How to Retouch a Fashion Photograph – Photoshop CC Tutorial


Watch the full tutorial: How to Retouch a Fashion Photo

Begin tutorial here:


I have a photo here from a fashion shoot I did for a great client-turned-friend of mine from Philadelphia. If you’re into fashion, you’ve got to check out her stuff. Check out Naveda Couture here. I can’t give you this photo as a download, but I’m working with a Camera RAW image that I’ve opened in Photoshop. If you have a Camera RAW image rather than just a JPEG, it’s much preferred. (You can get MUCH better results when working with Camera RAW rather than JPEG.)

The first thing I want to do is lift her chin a little. It looks like it’s drooping a bit because of the camera angle. Right click on the “Background” layer and choose “Convert to Smart Object”. Then go Filter>Liquify.


The second step will be to set up a frequency separation adjustment (you can download my free action right here if you want to get the frequency separation all set in place for you quickly). I’m going to duplicate my initial layer and right click and choose “Rasterize Layer”. Then duplicate that layer (You should have your Smart Object layer and two copies of it). Name the top layer “Hi” and the lower layer “Lo” just as I have in my screenshot.


Next, click the little eyeball icon to the left of the “Hi” layer to shut it off for the moment. Select the “Lo” layer and go Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. We want to choose a number here that blurs away all the edge detail. I went with 15px. (NOTE: This number will vary depending on the actual size of your image.)

Select the “Hi” layer and turn it back on by selecting the eyeball icon. Go Image>Apply Image. We want to apply this “Hi” layer to the “Lo” layer with a blend mode of “Subtract” and make sure the Scale is set to “2” and Offset is set at “128”. The resulting image will look like a mess. No worries, we’ll fix it in the next step.

Set the “Hi” layer to the blend mode “Linear Light”. All better!

Apply a mask to that layer by going Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All. Click on the layer thumbnail in the layers panel to ensure that you have the gray looking “Hi” layer selected, not the layer mask that we just created.

Grab the Healing Brush tool (J) (NOTE: Not the “Spot Healing Brush”, just the regular one) and look to the control bar at the top of the screen and choose “Current Layer” from the Sample drop down menu.

I’m going to start by zooming in on the image and start finding blemishes that I would like to get rid of. Simply hold your Alt/Opt key to get a sampling target and try to sample very close to the blemish that you’re looking to get rid of because we want to have a similar texture. TIP: I find that a brush slightly larger than the blemish and with a semi-hard edge tends to produce the cleanest results.

Now I’ll look around the image and clean up any other blemishes I find just as I worked with the blemishes on the face.

Next, to add a little more smoothing to the skin we’ll take the Brush tool and use a very soft brush and look to the control bar and set the Opacity of the brush to “10%” and select the layer mask that we put on this “Hi” layer. Set your foreground color to black by pressing the letter “D”. You may be able to see in my screenshot that there is a very little bit of dark, grayish color in that mask in my layers panel.

Next we want to sharpen this a touch to compensate for any minor lost detail because of the subtle blurring we just did. Select the “Hi” layer thumbnail and go Filter>Sharpen>Smart Sharpen. I set the Amount to “120” and the Radius to “0.9”. I would do what looks good at 100% for your image.

Next we’ll setup a simple dodge and burn layer here by creating a new layer (Layer>New>Layer) and name it “D&B”. Go Edit>Fill and choose “50% Gray” from the Contents drop down menu. Hit “OK” to fill that layer.

Set that layer to a blend mode of “Soft Light” This will make all the gray disappear.

Grab the Burn tool (O) (it looks like a hand with fingers pinching slightly) and look to the control bar and set the Range to “Midtones” and the Exposure to “10%”. We can now begin gently “painting” over areas that are already dark to further accentuate them. Right click to easily slide your burning brush larger or smaller to focus on larger areas, or details of clothing and the face. See my before and after.

Next we’ll grab the Dodge tool (O) and we’ll do the same thing. TIP: Use the same settings in the control bar for this tool as well. This time just paint over areas that are brighter and have natural highlights.

To really pump up the effect, hit Cmd/Ctrl + J to duplicate the layer. Reduce the opacity of the duplicated layer until you think it looks good.

Now we’ll begin adjusting color and tonality of the image. I’ve added a Curves adjustment layer and dragged the bottom point up and I also added two additional points and pulled them into a slight “S” curve as I have in the screenshot here.

Next up we’ll drop a Selective Color adjustment layer into the image and I’m going to hit the drop down menu and choose “Whites” first. Here I’ve set Cyan to “-10” and Yellow to “+10”.

Here in the Selective Color dialog box, choose “Neutrals” and set Black to “-5”.

Lastly, choose “Blacks” from the drop down menu and set Cyan and Magenta both to “+3” and then set Yellow to “-3” and Black to “-10”. This will fade the shadows in the image and infuse them with a few drips of blue/purple.

Next we’ll add an Exposure adjustment layer and leave everything at the default, but change the Exposure to “-0.30”.

We’ll add a Curves adjustment layer and create an “S” curve as I have in the screenshot. I pulled up on the very bottom point to lift light into the shadows and also pulled down on the topmost point to dull the highlights a little as well.


Next we need to add a Gradient Map adjustment layer. Select the gradient stripe to edit the gradient and double click the color stop on the bottom left and punch in the color hex number “72627c” and then double click the color stop on the bottom right and punch in the color hex number “a8a690”. Set that adjustment layer to the blend mode “Soft Light” and reduce the opacity to “65%”.


Next let’s add a Channel Mixer adjustment layer and tick on the “Monochrome” box. Set Red to +55%, and Green to +45%, and Blue to +10%. Also set the Opacity of this layer to “15%”.

The last adjustment layer that we need to add is the Hue & Saturation adjustment layer. Choose “Red” from the drop down menu and set the Saturation to “-25” and set the Lightness to “+20”. This will target the skin tones on this girl’s white skin and both partially desaturate it and infuse it with some brightness.

The last part of this process is the add some grain. Create a new layer by going Layer>New>Layer and name the layer “Grain”.

Go Edit>Fill and choose “50% Gray” from the drop down menu. This will fill our layer with a dull, flat gray.

Then go Filter>Noise>Add Noise and set the Amount to “10%” and click on “Uniform” and tick on “Monochromatic”. This will ensure that there is no color added to our grain.

Hit Cmd/Ctrl + J to duplicate the grain layer and hit Cmd/Ctrl + T to free transform the layer. Hold down your Shift and Alt/Opt keys and drag any of the corner anchor handles out to stretch the grain layer quite a bit larger than the original image. I’ve zoomed out here to show you just how far I stretched it. We’re creating larger grain by doing this.

Set both of the grain layers to the blend mode “Soft Light”. This will allow them to interact with the image layer beneath them.

Simply reduce the opacity of each layer until it looks good! I set my larger grain layer to 30% and my smaller, original grain to 50%. Boom!


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