layers palette after doing the three portrait
adjustments, doing the Surface Blur on the Background copy and
then adding a layer mask by clicking on the little Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom
of the Layers Palette (outlined in red).
With the Layer Mask white (like it is here) the Surface Blur adjustment
will still be visible so we need to fill the Layer Mask with Black.
To invert the Layer Mask type Ctrl-I/Cmd-I - now the image no longer
shows the Surface Blur Adjustment.
Select the Brush Tool, make White the Foreground Color and set the
Brush Tablet Options to change Opacity with pressure on your Wacom pen.
On The Mask
Now zoom in tight on the face and start painting the Surface Blur back
in where you want it. Be careful around the eyes, eyebrows, lips and
any other detail that should not be blurred. Zoom in and out to get an
overall impression of the progression of your smooth skin technique.
is the Layer Mask after painting with white. It's kind of
unsightly but it sure does make a difference
You can look at your layer mask on its own by pressing and holding the
Alt key and then tap your pen (or left click) on the Layer Mask.
To get back to the normal view do the same thing again - press and hold
the Alt key and tap your pen on the Mask.
You can see where I was careful around the lips, the eyes, eyebrows,
the small strand of hair on her forehead and around the necklace.
If you make a mistake switch your foreground color to black and paint
out the mistake and then go back to white and continue working.
When you figure your done zoom out and be critical of your work.
If you feel the blur is too severe then start lowering the opacity of
the Background copy layer. As the opacity of the Background copy
layer becomes less then more of the Background (original) layer will
Before and After
When you want to quickly compare before and after and you've got
multiple layers here's how to run off all of the layers except the
Put the pointer over the eyeball on the left of the Background layer,
press the Alt key and click the eyeball.
This will turn off all of the layers except the Background. To
quickly get all of the layers back on just do the same thing again.
All that's left to do is try out the smooth skin technique for
yourself. As you can see it's very effective.