Deke’s Techniques 128: Creating Silky Smooth Skin in Photoshop

128 Achieving silky smooth skin with retouching

Hey Gang. Today I make up for my outrageous post from last week with a classic retouching technique. One in which I take a photograph of a lovely woman and make her skin look wonderfully, reasonably, and altogether realistically smooth.

Here’s the official description from

This week’s free Deke’s Techniques demonstrates a classic skin-surface retouch that keeps important things like the eyes, mouth, and other character-defining detail intact. By judiciously applying a Smart Filter blur to the skin areas, then masking the key defining features, you can ensure your model remains authentic looking (and “recognizable by her own mother,” which is one of my favorite retouching guidelines by noted Photoshop Diva Katrin Eismann).

Deke begins by selecting the skin with a new feature of the Color Range command in Photoshop CS6 that allows you to automatically select skin tones. Next, you’ll deselect those key areas that shouldn’t be included like the eyes and mouth before applying the Gaussian Blur filter. The technique doesn’t rely on exact selections; you’ll see how Deke uses the Polygonal Lasso to demark major areas of the face that should be masked from the blur. After scaling back the blur opacity to realistic levels (we all have pores, after all), you can paint back in areas around the nose and eyes that add character.

Here is the before image (left) and the retouched smooth-skin version with all the things that make a face a face still intact (right):

Creating lovely smooth skin in Photoshop

To finish the effect in the final image, members of can watch Deke’s exclusive video this week, which shows you how to add vibrancy back to naturally discolored teeth without making them artificially white. It’s sensible retouching week in Deke’s Techniques.  And with the flexibility of these techniques, you should adjust to taste when retouching your own portraits.

And Deke will be back with another free technique next week.

Seriously, this might be my most practical Deke’s Techniques ever. Don’t expect this thing all the time. In fact, next week, I promise you nothing practical at all.

Next entry:Deke’s Techniques 130: Head Shrinking in Photoshop

Previous entry:Deke’s Techniques 127: Creating an Upside Down Face Effect


  • Wow, where’s Deke ?

    Thanks for yet another course.
    Love your use of Brightness / Contrast layers.  ( So what happened to dummy layers )
    Moon beams were cool too but prefer kite flying with the clouds. ( Gods’ rays )
    Tried it for comparison, think it’s better. Subjective.
    Magic wand and auto selections, what will be next ?

    Next movie ?

    Guess I just appreciate the old you.

    Back to continue with PSCS 5 ( F, A, and M )

    Seee Yahh !

    ps Thanks for sharing 25+ years of experience. And DekeKeys.

  • skin Smoothing Technique

    Hi Deke,

    I went through your skin smoothing technique posted this week.

    It seems you’re using a tried and tested method.

    But browsing the web on the subject, I found Pros using a method called “high frequency” with pretty good results.

    I guess you know that technique, but for some reason neither you or Chris Orwig teach this technique…

    Is there a reason why?

    thanks for sharing your knowledge!


    Versailles, FR

  • Good job

    Woow ,really?? I like it jocuri :D

  • Nothing against those techniques

    In fact, I’ve seen a few I quite like.

    But the initial setup: A new Gaussian Blur layer followed by an elaborate application of Image > Apply Image (original image inverted set to Add with a Scale value of 2) is nothing more than an inverted version of High Pass. Which when set to Linear Light (inverted or no), delivers the same results.

    That makes sense, right? If not, High Pass is simpler.

    In other words, I’m tempted to say that I already covered this in Deke’s Techniques 006: “Smoothing Skin Texture with an Anti-Edge Mask.” But that might just be the beginning. I think there is more to explore here.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • playing video from the embed says it’s private

    Youtube say’s “This video is unavailable”. Is it still available somewhere? Thanks-Jamie

    -Correction-it plays on my machine at home.

  • If movies are private, please let us know

    Some of the older Deke’s Techniques have been inadvertently going to “private” lately; please let us know if this happens to you.

    And thanks to all for the heads up on those that were broken; they should be fixed now.