How to Photoshop (Airbrush) Portraits

Note: I am not the author of this guide.

You see it all the time.. super clean skin of models and actors on magazines. Those are all airbrushed by professionals who are paid lots of money to make something more beautiful than what it already is. This very simple guide will illustrate how to do it on Photoshop in a few minutes.

Step 1:

First open a photo of a person and select the healing brush from the tool pallet. Next zoom in to your image so you have a good close up view of any blemishes or wrinkles on the person’s face. Then set your brush size so it is just slightly larger than the blemish you are trying to remove. Now we need to set a source for the tool so hold down the option key on a Mac or the alt key on a PC. This should change your cursor to a little target symbol. Keep holding down the key and look for a clear area of skin near the blemish that has the same tone as the area you want to fix. Then click that spot. Now release the option or alt key and paint over the blemish. The blemish should disappear. Repeat these steps for other blemishes, wrinkles, scars etc. on the face.

Step 2:

Now that your image is fairly clean we will smooth out the skin tones and add a little glow to the skin. First, duplicate the layer your image is in. You can do this a few different ways but just dragging the layer in the layer pallet to the icon of a sticky note on the bottom of the pallet is a quick and easy way.

Step 3:

Make sure your duplicate layer is selected then go to the filter menu then the blur option the Gaussian blur option.

Step 4:

Set radius of the blur so the skin texture becomes very smooth. The radius you use will depend on how big your image is. Then click ok.

Step 5:

Adjust your blurred layer's opacity to below 50%. You can adjust the layers opacity by clicking on the arrow next to opacity value in the layers pallet then by moving the slider around. 50% is just a starting spot so try adjusting the opacity till you find a spot that makes the skin nice and even but still allows some texture to show through.

Step 6:

Create a new layer mask by clicking the button that looks like a grey square with a white circle on it located at the bottom of the layers pallet.

Step 7:

Select the paintbrush tool from the tools pallet and set your foreground color to black. You can easily set it to black by pushing the “d” key on your keyboard followed by the “x” key. Then select a nice soft brush and paint over your subject’s eyes, lips, hair, or anywhere else you want to restore the original sharpness to. You can see where you have masked in the layer mask icon in the layers pallet.

Step 8:

If you are happy with the results go to the layer menu and select the flatten image option. Save a copy of your image and enjoy.