Lesson 4

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Photo Portrait Retouching & Cloning

Color Picker & Swatch

Understanding Color

Healing Brush for Retouching

The Healing Brush is specifically designed for portrait retouching because it clones the texture of the sample area while blending with the color and luminosity surrounding target area (usually skin).

Spot Healing Brush

You can remove any unwanted object with the Spot-Healing brush even your X.  In Photoshop, this brush is designed to remove small skin blemishes, but in Elements 11 and lower,  it can be used to remove larger objects such as people.   This is the only way to take advantage of Photoshop’s content-aware fill algorithm, but by Elements 13 Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill was added.

Content Aware Fill


Advanced Cloning using Selection

Clone is the best way to remove large unwanted objects.  Clone gives you more control over what area replace.  Hold down the  ALT/Option key to take a sample of the area you wish to clone.

Download project file

more Videos

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.

The Liquify Tool

When you see a perfect thin model on the cover of women’s magazine, we always referred to the photo as being “Photoshopped”, but actually, the tool used remove 20lb. from the model is called the “Liquify Tool”.

Liquify Tool Sample

Video: Backlash of Over Photoshopping

Photoshop fails that actually got published

Pseudo Frequency Separation Technique

Photoshop Frequency Separation Method

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 the image.
  4. Duplicate Layer Ctrl + J.
  5. Remove Dust & Scratches under Filters>Noise.
  6. Use the Clone Stamp or Healing Brush to remove any damaged areas.
  7. To increase contrast on an old faded photo, add a  Levels Adjustment Layer.  You Don’t Need to do anything adjustment – just change the blend mode to Overlay or Hard Light.  If Hard Light is too strong, then change the opacity to lower harshness.
  8. Add Level Adjustment Layer and make normal white balance correction.
  9. Use Ctrl + Alt + Shift + e to save the result to a new layer.
  10. Convert the new layer to B & W under the Enhance menu.
  11. Duplicate layer again and use the Unsharp Mask under sharpening.
  12. Add a Level Adjustment again if needed.
  13. Use Ctrl + Alt + Shift + e again to save the result to a new layer.
  14. Change the 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