Digital Airbrushing
With Paint Shop Pro

Site Search

Digital Airbrushing
with Paint Shop Pro is a different animal from the makeover tools. The Makeover tools are pretty much automated with some adjustment for the strength of the tools.

For those of you who want to dig into a project and make all of the decisions then the digital Airbrushing technique is for you.

This tutorial is adapted from a Photoshop technique so what that means is this - pretty much anything you can do with Photoshop you can also do with PSP (for a lot less money).

So here you are with your nice new Nikon D40 or Canon Digital Rebel and you have some face shots that need a bit of work.

Here's an effective way to do some nice Paint Shop digital airbrushing.  Your subject (wife, girlfriend, whomever) will be thrilled!

This is a nice 4 step process that will result in a really nice end product.

This is the image that will be used in this tutorial.  

Its a nice big image so grab yourself a copy if you want to work along with the tutorial (Right Click > Copy Image (Firefox) or Copy (Internet Explorer), open Paint Shop Pro and then Edit > Paste As New Image.

psp airbrush original

So - open you image, duplicate the background image (you are going to really, really want the duplcate image later - trust me on this) and now its time to start Digital  Airbrushing ...!

Step 1 - Remove Obvious Blemishes

I said no Makeover tools were going to be used in this digital airbrushing tutorial - well I was wrong.

psp airbrush eye

In this closeup of the left eye we can see some things that could be removed.  This person obviously plucks her eyebrows and the little stubbies of missing eyebrow can be seen - not nice.

The Blemish Remover is the easiest and fastest tool to remove those unwanted stubbies - so thats what I used.  If you are a do-it-yourself purist then you can achieve the same results with the Clone Tool.

psp airbrush stubbies removed

The Blemish Remover did a fabulous job, don't you think?

This is an immediate improvement, however we can still do more.

Step 2 - Eliminate Little Specks and Lines

The next thing is to do is remove any little speckles or  lines.  This can be accomplished in a number of ways.  

Select Adjust > Add/Remove Noise. There are a lot of options there (as you can see) and it is best to try out the different ones to find the one that produces the best results with your image.

psp airbrush lines removed

I chose Median Filter with a filter aperture of 5.

At this point the image has had blemishes removed and any little lines and speckles have been eliminated.

There is a problem, however.  If you compare the eyes (this one to the previous one) you will easily see that some of the important spectral highlights in the eye have been removed and the eyelashes and eyebrows now look kind of fuzzy and these are not really a good thing, are they?

Fear not - we will fix them later.

Now we need to soften the image with a ...

Step 3- Gaussian Blur and Noise

This is a nice easy step that takes no time at all.

Add a Gaussian Blur to the whole image.  Experiment with the radius to get the results you want.  My image has a Gaussian Blur radius of 4.0.

OK - so now add a wee bit of noise to add some texture to the image. Use with the filter you used earlier - Adjust > Add/Remove Noise.  I selected
  • Gaussian
  • Monochrome
  • at a value of 4.0.74

paintshop airbrush gaussian Gaussian Blur
paintshop airbrush noise Noise - Median Filter

And this is how the image looks after the Gaussian Blur and Median Noise Filter.


OK - so now we have a noisy blurry picture.  Now here comes the fun part.

Step 4 - Bring Back Areas That Need Bringing Back
(like eyes and hair and lips)

So far we have managed to take a reasonably good image and eliminate things that needed eliminating as well as things we want to keep (like the spectral highlights in the eyes).  

Our digital airbrushing Paint Shop style is coming along nicely.

Additionally, the important parts of the image (like the eyes) are now soft and blurry and something needs to be done to return them to their previous glory.

Mask Layers

These layers are very useful and tend to strike fear into the heart of most beginning Paint Shop Pro users.

Mask Layers act something like a stencil - they can be used to reveal or conceal what is beneath them in the layer stack.

These are the Mask Layers options...

paintshop airbrush mask layers

Hide All - hides whatever adjustments you have done allowing you to paint the adjustments back in.

Show All - keeps all of the adjustments you have done so you can paint out the adjustments where you want.

Sounds confusing?  Yes it does - but using them will help clear up the confusion.

Here is the working image to this point (with both eyes) ...

painshop airbrush premask

In this situation I prefer to keep the adjustments made to this point, that is ...

  • Blemish Remover.
  • Remove Lines and Specks.
  • Gaussian Blur.
  • Add Noise.

Rather than paint them back in and that will be done with a Show All Mask Layer.

Here's how ...

Layers > New Mask Layer > Show All - and this is how the Layers Palette looks ...

paintshop airbrush palette

As you can see the Mask is white so to reveal what is under the mask you need to paint with black.

With this image the eyes, eyebrows and hair need to be returned to their previous glory so that is where the painting was done.  This is where a Wacom Tablet really shows its worth.

The eyelashes are really quite fine and they need to be treated individually - yes - each little eyebrow.  A Wacom Bamboo or Intuos and a lot of zoom makes digital airbrushing with Paint Shop Pro so much easier and accurate.

This is the image after some close painting work around the eyes, eyelashes and hair.

airbrush end

There you have a Paint Shop  Digital Airbrushing - and - the finished product.  It is, I guess, an improvement on the original.

I say I guess because we always have to remember that no one is perfect - not even the models we see in advertising.


Digital Airbrushing
with Paint Shop Pro

On Page Links

Remove Obvious Blemishes

Eliminate Specks and Lines

Gaussian Blur and Noise

Sharpen Hair, Eyes and LIps


A Really, Really
Brief History of

First Airbrush
The First Airbrush

The first airbrush was patented in 1876 (Patent Number 182,389) by Francis Edgar Stanley of Newton, Massachusetts.

Stanley and his twin brother invented a process for continuously coating photographic plates (Stanley Dry Plate Company) but are perhaps best known for their automobile, the Stanley Steamer.

(Source:  Wikipedia)

Thus endeth the History Lesson

Real World
Airbrush Uses

  • Art and Illustration
  • Photo Retouching
  • Coating Firearms
  • Murals
  • Hobby
  • Makeup Application
  • Temporary Tattoos
  • Tanning
  • Fingernail Art
  • Clothing
  • Automobile/Motorcycle Art
  • Street Artists
The term "airbrushed out" has come to mean that history has been altered by removing someone or something from an image.

Site Build It!

Enjoy This Site?
Then why not use the button below, to add us to your favorite bookmarking service?

Return to top

Site build It!

Use the Contact Form to ask questions, provide feedback or comments.

Questions are good - so are comments - or requests!

Return To Paint Shop Pro Tutorials from Digital Airbrushing
Copyright© 2009-2013.