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Remove Blemishes From a Face Using Photoshop

Learn How To Clean Up Skin Tones and Complexions in Photoshop

Photoshop Tips - Remove Blemishes

Ok, removing blemishes is a quick and easy one but can be sometimes very effective, especially with wedding portraits. The first thing that I must ask, is are you are doing paid work for a client? If so, it is important to check before making any radical alterations.

When asking about blemishes, please be quite tactful, this is a sensitive area! "Do you want me to lose your zits and wrinkles"? just won't cut it. Normally, a bride or woman (or men) will jokingly say something like "get rid of my lines would you?"

If this happens, jump in and say something tactful about how good he/she looks anyway. You know..."if you would like some "digital make up" done, it won't be a problem". Get the approval to remove blemishes from his or her person and then make subtle and well made alterations.

Be careful, be subtle

Do not remove permanent scars, moles or other disfigurements unless specifically asked to do so. You may end up with an irate client left feeling paranoid about themselves. Not good for business.

You should concentrate on removing small blemishes, spots, sunburn etc that will be gone in a short time anyway. Maybe the person had a late night before the wedding and has dark areas under the eyes or cuts and/or razor burn from shaving. Whatever you are removing, just be tactful and good at what you do. If you do it well you should just get comments about how nice you have made them look. Without any embarrassing situations.

Ok, open the image that you wish to work on. I guess it is only fair that I should use a member of my family for this tutorial (in this case, my son). I don't want to offend any clients by highlighting their spots or whatever on the web for all to see!

Now admittedly, in this image (see fig.1 below), the blemishes are few. However, there are minor things such as scratches, bits of dust from playing and a little "drool" around the mouth (nice!). I do have some of him with chickenpox but that may take a little longer to illustrate.

Remove Blemishes

Photoshop Tips - Remove Blemishes Fig.1

Healing brush

We are going to use the healing brush to remove blemishes. This is because it pulls information from the surrounding area that we are altering and blends it in seamlessly. To make the transition smooth and unnoticeable.

To make things more effective, we need the right kind of brush. Too hard and it will show. As in fig.2, I normally use a hardness of 0% and spacing of around 25%. The diameter will change as you work so there is not a set size for this. You can experiment with these settings, these are just what I find most effective for a lot of my work.

Remove Blemishes The Brush

Photoshop Tips - Remove Blemishes Fig.2

To really remove blemishes well, you must zoom right in on the area that you wish to "clean" (fig.3). Work with a small brush too, this will result in changes that even his lovely mother wouldn't notice! In Photoshop, press CTRL-ALT-0 (zero) to see the image at 100%. This helps a lot.

Remove Blemishes Brush Size

Photoshop Tips - Remove Blemishes Fig.3

Pick a similar area of skin

First place the brush over an area of skin that is similar to that which you wish to change. Make sure it is a largish area with no blemishes, lines or other effects. These will be transferred, blended and noticeable in the result. If the area has small pores this is great and will make the effect even more natural.

When you have placed the brush over a suitable area, press the ALT key and left click on the mouse. This selects that area as a benchmark and will use it for all healing until you do that process again. Now you can start to play. Place the brush over the scar, scratch or blemish and start to "paint" over it. All the time keeping the left mouse button pressed.

Whilst you are "healing" you will see a marker cross which indicates where you are pulling the healing information from (fig.4 below). You will notice that it moves as you move the mouse. Be careful not to let it run over an area that is different to your selected patch, otherwise it will show in the result.

Remove Blemishes

Photoshop Tips - Remove Blemishes Fig.4

When you release the left mouse button, you should see that the blemish has gone…magic. Now do the rest (see image below)! Have a play at this point and see where errors can be made. Don't go too mad with the alterations, it is easy to get carried away when you first discover this tool. Make it look natural.

Finish off

While you are zoomed in close, press the space bar and move the mouse around the image to remove all other blemishes, remembering to select a new area close to that which you wish to change each time. Your end result should be a nice, clean image with unnoticeable results as in the final image below. A portrait to be proud of : )

Hover cursor over the image below to see the before and after! On mobile? Tap inside and outside of the image to see the differences.

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