4 Tips for Retouching Portraits

Last updated on: 2018


Retouching is a necessary step in the production process, especially in the beauty industry. The key to successfully retouching portraits is knowing when to stop; it’s easy to get carried away by removing every imperfection.

Learn how to transform your model imagery from basic to badass with these subtle yet effective retouching hacks.


When it comes to skin retouching, the Patch Tool is your friend! Start with a new layer and patch out major blemishes at 100%. The trick for smoothing out skin is only getting rid of temporary blemishes such as pimples or makeup imperfections. Leaving unique traits like scars and freckles preserves the integrity of the portrait and prevents the overall skin texture from becoming too plastic-y. Once the main blemishes are removed, create another layer and patch away shine and texture inconsistencies at 50%. This final step polishes the skin while still leaving a subtle amount of original texture.



Edit eyes in a wink! Using the Dodge Tool and a fresh layer, set your range to “highlights” and your exposure to 10% to paint a hint of light on the irises. (If the eyes become too bright, you can decrease the opacity of the layer to tone down the edit.) You can also use the Sponge Tool in “saturate” mode at 10% to emphasize the iris color even more. Lastly, use the Burn Tool with the range set to “shadows” and the exposure at 10% to gradually darken eyelashes and eyebrows. This simple trick enhances makeup and takes your portrait to the next level.



Remove pesky flyaways with the Clone Stamp tool. Start with a new layer and sample the background near the flyaways by option-clicking (alt-click for PC). Using a softer brush, paint the unnecessary hairs away. Additional patching at 50% on a new layer may be required to ensure a seamless background.



Using the Lasso Tool, select the teeth. Create a Selective Color adjustment layer and change your colors to “White.” Drag the yellow slider to the left until teeth are pearly white. Swipe the teeth with the Dodge Tool set to “Highlights” at 10% as the finishing touch.


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Shireen is a photographer at Taylor & Pond. On the weekends you can find her scoring deals at TJ Maxx or eating rainbow rolls at the local sushi bar. To see more of Shireen's work, visit