Jun 7201012:14 PM CDT

Airbrush Tutorial



Airbrushing is always subject to a lot of discussion. Mostly the discussion ends up dividing people into two groups. Those who hate it, and those who simply love it!

In my opinion the last group of people is the worst :) Mostly because many in this group tend to 'over airbrush' their models.

In other words its a balance to eliminate blemishes, errors and still keeping the model looking alive and healthy - and not something from a Wax museum.

Therefore upon popular request I took some time to make a small tutorial on some of the techniques used in this forum post

In this tutorial I'm assuming that you as reader know the basic functions in Photoshop CS+ and words such as 'filter' 'gassian blur' and 'heal tool' ain't too unfamiliar too you.

Anyways... For this little tutorial we need a model - found this picture which is somewhat suitable:


A lovely women, with some birthmarks, minor blemishes, etc.

Again... in my opinion this girl really doesn't need airbrushing - but for the sake of the argument...lets say she does :)

1. Removing blemishes, etc.

Start off by duplicating your layer. Photoshop CS+ comes with a great little tool called the 'spot healing brush' which it's great for removing minor scratches, errors and in this case blemishes.

For best results use a small hard brush

Here is the result after using only the spot healing tool & and some minor brightness / contrast adjustments:

Not much of a difference, but this is mainly due to the downsized image that I had to use in this blog, and because the model hasn't really gotten that many blemishes :)

2. Removing 'dust & scratches'

The dust and scratches filter is a great tool to get that creamy looking skin effect. For this photo I used the following settings:

Experiment with this setting - it will vary from picture to picture (resolution), but what your looking for is a setting which will provide a creamy soft look.

Dust and scratches filter is found in the filter > noise > dust and scratches.

Results of dust and scratches:

3. Gaussian blur

Gaussian blur is simply used to 'clean up' after the sometimes obvious smoothing of dust and scratches.

Settings used:

Again settings may vary a lot - so experiment with it.

Results of gaussian blur:

4. Bringing back some 'noise'

This is a key step of the process - bringing back a little life to the skin. Without noise the skin ends up looking too barbie like and with no life. A simple way to make some noise is using the filter specifically made for this task.

Noise filter is found in the filter > noise > add noise..

Here is settings used:

The result of adding noise:

Zoomed view:

As you can see its not a huge difference, but enough to bring the skin back to life.

5. Reskinning the model

At this point we have created a lovely blurry photo with pretty much no detail - but thats all going to end in a litte bit.

1. Create a mask on the edited layer.

2. Fill the mask layer with black

2. All our edited changes should now dissapear and leave you with the original photo.

3. Now choose a fairly small brush - like say 30px and with no or little hardness level.

4. Start painting all the skin areas - and only them. Try to avoid detailed areas like lips, eyes, shadows around the nose, nails. Working in small areas like hands or around eyes, an even smaller brush might give a better result.

Finally the magic is almost done:

6. Finishing up

The photo is basically finished now - and the next couple of photos are just other examples of the final result.

For more information about playing around with overlays, curves and histograms keep an eye on my blog :)