HOW TO RETOUCH Pt. 10: Benefits of Destructive Editing

This is part 10 of the 12-part retouching series I’ve been working on and today I want to make a tutorial about a simple, but often overlooked step in a non-destructive image retouch: a DESTRUCTIVE Layer! We’ll create a “catch-all” layer and talk about healing away and little bits and pieces that we notice this deep into the retouching process. It’s simple but essential!

See All 12 Parts!

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Part 1: Camera RAW Processing

Part 2: How to Liquify & Pushing Pixels

Part 3: How to Retouch the Skin

Part 4: How to Retouch Eyes, Lips, & Eyebrows

Part 5: How to Retouch Hair

Part 6: Dodging and Burning the Photo

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Part 7: How to Get Moody Contrast & Tone

Part 8: How to Color Grade the Photo

Part 9: How to Sharpen the Photo

Part 10: The Benefits of Destructive Editing

Part 11: Create Lens Flare and Digital Lighting

Part 12: Tone Smoothing Grain and Finishing

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1. Creating the Healing “Catch-All” Layer

how-to-retouch-photos-catch-all-photoshop-01

After most of your retouching has been finished and the colors and tones are right about where you want them to be, it’s time to create a “catch-all” layer which we will use to correct any small imperfections that we find in our image. Simply create a new layer above all of your existing layers and name this layer “Catch-All”.

2. Take Notes!

how-to-retouch-photos-catch-all-photoshop-02

I like to create a second blank layer right about that layer and name this layer “Notes”. I grab my Brush tool (B) and go around my image zoomed in to 100% (or more) and circle any little blemishes with a brush/color that I will easily be able to see.

3. Getting Rid of Sensor Spots

how-to-retouch-photos-catch-all-photoshop-03

Go back to the “Catch-All” layer and grab the Healing Brush tool (J) and set this tool to the “Replace” mode using the drop down on the left side of the control bar at the top of the screen. Look to the right side of the control bar and choose to sample from “Current and Below” and hold down the Alt/Opt key and sample areas of the sky or background that would cover the camera sensor spots and then paint over those sensor spots. TIP: I’ve noticed that medium/large, hard-edged brushes tend to work the best.

4. Touching Up Skin One Last Time

how-to-retouch-photos-catch-all-photoshop-04

Still on my “Catch-All” layer, I want to set my Healing Brush tool (J) back to the “Normal” mode and now go and sample around blemishes on the skin and heal them as well. NOTE: The Healing Brush will copy texture when you’re healing so make sure that you sample an area that has similar texture to the areas that you’re looking to heal.

Of course, to see the entire process and exactly what I did in this tutorial, make sure you watch the full tutorial located up at the top of this post.

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