How to Retouch Beauty Portraits Without Going Too Far

Post-processing a portrait image requires not only a good idea of how to use an image editing tool, but also an astute eye for detail. It’s a synergy of a great editing platform and great editing skills. Often, editing mistakes stem from taking retouching a bit too far. In this video, Miguel Quiles demonstrates how to strike the perfect balance when post-processing your portraits:

Portrait Editing Tools

For editing, Quiles uses the MSI GS70 Stealth Pro-607 17.3” Full HD Gaming Notebook, a Wacom PTH451 Intous Pro Pen and Touch tab. His software of choice is Capture One for the basic color adjustment, exposure, and contrast tweaking and Photoshop for the image retouching.

capture one pro for portrait retouching

The initial adjustments were made using Capture One Pro.

Post-Processing Portraits with Capture One

The first step involves adjusting the white balance. Capture One has a bunch of presets. If the presets are to your taste you can use them or select a custom white balance setting to match the look and feel you want.

Next, Quiles bumps up the clarity. Clarity reveals details, but just like anything else, bumping it too much will result in an unnatural appearance.

Retouching Portraits with Photoshop

The final retouching happens in Photoshop. Quiles uses the following settings when exporting the image to Photoshop:

  • Image Format: TIFF
  • 16-bit color
  • Uncompressed
  • ICC Profile: sRGB
  • Resolution: 300 pixels/inch
  • Scale: Fixed (100%)

Upon opening the image, Quiles creates a new Layer Group. This is for cleaning up the skin and hair areas. He uses separate layers for each of these components. Ensure that you have selected Sample All Layers.

skin retouching using photoshop

Removing stray hair and retouching skin blmishes

The next step is color adjustment. Quiles creates another group for this. The first task is to create a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer. The purpose of this layer is to increase the brightness and contrast in the model’s hair, which forms a significant part of the image.

To counter the global effect the brightness and contrast adjustments have on the image. Quiles inverts the layer mask (which has the effect of hiding the brightness / contrast adjustment) and then paints over it with white. He selects a medium sized brush and paints over the model’s hair—the area where he needs this effect.

hair retouching using photoshop

Unretouched (left) vs. Retouched Hair (Right)

The final step is to work on the color adjustment of the background, the model’s eyes, and her lips, using the same techniques that Quiles demonstrated above, plus a few minor changes. Almost all of them involve using a global adjustment and then using a brush tool to edit the changes wherever the effect is not required.

Here’s the final retouched image:

portrait retouching photoshop

Final retouched image

These are simple techniques that add that extra spice to your beauty portraits without making them look too unnatural.

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One Comment

  1. Joe says:

    That was one of the better instructional videos I’ve seen with slow instructions given. Thanks

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