Cutting it in Photoshop - part 2 of 1 2 3

by Jane Conner-ziser Published 01/12/2012


When you do get to the skin consider carefully what you want to do and make a plan for progression. Random retouching is rarely successful. Some tips are: temporary items, such as blemishes, bug bites, scratches, razor burn, etc may be removed without consequence to the character of the subject. Permanent items may be toned down, shortened and reshaped according to the lighting and the bone structure of the face. Go for expression rather than wrinkles.

It is important to shape the lighting gracefully around each facial feature. It is important to study the face so you can bring out the best expression. Most people are smiling in portraits (or otherwise looking pleasant), but everyone has a bit of stress these days and that shows in the face, too. Stress can be expressed as a slightly pinched forehead or strain around the nose or mouth. Relaxing the muscles of the face makes the person look rested, healthy and fresh. (It is not important to blur the skin; in fact, it is usually detrimental to the portrait!) I retouch big things first because it makes the most visual difference and cuts down on the time it takes to do small things that really don't matter. I relax the face while I shape the lighting. I don't remove the shadows under the eyes - they are necessary to hold the eyeball in the socket. Plus, people feel unretouched if they see shadows under their eyes even if you gave the rest of them a complete overhaul. If there are problem areas such as oily highlights, I take the reflection down but I don't remove the light. My goal is natural faces and bodies even if it takes a lot of retouching!


The last thing I usually do for a portrait is brighten the eyes and teeth slightly because it adds the finishing touch to bringing light and freshness to the face. Sometimes I add details such as eyelashes and iris colour.

Sometimes I add pink to the shaded areas of the skin. Every portrait is different so it's important to analyse each one and give the person your best attention because you are going to make an amazing difference in how they see themselves from now on. You can give them confidence! They will love you for it!

You can see that while I have minimised the texture on the skin, you can still see it and her skin looks natural. She has soft shadows under her eyes and delicate eyelashes and eyebrow hairs. I've added some colour to the shaded areas of the skin tones and removed the spots that I considered temporary on her face. It's delicate work, but the result should be a lovely portrait that expresses the mood of the subject - in her case, a quiet Zenlike confidence.

I hope you enjoyed my sharing a little piece of my world with you today. There is a lot to tell - and you can read more about my journey in photography at my blog From Film to Pixels / a photographer's journey from film to technology: If you want to learn more about retouching, you can learn how to do these jobs and more on Jane's new DVD, Portrait Retouching for Everyone. It has over 13 hours of 'work along with Jane' movies and covers just about everything you need to know in order to produce beautiful portrait retouching. Check it out at: And, finally, if you have any questions, please feel free to email Jane at If she's travelling or out of the country, it sometimes takes a few days for her to get back to you, but she will respond to your mail personally.

Jane at The Convention

Jane Conner-Ziser started out as a classically trained fine artist who discovered that photography had the potential to offer her a creative livelihood that was personally fulfilling while producing results that were highly saleable.

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1st Published 01/12/2012
last update 21/07/2022 10:38:22

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