Using Photoshop to Touch-Up Images

Have you ever wondered why the people in old pictures always look so dashing? We haven’t all evolved to become less attractive, but photograph quality has improved exponentially in recent years. With the introduction of digital photography we can capture photographs any time and see them immediately onscreen. This does give us the ability to delete those that do not show us in our best light, but what about those once in a lifetime photo opportunities?

You have a photograph that can never be recreated but all you can see is the spot at the end of your nose. Nowadays even the camera on your smart phone will capture you and every one of your blemishes in high definition. Don’t worry help is at hand in the form of Photoshop.

The level and complicity of adjustments you can make on Photoshop vary, from touch-ups that take a few moments to in-depth photo manipulation. This blog will explain how to use Photoshop to touch-up images using techniques that will turn your holiday snaps into magazine ready images.



Lets start with that spot at the end of your nose. Removing small blemishes is simple. Once in Photoshop select the aptly named Spot Healing Brush Tool, adjust the size of your brush using the bar at the top, and drag over the blemished area. Any spots or unwanted moles will disappear before your eyes.

The Spot Healing Brush Tool does have its occasional downfalls, especially concerning blemishes near the eyes. In these cases it may be better to use the Clone Stamp Tool. Once you have selected the tool, you will need to sample an area of skin tone you wish to use to cover up the blemish. Do this by holding down the Alt key and clicking on your chosen area, you are then able colour over your blemish. Although a little harder to use, this tool gives you the ability to cover up blemishes with the correct skin tone.

Next we are going to look at how to soften skin, this is probably the technique used most by magazine image editors. The result will be smooth, wrinkle and freckle free skin. This is done by putting a Gaussian blur over a section of your image. First you need to make a duplicate layer, you can do this via the layer panel. Ensuring your duplicate layer is selected go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Using the window that will have popped-up on your screen, move the slider adjusting just a few pixels at a time until you have your desired blurring effect. When you are happy click on OK.

Next, add a mask to your duplicate layer using the Layers Panel, this tool is represented by a circle inside a square. Invert the mask using Image > Adjustments > Invert.

Select the Brush Tool ensuring your brush colour is white. You will need a soft brush style. Now all you need to do it paint in the areas you want softening, this can be applied to any exposed skin.




Landscapes are difficult to take. There are often many varying levels of light, meaning whilst some parts of your photograph are perfectly exposed, others may be too dark, or conversely, too light. Correcting this may sound like a complicated task, but adjusting shadows is one of the simplest things Photoshop has to offer.

To lighten areas that are in shadow we are going to use the Curves option. To adjust the Curves click on the half black, half white circle at the bottom of your Layers Panel and select Curves. A new box will appear. At the moment we are going to ignore the sliders at the bottom, instead click on the diagonal line that divides the square, and drag it upwards. Move it around until your shadows are lightened sufficiently. Click back on the Layers Panel and you will find a new layer entitled Curve 1, this is a mask similar to the one we used before, invert the mask using Image > Adjustments > Invert. As before, when we softened skin, you can now paint into the shadowed areas to lighten them.

Point and shoot cameras are extremely easy to use, the clue is in the name, but they do have their downfalls. Cameras such as these will expose to a person or an object causing the sky to become white and undetailed. To bring colour back to your sky we will again look to the layers panel. Clicking on the half black, half white circle at the bottom you will need to select Levels. Focusing primarily on the black and grey points, move the sliders to the right until the blue sky and cloud detail has returned to your image. We will yet again need to invert the mask, this time called Levels 1. You are now able to paint the sky back into your Photograph. All aspects of your photograph should now look perfectly exposed.



from your images is one of the most popular uses of Photoshop. There are many ways to remove unwanted aspects of you Photograph. The best techniques to use will depend on your photograph. I will show you two of the easiest options. Firstly, the Stamp Tool. You already know how to remove blemishes using this tool. Removing pylon lines for example, is just as easy.

Another option is to use the Patch Tool, this can be found in your Tools Panel. Having this tool selected, draw around the object you want removed. Next, drag the selection around the image until you find a section that blends seamlessly with the surrounding area. Once you have done this go to Select > Deselect. It is a simple as that.



These are just a few ways to touch-up photographs using Adobe Photoshop. As you become confident using the tools described in this blog you will become more comfortable in exploring the other uses of Photoshop. The best way to learn is to use the program, but remember to always make a copy of your original photograph file, should something go wrong it is always nice to know you have the backup hidden safely away.