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In this tutorial, I will show you 5 very simple, however very important techniques for Photoshop beginners when it comes to photo retouch. You will discover how easy it is to add more contrast and depths to the image to make it look better. This tutorial is really simple but effective, Have a try!

We will take a random image and apply those 5 techniques to enhance the overall effect of the photo. Here is a summary of the five topics we will cover in this tutorial:

  1. Remove Black Spots with Spot Healing Brush
  2. Make Your Eyes Look More Obvious
  3. Use Surface Blur to Smooth Skin, instead of Gaussian Blur
  4. Make Her Lips Look Even More Delicious
  5. Add Colour Depth and Lighting Contrast to Hair

This is a before and after preview of the final result:

Before

Self 16  by The1stGrape stock 413x700 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

After

basic photo retouch flatten 413x700 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Ok Let’s get started!

In this tutorial, I use the following stock for demonstration purpose – Self 16. by ~The1stGrape-stock

The reason I chose this particular image is that it doesn’t look too bad from the beginning, however there are still things can be improved, perfect for beginners to get some practices on.

Remove Black Spots with Spot Healing Brush

Firstly if we take a look at the photo, we can see there are several black dots on her skin, as shown below:

1 imperfection 500x380 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

1 imperfection2 500x327 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

To fix these, we can use the Spot Healing Brush tool, as shown below in the toolbox:

1 spot healing 500x253 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Simply grab the Spot Healing Brush, adjust the size of the brush to be slightly large than the black spot, and do a single-click on it:

1 spot healing 1 500x370 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

You can see after the single-click, the black spot disappers:

1 after spot healing 500x296 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Basically, what happen is that with the Spot Healing Brush tool, it takes samples of the surrounding skin colour pixels and use them to replace the black spot colour pixel. Magical, isn’t it?

Let’s use the same method to remove all black spots on her face, here is the effect so far:

1 effect 412x700 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Make Your Eyes Look More Obvious

Now let’s pay attention to her eyes, which are beautiful even without any retouching :) but, we can give them a bit more depth, here is how:

Duplicate the background layer once, set the blending mode as “Soft Light” for the duplicated layer, you will have the following effect:

2 duplicate 410x700 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

You can see by doing so we in fact darken the whole image. However here we only want to add depth the eyes, so we need to hide the rest of the layer. To do so, go to layer > layer mask > hide all, then on the layer mask, use a White Brush to paint inside the eyes, as shown below:

2 paint 500x232 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

By doing so we reveal the eyes portion of the layer only. Here is the effect after the painting:

2 effect 500x615 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Use Surface Blur to Smooth Skin, instead of Gaussian Blur

Now let’s make her skin go smoother a bit. To do so, we use Surface Blur. The reason I chose Surface Blur is because unlike Gaussian Blur (which blurs the whole image), Surface Blur retains the edge details. This eliminate the needs of adding a layer mask on the duplicated layer to reveal the edges.

So let’s duplicate the orginal background layer once, and apply the following Surface Blur settings to it:

3 surf blur 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Drop the opacity of the duplicated layer to around 70%, and you will have the following effect:

3 effect1 500x638 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Make Her Lips Look Even More Delicious

To do so, we use the Lasso Tool to make a rough selection of the lips as shown below:

4 select 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Hit Ctrl + J twice to make two duplicates of the selection, change the blending mode of the first copy to “Multiply“, with 100% opacity. Change the blending mode of the second duplicated layer to “Linear Light“, with 55% opacity.

Use a soft, round eraser to gently erase the edge of the lips, you will have the following effect:

4 after blending 500x282 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Add another layer on top of all other layers, grab a soft round brush with White colour, gently paint around the lower lip to add some extra light:

4 paint1 500x247 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Hint: set brush flow and opacity to both around 40%, this way we can gradually apply the brush effect.

4 effect1 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Add Colour Depth and Lighting Contrast to Hair

Lastly, we can add some more depth to this girl’s hair. To do this, we can simply add a Curves Adjustment layer with the following settings:

5 curves 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Add the following layer mask to the Curves adjustment layer:

5 mask1 415x700 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Here is our final effect: (You can see by adding the layer mask, we leave only the hair portion highlighted)

5 effect 412x700 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

Optionally we add duplicate the orginal background layer and set the blending mode of the duplicated layer to “overlay”, reduce the opacity to 45%, you will have the following final effect: (click to enlarge)

basic photo retouch flatten 413x700 5 Really Easy, yet Essential Photo Retouch Techniques for Photoshop Beginners

That’s for this tutorial! Hope you enjoy it and find it useful, drop me a comment if you have any question, I will try my best to help you out.

Cheers and have a nice day!