Beauty trends are constantly changing, with trends now leaning more towards natural features. But when it comes to commercial and fashion photography, some level of beauty photo retouching is necessary to highlight a model’s best features and minimize the blemishes that take away the focus from the overall aesthetic. Every good photographer takes great lengths to make all our models look fantastic. From getting the perfect lighting that can show off the details and contours of our models, to having the perfect props and background, creating the perfect set-up is a must. But is it enough?
There are some limits to minimizing flaws and blemishes during production, which is why the right beauty photo retouching techniques are necessary to get the best image. Following our clients’ shoots, we at Paper Boat Creative provide skillfully precise photo touch-up services that can enhance a model’s natural beauty. Here are some of the beauty image retouching tips we can recommend to other editors looking to try their hand at bringing out the natural beauty of their models.
How Do You Retouch a Beauty Picture?
The point of beauty photo retouching is not to completely change a model’s appearance, but to highlight a model’s best features while minimizing flaws that can take the focus away from what viewers should be focusing on. Whether the model’s photo is for editorial, commercial, or personal purposes, you’ll want your retouches to be as natural as possible.
This means avoiding things like reshaping their natural features, enlarging their eyes, and creating a smooth complexion that comes off as overly edited and unnatural. Instead, beauty photo retouching techniques that work involve improving the overall appearance of the image without subjecting the model’s natural features to edits to meet certain beauty standards.
With that in mind, here are the no-fail steps that we swear by:
1. Enhance Image Brightness
Lighting is essential to capturing the details of any subject – be it a model, product, or any object you’d like to photograph. When it comes to beauty photography, having the right amount of brightness can give the appearance of radiant-looking skin. Too little brightness and there could be shadows in certain areas that highlight flaws like under-eye bags, tear troughs, fine lines, dark spots, and other features. Too much, and your model could look unnaturally pale and washed out.
Prior to retouching, your photoshoot should ideally have a good lighting setup using the right type of light (white light, natural light, warm light, etc.) that best suits your model’s skin tone. From there, you can retouch the image accordingly to change the brightness in certain areas.
To play around with your image’s brightness, access the Camera Raw filter via your Photoshop program and enhance the Image Brightness. Tweak it until the details and colors within your image are sufficiently illuminated without looking washed out
2. Retouch the Skin
One important thing to remember in beauty photo retouching is knowing how far you should retouch the skin. Get that airbrushed finish by smoothing out all skin blemishes and imperfections, but avoid blurring out all skin textures entirely. This can give your model an unrealistic edited appearance.
To retouch your model’s skin, use the Healing Brush Tools and Delicious Retouch v4 Photoshop Extension. Use the Spot Healing Brush tool to brush over and remove any blemishes and imperfections that need to be removed from the skin and the overall image. Watch out for pilled foundation or makeup smudges, which are likely present especially with a long shoot.
Click on the Delicious Skin v4 extension button to utilize the smoothing effect that you need for a high-end beauty or fashion shoot. Take care to brush over the skin lightly and carefully so that the effect will be isolated on the skin and render a natural-looking finish. The Overall image after skin retouching should look like this:
If you’re skilled at manually editing your image settings, you can also try a popular skin retouching method called dodge & burn. This is a popular method used by high-end editors, though it can be a bit time-consuming. Using this method, we can enhance the highlights and shadows to produce these results:
3. Don’t Forget to Retouch the Hair
Flyaway hair and unruly strands can be distracting, so it’s important to catch all the unruly hair. Beginners often make the mistake of using the paintbrush or lasso tool to hide or get rid of flyaway hairs. The problem with this is that it can cause subtle issues with the shape and direction of any remaining hair on the photo, which can make it obvious that some retouching was done to fix the model’s hair. You’ll want your models to look as natural as possible, so the best way to deal with unruly hair is to use the Clone Stamp tool.
Clone Stamp can be used in Normal, Darken, and Lighten modes. Darken mode is best for lighter strands standing out against darker hair, and vice versa. For other types of body hair, use the healing brush tool instead. Whether you want to fix awkward body hair or remove body hair completely, the healing brush tool can provide a more natural appearance in comparison to the rest of the model’s hair.
4. Watch the Eyes
You might be tempted to make heavy edits and retouches to the eye area, but it’s important to have a light hand when making your retouches. Too much retouching can cause the eye to look unnatural, which can remove the character and affect the overall expression on your model’s face.
Depending on your model and the type of shoot they’re in, it’s best to only retouch makeup creases and distracting or unwanted fine lines by carefully using healing tools. Any more than that, and you could end up with crease-free lines that look unrealistic and, although flawless, can look unnatural on the model’s overall appearance.
When shooting fashion and makeup photography, most of the model’s intensity is conveyed by a powerful gaze. Frame those peepers by enhancing the model’s eyes with the Enhance module on the Delicious Retouch v4 extension menu.
Create separate folders for lightening (Dodge) and darkening (Burn), and lightly brush over the areas where you need to enhance. This allows the viewer to better appreciate the eye makeup and the intensity of the model’s expression or gaze. The resulting adjustment will convey more detail of the iris, and a purer white to the sclera (the white part of the eyeball). Again, avoid overgoing any retouches to the eyes as they can look saturated and look more like a doll’s unnaturally perfect eyes than a real pair.
5. Get the Colors Right
Color grading is a necessary adjustment, especially when it comes to fashion, commercial, and editorial photography. When it comes to your model, discolored photos can create unnecessary shadows and dark areas that can highlight natural flows or hide away their best features. Create necessary adjustments by playing around with your image’s hue, saturation, and color balance before merging all the adjustment layers. Add a High Pass Filter to sharpen your image and set the layer blending mode to Overlay.
Pro-tip for organizing your layers and keeping better track of your retouching project: Be sure to group all adjustment layers into a single folder named ‘Adjustments’ for easy tweaking and navigation. The final output should look something like this:
Bring Out the Natural Glow of Your Models with Effective Beauty Photo Retouching Techniques
We hope that this short guide on how we conduct our beauty photo retouching will be helpful for your own shots and provide you with the tips to effectively enhance the natural beauty of your model. If you are in doubt about the process or simply prefer to be behind the lens instead of enhancing the photos, send your shots our way so we can bring the best out of your vision with our world-class image manipulation services!