How to retouch portraits like a pro: 9 ways to polish off your people pictures

How to retouch portraits like a professional: 9 ways to polish off your people pictures

In this portrait retouching tutorial we’ve got a selection of professional retouching techniques for reshaping bulges in clothes, boosting skin and adding depth with the Dodge and Burn tools. Along the way we cover key skills like selections, layer masks and adjustment layers.

How to retouch portraits like a professional: 9 ways to polish off your people pictures

You might not need to use every skill here on every portrait, but it’s useful to have them in your retouching arsenal for when they’re needed. We’ll also round things off with a retro colour effect using brushes.

And most importantly, every edit in the workflow is on a separate layer, so you can keep things natural by reining in any over-the-top effects by lowering the opacity.

SEE MORE: 6 portrait editing tricks for timeless, on-trend images

How to retouch portraits like a professional: steps 1-3

Portrait retouching techniques: 01 Digital nose job

Portrait retouching techniques: 01 Digital nose job
Download our start files and follow along! Open retouch_before.jpg. Right click the layer in the Layers panel and choose Convert to Smart Object, then go to Filter>Liquify.

Zoom in to the waist, then grab the Forward Warp tool and use it to gently push the clothes into a smoother line.

Next, move on to the face. Push the nose inwards slightly and tuck in the chin for a stronger jaw line. Hit OK.

SEE MORE: 50 free Photoshop actions for portrait photographers

Portrait retouching techniques: 02 Copy the dress

Portrait retouching techniques: 02 Copy the dress
There’s a distracting fold in the clothes where the dress meets the armpit. The easiest way to remove it is to copy a similar area on top.

Grab the Lasso tool from the Tools panel and make a rough selection of a nearby area of dress. Make it slightly larger than the crease we want to cover. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+J to copy the selection to a new layer.

  SEE MORE: 10 portrait photography mistakes every photographer makes (and how to avoid them)

Portrait retouching techniques: 03 Hide the creases

Portrait retouching techniques: 03 Hide the creases
Grab the Move tool and drag the newly copied piece of dress over the offending crease under the armpit. Try to position it so that the pattern continues unbroken.

Hold down Alt and click the Add layer mask icon to hide the extra piece of dress. Grab the Brush tool, set colour to white, choose a soft-edged tip, then paint to obscure the crease by revealing the dress.

How to retouch portraits like a professional: steps 1-3
How to retouch portraits like a professional: steps 4-6
How to retouch portraits like a professional: steps 7-9

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