How to Retouch Wrinkles in Photoshop

There are many ways of removing wrinkles in Photoshop, and there are even third party plugins that do the job for you. However, the goal isn’t always complete removal since that can leave your subjects looking like they came out of a cartoon. You can never be perfect, and when you see a picture where everything is perfect, there is one thought that instantly pops into your head: “That’s Photoshopped.” Luckily, Aaron Nace demonstrates a quick and easy way to remove wrinkles that lends itself to realistic results:

Nace presents two ways to go about retouching wrinkles.

wrinkles on skin

Original Photo

 Complete Removal of Wrinkles

The first and most commonly used method is to use the healing brush tool and simply get rid of the wrinkles by painting over them.

But as you can see, if you remove the wrinkles completely, something will be missing from that picture; the photoshopping will be obvious. It’s normal for an older person to have wrinkles, after all.

Wrinkles on skin completely deleted

Wrinkles Removed Completely

Reduction of Wrinkles

Nace recommends this second method for more natural looking portraits. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Duplicate the background layer by hitting Ctrl/Cmd + J.
  2. Make sure you’re working on a layer with pixels.
  3. Select the Clone Stamp tool.
  4. Change the brush mode for the Clone Stamp to Lighten.
  5. Sample an area near a wrinkle and start painting over the wrinkle.
Wrinkles on skin reduced but are still present

Wrinkles Reduced

If you use the clone stamp tool directly on the layer, with the brush set to lighten and sample and paint over the wrinkles, you’re effectively removing the shadow in the wrinkle while keeping most of the texture. It’s an easy technique, since it doesn’t copy the texture like a normal clone stamp brush—it just uses the color. That way you keep some of the wrinkles in order to keep the natural look. This can be used over many other imperfections on the skin.

As you can see, the difference in methods is quite evident.

If you use Nace’s second (and preferred) method to reduce wrinkles rather than remove them, you’ll be much less likely to get the “way too much Photoshop” comments.

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2 responses to “How to Retouch Wrinkles in Photoshop”

  1. PatG says:

    Method # 2 is fabulous! Wonderful tip. Will use this often. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Alan says:

    I am not sure if you’ve covered this before…but here goes. I have not found a suitable explanation for this question.

    Lets say I have PS Elements. I have a frame someone gave me that has a matt opening of 6″ x 8″.
    Hence, I want to produce an image that will print on an 8×10 sheet, that effectively will be sized as 6 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ to ensure the picture fits that 6×8 window. Logically, there will be a large white border around to the actual printed area.

    I am still a bit fuzzy on how to use the transformation and or cropping tool, so that I end up with a 6 1/2″x 8 1/2″ image on an 8×10 standard sheet.

    Thanks in advance.

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