Videos: How to retouch skin and eyes in natural-looking portraits


posted Tuesday, February 15, 2022 at 7:30 PM EDT


Photographer Sean Tucker is known by many for his great street photography. However, Tucker is also a very talented portrait photographer. Of course, the pandemic has impacted portrait photography, so Tucker hasn't posted many portraits over the last couple of years. However, this year, he has a renewed focus on portraiture and has posted a lot more of his portraiture work on Instagram.

Flooded with questions from fans about how he lit certain shots, edited his photos and performed portrait retouching, Tucker decided to start a 'Portrait Editing' video series on his YouTube channel. So far, Tucker has published two portrait editing photos.

The first video is focused on natural-looking skin retouching. The video outlines a three-stage process within Adobe Photoshop that retouches skin in a subtle, realistic way using the spot healing tool, curves and color brushes.

Tucker's approach to skin retouching is to maintain a natural, realistic look. A light touch is required. Tucker uses the 'two week rule' before determining what to change about someone's skin in a portrait. This means that if there's a blemish or mark on someone's face that likely won't be there in two weeks, he takes it out. This means that a zit or pimple is removed, whereas a mole, freckle or scar is not.

This past weekend, Tucker released the second video in his 'Portrait Editing' series that focuses on enhancing a portrait subject's eyes. The eye enhancement process is five steps and requires healing brushes, dodge and burn layers and blending modes within Photoshop.

If eyes are the window to the soul, you really want to get them right in your portraits. The first step outlined above is to remove the most visible veins from someone's eyes. You don't want to remove all of them, as that wouldn't look natural, but you want to get the more distracting ones to be less noticeable. After doing this cleanup, the next steps are to make the eyes 'pop,' for lack of a better term. You want to accentuate the natural colors and vibrancy of someone's eyes without making them look fake. Like with retouching skin, less is often more when retouching any aspect of a portrait.

To see more from Sean Tucker, visit his website and follow him on Instagram. Subscribe to Tucker's YouTube channel to stay up to date with his videos.

(Via Sean Tucker