Lesson 4

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Photo Portrait Retouching

Color Picker

White Balance



Advanced Cloning using Selection

Download project file

Non-destructive Retouching Workflow

The key to non-destructive re-touching is to create a new transparent layer.  Think of it as a makeup layer on top of the original.


  1. Instead of duplicating the original image and working with the copy, add a new transparent layer (shortcut: Shift+Ctrl + N)
  2. Use the spot healing and healing brush on the new transparent easily improve contrast
  3. Make sure Sample all layers is checks in the properties panel.
  4. Soften your brush using Shift + [.
  5. Spot Healing and Healing brush settings:
  6. Try both Content Aware and Proximity Match.

Tip:  Lower the Opacity to reduce the amount of retouching.  This will also remove harsh brush lines.

Use Keyboard Shortcut to lower the opacity: 1 – 10%, 2 – 20%, 3 – 30% etc. 

I would try Proximity Match first for portrait retouching.  Content Aware might be better for landscapes.

Scanning & Restoring Old B & W


WorkflowB & W restoration layers panel

  1. Scan photo at a minimum of 600 dpi
  2. Save using Lossless Compression like .tif or .png
  3. Use ruler tool to straighten image.
  4. Duplicate Layer Ctrl + J.
  5. Remove Dust & Scratches under Filters>Noise.
  6. Use Clone Stamp or Healing Brush to remove any damaged areas.
  7. To increase contrast on faded photo, add a  Levels Adjustment Layer and change blend mode to Hard Light.  Change opacity to lower harshness.
  8. Add Level Adjustment Layer and make normal white balance correction.
  9. Use Ctrl + Alt + Shift + e to save result to a new layer.
  10. Convert the new layer to B & W under the Enhance menu.
  11. Duplicate layer again and use Unsharp Mask.
  12. Add a Level Adjustment again if needed.
  13. Use Ctrl + Alt + Shift + e to save result to a new layer.
  14. Change blend mode to Multiply.  Adjust the opacity to your liking.  Multiply blend mode can bring out some detail.

Download this Layered PSD file.


  •  Try moving Level 4 above Multiply
  • Adjust Multiply opacity and Level 4 layer
  • Or, delete all of the layers above Background and see if you can do better
  • Create a vignette effect (Download Exercise 5a)
  • Add a sepia tone effect

Keyboard Shortcut to REMEMBER

Ctrl + Alt + Shift + e  will flatten all active layers into a new layer.

Non-Destructive Retouching Exercise

Sample Images