Tutorial on High End Clean and Natural Beauty Editing

Photography Credit: Hugh O’Malley

We get a lot of requests for high end clean beauty image editing, so we’d love to share with you a bit of our work process.  Let’s face it, “beauty” is such a vague term, some love things very raw and others love it very polished, so understanding the idea of beauty when it comes to image editing means that we need to first have an understanding of the photographer’s motive.  What’s beautiful for YOU? Once we know it, we’ll create it.

Remember that whenever an object or person is photographed, it’s not as perfect as the most perfect camera: your eyes.  So, even if the model might look flawless in real life, a camera with studio lights can enhance detail but it can also enhance blemish. 

High quality beauty photo finishing is about bringing the photo back to how your EYES would see it, as well as a creative interpretation of what that photo is intended to show.

So, without further ado, let’s begin!

This is an unedited beauty shot.

We processed the raw .NEF file via Camera Raw and did some tweaks.

We changed the WB a bit. Pushed shadows a little as well as the exposure. Pulled down some highlights and blacks.

After that we opened the image in Photoshop. we cleaned up of obvious spots and blemishes and stray hairs first. That weird dark shade around her lips in the mirror we fixed also. we also fixed the nails.

Then it’s frequency separation time. This technique we used it to blend the colors without affecting the texture, also we can edit textures without affecting the color. It basically splits and separates the texture and color in two layers. It is more refined skin editing. You can target bad textures and fix it. In the color layer you can brush it to blend it the way you want it.

we also removed here some chicken-looking skin, still through frequency separation. You can go on fixing stuff that you dont like til you think it’s perfect.

Now it’s time to give the image good shaping. You can do this through the Dodge and Burn technique. Basically you just (burn) darken shadow area and (dodge)brighten the highlights to give the image a good contrast. You can dodge and burn in many ways. One technique is make a 50% grey layer and put it into Soft light blending mode. Then you brush with black to burn and white to dodge.

Dodge and Burn is effective when you want to enhance flat looking images like those fingers.
After the retouch and dodge burn we did some adjustments on top. Thru selective color we made the neck a bit reddish to match with the face.
Then we played with the toning thru curves adjustment layer.
Some fine tuning with the selective color, hue saturation and levels adjustment.
We felt like it needs to be brightened up so we added a levels adjustment layer and pushed the highlights more.

Before and After

Total time taken do this was 3 ½ hours. 

So remember, there are no shortcuts for refining skin beauty retouch, there are a lot of steps and it can be done fairly fast, but the more blemishes the skin has, the longer it will take to fix. 

In the end, the look is as if we are looking at this model in real life with gentle light.  Clean, high end beauty retouching from us to you! Hope you like it!

2 thoughts on “Tutorial on High End Clean and Natural Beauty Editing”

  1. Robert Thompson

    Really nice tips, thanks for sharing, much appreciated this effort, Loved it

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