Portrait editing tricks: smooth out skin with the High Pass filter
The High Pass filter is commonly used for sharpening, but it can also be used to smooth skin. The first step is to create a Duplicate Layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J or Layer>Duplicate Layer) and then set its Blend mode to Overlay using the drop-down list in the Layers Panel.
Now, invert the layer by pressing Cmd/Ctrl+I and select the High Pass filter (Filter>Other>High Pass).
In the filter dialog, set the Radius to 10 pixels, before adding a Gaussian Blur filter (Filter>Blue>Gaussian Blur) with a Radius of 3 pixels.
Next, create a mask by holding down Alt while clicking the Add Layer Mask icon which is at the bottom of the Layers Panel.
You can now start work on your image using a white, soft-edged brush to paint over the skin and blur out the imperfections. Avoid the eyes and eyelashes because you want these to remain sharp.
If you make a mistake, paint the sharper image back in by switching to a black brush. If necessary, use the layer’s Opacity control to reduce the impact of the softening filter.
PAGE 1 – Portrait editing tricks: heal and clone
PAGE 2 – Portrait editing tricks: re-colour eyes
PAGE 3 – Portrait editing tricks: smooth out skin with the High Pass filter
PAGE 4 – Portrait editing tricks: raw retouching
Free portrait lighting cheat sheet
Best camera focus techniques: 10 surefire ways to get sharp photos
How to focus your camera for any subject or scene: free photography cheat sheet
Getting sharp images: every photo technique you need to know starting out