How To Fix Skin in Photoshop

The ability to fix skin in Photoshop is a skill that every photographer should have in their arsenal. Of course, this can range from taking out an unfortunate zit, to completely altering the look of someone’s aesthetic – however, even the smallest edit can step-up the game of your portrait dramatically.

This will show you some basic tools to get you started with some simple techniques to give your models flawless skin.

Spot healing

Spot healing is a tool that has endless uses; from fixing skin to removing unwanted items in the background. To use this, select the spot healing tool on the left hand side of your screen – it should look like this.


Spot Healing tool

Once, you’ve selected it, you should see this menu appear at the top. Hit content aware. This means that it will consider the tone and colour around the area when it removes the blemish.


Content Aware option

To use it, paint over the blemish you wish to remove by clicking and dragging over the area.


Before and after spot healing

Patch tool

Another option is to use the patch tool to remove blemishes. It’s also a good tool to get rid of any lines or bags below eyes. Patch tool takes a sample of some pixels then matches them closely to a selection that you pick.

Draw around the blemish or line then drag your mouse to an area that is closest to what you what you want. For example, if you are removing a spot, drag your mouse to healthy skin close to the blemish and it will replicate it for you. You may need to repeat this process a few times in order to blend the skin well and make it look as natural as possible.


Patch tool


Patch tool before and after

Smoothing Skin

Smoothing skin is one of the trickier techniques when it comes to portraiture editing. It’s a more difficult technique in terms of maintaining a real-looking image and can take a little time to get just right. Tread carefully here and remember that less is more in order to keep your portrait looking authentic.

There are a plethora of ways to create smoother skin, one of the easiest ways is by using a high pass filter then gaussan blur.

Step 1:

Fix any blemishes in your image and get it to a point where you’re happy.


Remove blemishes

Step 2:

Duplicate your layer and rename it ‘Skin Smoothing’. Then, go to the filter menu and under other, select ‘High Pass’. When the dialogue box pops up drag the radius to between around 18-24 pixels. Select a higher number if your image is cropped in close.


Apply high pass filter

Step 3:

Once you’ve applied the high pass filter, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. When the dialogue box pops up, enter a umber that is 1/3 of the number you entered into the high pass filter. For example if you entered 24 pixels into the high pass filter, choose a radius of 8 pixels for your gaussian blur, then click OK.

Add Gaussian Blur

Add Gaussian Blur

Step 4: Next, you need to invert this layer by hitting command – I (Mac) or Ctrl – I (PC).

Step 5:

Change the bending mode from normal to linear light. Your image should no longer look grey.


Change the blend mode

Step 6:

Next, you need to adjust your layer to get the skin to look how you want. Hit Layer > Layer Style > Blending options. When the dialogue box pops up, you’ll see two sliders at the bottom. These control how your skin smooth layer blends with the ones underneath it. Press and hold the option/alt key and slide the ‘this layer’ option so that it looks like this. (Pressing the option/alt key means that the slider splits in half like below.)


Adjust the blending options

Step 7:

Create a layer mask using the layer mask button, then paint the sections you want to smooth in white. Avoid painting over any sections you do not want to smooth, such as eyes, eyebrows and lips.


Create a layer mask

Step 8:

Adjust the opacity until you get a more natural look that you’re happy with.


Adjust opacity


Before and after