Digital Makeover

This is a superb digital makeover method to create that freshly "made-up" look and is based on techniques from Ashley Riddell.

This is really a two part procedure - the first part reduces general flaws and blemishes and the second part adds a really nice glow to the skin.

This Digital Makeover technique may be a tad challenging if you are a new Photoshop user.

You will be using Layers and Channels and and flipping back and forth and copying and pasting and all sorts of neat stuff.

Oh, what the heck - give the digital makeover tutorial a shot! You learn by doing, right?

Let's get to it ...It can be a challenge and it is generally a lot of fun with the added benefit being that the person you are 'glamorizing' generally appreciates your diligent efforts.

This is a two part technique - the first part eliminates any flaws and the second applies the "digital makeup".  The second part is where your Wacom Bamboo or Wacom Intuos will be very useful.

So let's get on with reducing the general flaws ...

Digital Makeover Step One - Skin Cleaning

This is the picture we will be working with.  It's not too bad but will benefit from some TLC ...

digital makeover original

To see the end result of these techniques - click here.

The first step is to clean up the skin. This will be done with the Clone Tool (if necessary) and the RGB Channels.

  1. Open your image and duplicate the background.  It may be useful to make sure the History Palette (Windows > History) is open as well so you can compare your work to the original as you work.

  2. If there are any glaring blemishes or hot spots you may want to get rid of them with the Clone Tool or Patch Tool or Healing Brush.  It may also be necessary to do some color correction if that is an issue.  With this shot it was necessary to eliminate some of the red on the skin.

  3. Open the Channels Palette (Windows > Channels) and look at each channel in turn (red, green and blue).  Check each channel closely to find the one with the least blemishes and noise.  Here are the three Channels from this image ...

  4. digital makeover red channel
    Red Channel
    digital makeover green channel
    Green Channel
    digital makeover blue channel
    Blue Channel

    With this image the choice is easy, isn't it?   The Channel Palette is really cool!

  5. Now - with the Red Channel highlighted

    • Select All (Ctrl-A or Cmd-A) and
    • Copy (Ctrl-C or Cmd-C).

  6. OK - now for some jumping about in the Channels and Layers Palettes:

    • Highlight the RGB Channel at the top of the Channels stack and then ...

    • go back to the Layers Palette and Paste (Ctrl-V or Cmd-V) which puts the monochrome Red Channel on its own layer, now ...

    • change the Layers Blending Mode to Luminosity and now you have the color back. 

    • Neat, huh?

    • return to the Channels Palette

    • make sure that RGB is highlighted and Ctrl/Cmd click which selects the Luminosity values, now ...

    • return to the Layers palette, select the new layer you created and click the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers Palette which will put the Luminosity selection into the Layer Mask.

  7. Now you can modify your picture by either/or adjusting the Levels (Ctrl-L or CMD-L) and change the Opacity of the makeover skin smoothing

At this point you may be quite satisfied with the the initial digital makeover results - or perhaps not ...

This is an improvement but it looks kind of pasty, right?.

The second part of the procedure is to apply some foundation makeup to the skin.

This will smooth out the skin even more and it will not create that 'false look' one so often sees in models.  

This is, after all, an attractive young gal - a real person and the goal is to make her look the best she can without resorting to  things like the surface blur found in CS3.

Now lets get to the second half of the digital makeover ...

Digital Makeover Step Two - Applying Digital Makeup

This part starts off where the previous steps ended and we will build on what we already have.

Let's do it ...

  1. Create a new layer above the layers you already have.  Ctr-A or CMD-A to select all of the layers and then Edit > Copy Merged and finally (with your new layer highlighted) Ctrl-V ordigital makeover layers CMD-V.

  2. Now we are going to run a couple of filters on the image - Gaussian Blur and High Pass.  With the newest layer selected, select Blur > Gaussian Blur and mess about with the slider until the skin is nice a smooth.  Make a mental note of the radius in pixels that you like the best.  Now Cancel Gaussian Blur and keep the number in mind.

  3. Now select Filter > Other > High Pass ... and enter the number you have faithfully stored in you head from the previous step in the Radius Pixels box.  Click OK.  Looks weird, doesn't it?

  4. Go back to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and enter 1/3 of the number you are remembering into the Radius Pixels box and click OK and then invert the image - Ctrl-I or CMD-I or Image > Adjustments > Invert.  Still looks weird ...

  5. Now is the time to return our picture to some kind of normal look and we do that with Digital makeover overlayBlending Modes.  Drop down the Blending Modes box and select Overlay and there you go - the picture now looks even better than before!  You can experiment with the Soft Light Blending Mode as well.  It is up to you which one you choose because they both work and both provide a slightly different result.

  6. Add a Layer Mask to the layer so that you can apply the smoothing to only those parts of the image that need it.  You can either fill the Layer mask with Black (Edit > Fill > Black) and paint in the effect with white or fill the Layer Mask with White (Edit > Fill > White) and remove the effect where it is not wanted by painting with black.  It's up to you how you do it.  

  7. This is where you get to use your Wacom Bamboo or Intuos graphics tablet for precise and easy painting.  It is probably best to have the brush dynamics set to size (changing stroke size withdigital makeover layer mask pressure) or nothing at all.

  8. If you want to see how the Layer Mask looks up close then just Alt-Click or Cmd-Click on it.  To return to the normal vies just select the layer again and activate the layer mask.

  9. There are some areas you probably don't want to soften too much - eyes, eyebrows and lashes and lips.

  10. Once the effect has been applied you can further refine it by messing with the top layer's opacity and/or fiddling around with Levels.

  11. That's it - you are done with your digital makeover and you should be darn proud of your work.
Here is the finished image ...

digital makeover finished

(Return to Step One ...)

This is a nice improvement, isn't it?  Give the digital makeover a try - after you watch the video ...


Digital Makeover Video

Digital Makeover 
Page Links

Skin Cleaning

Applying Digital Makeup


left col image

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