Photoshop tutorial: Retouch photos with realistic perfect skin

Tigz Rice reveals the secrets behind removing blemishes from photos without making models look plastic and unreal


Retouching skin is a common talking point for photographers, as there’s a fine line between lustrous smoothness and the dreaded plastic look. An overly airbrushed image makes subjects appear more like children’s dolls than real people, and robs them of their humanity and charisma.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

In this tutorial, burlesque photographer and retouch expert Tigz Rice looks at ways of improving the appearance of skin and removing blemishes, without losing that all-important texture. Using Photoshop, you’ll learn how to make subjects look the best they can be in the real world, and not like Barbie.

Time to complete

5 - 30 minutes



Step 1


Open your chosen image in Photoshop and press Ctrl/Cmd + J to duplicate your image. Call this new layer ‘retouch’.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Step 2


Focus in on the face at 100% (Ctrl/Cmd + 1), and using the healing brush tool, start clearing away any noticeable blemishes, including spots. 

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

When editing skin, I use a mix of both the Healing and Spot Healing tools. The Healing Tool allows me to sample textures, so is great for working on large areas of skin. The Spot Healing Tool’s content aware feature makes it handier for removing stray hairs that run through facial features.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 3


At this point, it’s also a good idea to correct or reshape anything else on the face you may be thinking of retouching. Here, I’ve reshaped and evened out the eyelashes using a mix of Liquify and Brushes.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Step 4


Press Cmd + Shift + N to bring up the New Layer dialog box and rename this layer ‘Skin’. Change the layer mode to Overlay and tick the 50% grey box below. Press OK.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Step 5


Now zoom into the skin to about 300-400%. You’ll see the skin has light and dark areas. With the Dodge tool set to midtones and an exposure of 4%, start going over these darker areas with your brush.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 6


Toggle on and off your ‘Skin’ layer to check your progress as you go. You can also use the Burn tool (set at the same settings as Dodge tool) to reduce any hotspots on the skin.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Step 7


Zooming back out, you’ll see the skin now appears far more even. Continue editing the rest of the image until you’re happy with the results.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

About the artist: Tigz Rice


Tigz Rice is an internationally published photographer, specialising in boudoir and burlesque photography. As well as running Tigz Rice Studios, she also works internationally as a burlesque festival photographer, and has clients in Italy, Paris and Barcelona.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials


Advertisement. Article continues below