Before And After Photoshop Portrait Retouching

In this tutorial I will show you how to use different filters in photoshop to smooth out skin and leave it looking natural, while giving you complete control.

There are many techniques to smooth skin in photoshop, you can even buy software such as Portraiture, but the technique I’m about to show you is the method I prefer most.  The technique for smoothing skin allows for more control, and leaves the skin looking editorial, without making your subject looking to overdone.

Here is an before and after example of the picture we will be working with.

1. Duplicate the original layer in Photoshop

Start by opening your image in photoshop and Duplicate the original layer.  Duplicating the original layer is very important, without this step the rest of the process will not work.

Duplicate Layer In Photoshop
I recommend that you rename the New layer so that you will know which layer you used to soften the skin.

Rename Layer In Photoshop

2. Blur blemishes and pores

Once you have your new layer, go into your filters menu -> Blur -> Surface Blur

Set your settings similar to what I have below, you want your skin to look almost like plastic, and make sure the blemishes and pores are gone.

Surface Blur Settings In Photoshop To Smooth Skin
Next go bank to filters -> Noise -> Add Noise

Adding Noise In Photoshop


Next you want to adjust your settings, the goal is to have enough noise back in your picture to add a little bit of texture.

Make sure “Uniform” is selected… Set your amount to the same as I have below.

Noise Settings In Photoshop
Again, go to filters -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur

Add Gaussian Blur To Smooth Skin
Adjust you settings to match what I have below.  You want to still see the noise you added, but have it look more like smoothed out pores.

Gaussian Blur Settings To Smooth Skin

3. Add a mask layer for natural skin

The next step is very important to remember, you’re going to add a mask layer.

Make sure you press “alt”, or “option” on a mac, while you choose the mask layer.  This makes it black and reverts your image to its original, while the image with all of your adjustments is under the mask.

Add Layer Mask On Portrait Retouching
The trick to making this look as natural as possible is to use a soft edge brush..Make sure white is selected in your colors..

Avoid all edges of the face, including right at the edge of the eyes mouth and nose, and right before the hairline.

Add Photoshop Effect Soft Edge Brush
Notice where the mask is can click on the image below to get a better view.

Mask Removal In Photoshop

4. Adjust opacity to get the smoothing you want

The final step is to adjust the opacity up and down until the smoothing looks just how you want it. Usually between 40% and 70% is ideal.Adjust Skin Smoothing By Changing Opacity


And once again you have your final image.


After skin smoothed in Photoshop


I hope you find this tutorial useful, please come back for more helpful tutorials and tips coming soon.


View video version of this tutorial Video Tutorial How to Smooth Skin in Photoshop.


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  • Simply put , this is called the Cost of Doing Business (CODB) and the best CODB calculator for photographers can be found at (The National Press Photographers Association). Her is the link:
    IF it doesn’t work, just go to and put calculator into the search box.

    Then join and organization that “has your back” –,, PPA, etc