Gimp Tutorial: How to Retouch a Face
Update: I posted a new tutorial that may be more helpful:
Every once in a while, I find a …distraction… on a picture of someone’s face. Or, the picture is just lacking the soft quality that I want. The GIMP editing program gives me all the tools I need to fix this…without going over the top. I’ve seen some pictures that have been “retouched” so much that your (okay, okay, MY) first reaction is “ummm, that is definitely not what his/her face really looks like.” My goal is to show you how to take away distractions and make a face look a little softer, without anyone supposing that you did.
There are two main tools that I use for retouching faces. The first one I’ll show you is the HEALING tool. I call it the band-aid. I love using the band-aid.
Poor Lily had scratches and funny little red bumps on her face when I took this picture. While she’s still adorable, I think it detracts, eh?
Step 1: Make Background Copy
Click on the “duplicate” button to make a background copy. That way you always have an untouched original version of the picture. Remember to select the copy as the layer that you’re working on.
Step 2: Select the Band-Aid
Select the band-aid button (highlighted in yellow). This tool copies the texture (and maybe a little more?) of any area you choose. Our plan is to copy the smoothness of Lily’s cheek to the spots where she has a scratch or bump. Next, select your brush. I always use one of the fuzzy brushes to avoid hard, obvious lines.
Step 3: Set Opacity and Scale
Use the opacity slider to determine how obvious the change will be. Sometimes it is too obvious if you leave it at 100%, so play around with it. Use the Scale slider to change the size of your brush.
Step 4: Set Copy Area
Find a nearby spot on the face that is nice and smooth. While holding down the ctrl button, click on that spot. This is the texture you will be copying.
Step 5: Smooth it out
Let go of the ctrl button, and paint over the area that needs to be fixed. You are basically copying the look and feel of another area without completely copying it. If that makes any sense at all. There’s another tool for complete copying…
Now I’m going to do the same thing by Lily’s mouth. I moved the copy area closer to where I’m working. Notice that the area you’re copying from moves with your cursor. That means you have to pay attention to where your original circle was set. For example, if I set the copy area close to Lily’s nose and didn’t pay attention to it as I moved my cursor, I might end up copying Lily’s nostrils to another area, and that would look pretty weird, right?
Before and After
Notice that the change I made was very subtle? Lily’s face doesn’t look fake, but it doesn’t have those little bumps and scratches on it anymore. 🙂
This shows you how to use a Gaussian blur to smooth out the face. If I use this, I use it in conjunction with the band-aid tool.
Lily, again. She just shows up everywhere. She’s in a huge percentage of the pictures on my computer at this moment.
Step 1: Select Tool
You can use the lasso/free select tool (third from the left on top row) or the scissors tool (far left on second row- sorry I forgot to highlight!)
Step 2: Using the Scissors Tool
I chose to use the scissors tool because it gives you more control over what area you select. When I use the lasso, my hands aren’t always steady enough. To use the scissors tool, click around the area you want selected. It will automatically “snap” to the closest boundary, giving you a pretty accurate outline.
When you get all the way back around to where you started, click on the original dot to connect everything. Then, click inside the area to select it.
But look, my eye is in there- I don’t want my eye and eyebrow to be smoothed out with a blur…
So, I chose the scissors tool again, to deselect the eye area. Hold the shift button, which makes a minus sign appear next to your cursor. Click around the area you want to deselect- in this case the eye. Connect the last two dots, then click inside the area WHILE holding down SHIFT.
Viola! The face is now selected while the eye area is not. I hope my explanation made sense. This one’s harder to explain through typing than I thought…
Step 3: Apply Gaussian Blur
To smooth out the face, go to filters >> Blur >> Gaussian Blur
Step 4: Select Blur Radius
A box pops up asking for the blurring specifics. See the up and down arrows next to the number 10? Use this to increase or decrease the amount of blur. I think it defaults to 5 if you don’t change it. Some pictures need more blurring than others. You might want to try lower, then go high. Remember, you still want it to look natural, right?
If the blur wasn’t enough, you can select “repeat gaussian blur” to repeat at the same intensity. Or, you can set the intensity to another number.
Before and After:
There isn’t a huge difference between these pictures, but I think the second one has a slightly softer quality to it, don’t you? I used the band-aid technique to quickly touch up the areas that the blur didn’t reach.
I promise, I don’t do this to all the pictures of myself!
PS: Does this simple edit make you question that perfect skin that all the models seem to have? hmmmm…