Gimp Tutorial: How to Retouch a Face, Take TWO
Back in January of 2009, I posted the original Gimp Tutorial: How to Retouch a Face. A recent comment on that post prompted me to re-read it…and I realized that I rarely use those methods anymore. In fact, I never use the second method I wrote about. There is another way that is simpler and faster in most instances. So, here is my How to Retouch a Face Tutorial, TAKE TWO:
Keep in mind that less is usually more when it comes to retouching faces. We don’t want everyone to look like a porcelain doll- we just want to remove distractions.
Step 1: Choose a Photo & Select Editing Tool
Like last time, I’m using a picture of myself for this “how to.” I thought it would be mean to say, “Here’s a picture of my friend so-and-so. They have lots of blemishes and wrinkles we can get rid of!” I figure it’s only right to use my own face for something like this- I hope you don’t get too tired of it! ; )
-Select the “Smudge” tool
-Decrease the opacity to about 40-50%
-Set the Brush to “Circle Fuzzy” (oops, forgot to highlight that in the picture)
-Set the scale according to the size of the are you are editing
It’s pretty self-explanatory, but here’s a picture to demonstrate what the smudge tool does. You essentially “drag” the shade or color of the start point into the end point. In the top examples, I smudged from dark purple to light purple, “dragging” the dark into the light. Notice the difference in the bottom examples, where I smudged from light purple to dark purple. Keep this effect in mind when working on faces. You wouldn’t want to drag a smudgey dark line across someone’s face…
Step 2: Smudge Away (Retouch)
When deciding where to smudge, look for what’s distracting. For example, in this picture my chin looks a bit splotchy. So, I smudged over the area. Here, I would smudge mostly from light to dark. (The far right portion of the picture is post-chin-smudging. No more splotchies).
Next, I use the smudge tool to get rid of the squinty eye lines and my cheek freckles. (This is more actually more editing than I would normally do, but I want to show the difference between the before and after). In this picture, that light across my face is pretty harsh (Hence, the squinting). I can use the smudge tool to gently blur the harsh edges of the light. This part has to be particularly subtle to look natural. You have to be careful of pulling in too much dark, or pulling out too much light.
Step 3: Dodge and Burn
If you want to go one step further, you can do some subtle lightening of the teeth and whites of the eyes. You could also darken the pupil of the eye, eyelashes, etc.
-Select the Dodge/Burn Tool. To lighten, select “Dodge.” To darken, select “Burn.”
-Decrease the opacity to about 30%. This really depends on the picture you’re editing. You want the effect to be very subtle, otherwise it will be too obvious and look worse rather than better.
-Set the brush to “Circle Fuzzy,” and set the scale according to your picture size.
To the left is my freckly, squinty, splotchy face in all it’s natural glory. To the right is my “Just like the models in magazines, I have a totally flawless complexion” face. Viola. Like I said before, this “after” picture definitely borders on the porcelain-doll look, and it’s very easy to go overboard with the skin “perfecting.” Resist the urge to over-edit!
Here is an even closer look at the before and after for those of you who aren’t sick of my face yet. Notice that my features are still distinguishable- I was careful not to smudge over any important lines, otherwise my whole face would just look blurry.
Here’s a picture of my nephew as another example. I borrowed the photo from my sister Katie over at Cornerstone Photography. Dear Katie, Please don’t take offense that I decided to edit your picture…I didn’t have any good baby ones of my own…
In the “before” picture, Adam’s face looks a little rough. I used the smudge tool to subtly smooth out his skin, avoiding distinguishing features like eyelids, lips, etc. The “after” picture still looks like Adam, but the new smoothness takes away distraction and keeps the focus on his sweet face.
Have fun, and remember that we don’t ALWAYS have to look like we should be on the cover of a magazine…but we can if we want. ; )