Make Over

Not that my daughter needs a make over, the image does.

Having better and better digital cameras means you can record more and more data, but when you’re taking portraits, no matter how informal, even the slightest skin blemish becomes noticeable. 

So the purpose of this tutorial is to show you how you can tone those flaws down.

In a video tutorial on this site Photoshop users are privileged to see a method initially concocted by Ashley Ridell.

I’m a Paint Shop Pro devotee, so why should Photoshop users have all of the fun and help; here’s my take on that make over process adapted for Paint Shop Pro X4 users.  Since the software works in a different way, some of the steps are slightly different and longer.

Note - this tutorial will not work with Paint Shop Pro versions prior to X4.  In section three (Building a new image), the tutorial uses features that are unique to version X4.

The main steps involve ...
  • Making a mask
  • Finding channel with the minimum noticeable blemishes
  • Building a new image
  • Smoothing the skin tones
  • Sharpening only those bits that you want


Paint Shop Pro can be greedy for memory, so two little tricks may be necessary ...

  1. Turn off, close and don’t use any other software other than Paint Shop Pro whilst you’re using this process.  We’ll be making a multi-layered image stack and that gobbles memory

  2. When you’ve opened the image, you can ease the stress by processing in RGB 8bit.  You do that by Image > Decrease Color Depth > RGB 8 bit.  The only down-side to this step, is that very large expanses of monotone eg when filling the frame with skin tone, you can lose some of the minor tones and fluctuations that make the image more interesting.  So you’ve to weigh up smoothing against losing a few tones.

You may also need to remove major blemishes before you start, using the Clone Brush.

Step One
Making A Mask

Open the image.

make over original

Choose Layers > New Mask Layer > From Image.  This mask will be used later in the process  in  Step 3

make over mask

To make that possible we’ll save the make over mask for later use ...

Layers > Load/Save To Disk > Save Mask To Disk.  You’ll be asked for a file name.  Either give it the name belonging to the subject, or something like mask_DSC1224 so that you can find it amongst the masks.  I have many masks on my system.

This mask contains the overall luminance (brightness) values of the image.

Close the image and do not save any changes to the image if so requested.

Step Two

In this step we'll find the channel with the least number of noticeable blemishes.

Open image again so that you can start the make over process proper.

As in all good practice, make a copy of your background layer before you do anything else.  So if the process goes wrong, you still have your original image to which you can return.

Layers > Duplicate

We need to split the image into its component channels.

Image >Split Channel>Split To RGB

make over channels

The three channels corresponding to the Red, Green and Blue values will be displayed.

Look at each of these three channel images carefully.  Each will be a useable, fairly good Black and White image in its own right.  But one will just have the “edge” over the others in your eyes.

For most occasions this will be the Red Channel image.  If the colour image is re-built from the components, red is added to the final image where there is most white and least black.  Since Caucasian skin contains much red colouring, the Red Channel will appear the whitest and least marked.  We can use the values from this channel later.

Select the Red channel if that’s the one that gives the best image appearance.

Step Three
Building A New Image

The values in the single channel are now used to control the image (probably the Red Channel value).

Edit > Copy Red Channel image
Edit > Paste As New Layer as a new top layer
Change blend mode to Luminance

The image has the brightness values now applied from the single channel.

Select the uppermost layer.

make over before mask

You need to access the mask you made earlier.

Layers > Load/Save To Disk > Load Mask From Disk

Select all layers by holding CTRL and clicking each one in turn to highlight them.  Then whilst the layers are selected ...

Edit > Copy Special > Copy Merged
Edit > Paste As New Layer

The result is a composite layer containing all of the changes you’ve made so far.

Step Four
Smoothing The Skin Tones

The image so far probably looks good.  But a little more magic has yet to be applied to our make over project.  In this section the weirdest of filters produces the smoothest of skin tones.

Select top layer

Find a Gaussian blur value which give the correct feel to the face by Adjust > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

Remember the value and cancel the filter box

Now turn to Effects > Edge Effects > High Pass and insert the value you got from the Blur filter box

Then Adjust > Blur > Gaussian Blur and insert one-third of the value from the Blur filter box

So if in the first visit to the Blur filter box you thought that 12 pixels blurring looked good
In the High Pass filter you’d choose 12 pixels ...


In the second and final visit to the Blur filter you’d choose 12 √∑ 3 which equals 4 pixels
Layers > Invert Mask/Adjustment.

To apply the make-over to the entire image.

Change blend mode to Overlay

The skin tones now look great but the eyes, lips and hair lack the sharpness that draw your eye to them.  We put that right in the next step.

Step Five    
Sharpening Only The Bits You Wan t

Select the uppermost layer.  We now add a mask above it which shows this layer in its entirety.

What we then need to do is to “punch holes” in this mask to reveal the layer below it; it is that layer which contains the unsmoothed image with the details intact.  The mask is made by
Layers > New Mask Layer > Show All.

make over before sharpening

To punch the holes through it, simply select paint brush, grab your Wacom pen and use BLACK paint to punch a hole in the WHITE mask to reveal the bits you want sharp

make over end

Apart from the finishing touches, there you have a nice make over using Paint Shop Pro X4.

Make Over
Page Links


Step One - Making A Mask

Step Two - Channels

Step Three - Building A New Image

Step Four - Smoothing Skin Tones

Step Five - Sharpening

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 Terry from Make Over
Copyright© 2009-2012.