The following trick will make your portraits skin look just like the glamour shots you see in fashion magazines. In fact a similar technique is used by the retouch skin by professionals at Penthouse. In this trick the objective is to retain the character of the model as much as possible. There are many ways to improve your portraits, including color correction, retouching and others, but the most important thing to do is to smoothen out the skin of your model. Frontal flash is probably the worst thing you can do to your model, it brings out all the imperfections of the skin. That’s why I’ve picked such an image for this example.

The red channel is the cleanest in skin tones, so we are going to use that to clean up our image. In Window/Channels select the Red channel (or press Apple-1) and press select all (or press Apple-A). Make a copy (Apple-C).

Select the composite RGB channels (or press Apple-~). Go back to the layers window and paste the clipboard as a new layer (Apple-V). Select luminosity for the layer blending mode.

Now we have to mask out this layer to retain the details of the face like eyes, lips, etc. To do this we will make a special selection based on the luminosity of the image by pressing Apple-Alt-~.

Now select your top luminosity layer and apply a mask with your selection by clicking the second small icon from the left on the bottom of the layer window.

To bring back some color to the face choose the layer effect/curves (fourth icon on from the left on the bottom of the layer window) and bring the middle of the curve down.

Now the skin of the model has been cleaned up while maintaining it’s texture. However in overall the image is bit scary. At this point you will need to flatten the layers of your image, put the original below it and start deleting parts of the layer with the pure skin to reveal real eyes and lips. Also, you will need to use the healing brush to remove highlights on the nose and veins on the face that are exagerated during the cleaning process from the top pure skin layer. In this example I also removed a bit of color by lowering the saturation.

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