I have yet another technique for minimizing the appearance of wrinkles using Adobe Photoshop. I know I’ve written about this topic a good number of times already, but I think it’s a good idea to learn how to do the same thing by using different approaches. This approach is actually very similar to some of the others I’ve shared, but there are a few key differences. I’ll share those difference below.
This post is going to be about minimizing the appearance of wrinkles on the face, not removing them entirely. I think we can all admit that over a certain age, we’re all going to have wrinkles. In photography, the lighting can sometimes make those wrinkles stand out in a way that doesn’t look natural or very appealing (this is true even for younger people). As photo editors, it’s our job to help folks look their best while keeping any photograph we touch as realistic looking as possible.
In today’s post, I’ll be using an image of an older gentleman. In the photo, there are some wrinkles on the man’s face. Nothing too deep or awkward looking – just regular wrinkles. What I’m going to do is use the Healing Brush Tool and a new layer that sits on top of the photo layer to paint away the wrinkles. Then, I’ll adjust the opacity of the top layer so any changes I make blend right in with the image layer below. It really is a rather simple trick to learn, so let’s get on with it.
Today’s Demo Photo
This is the photo I’ll be using for today’s post. To keep things simple, I think I’ll primarily focus on the wrinkles on the forehead, under the eyes and around the mouth (the smile lines). Those are the ones that stand out the most to me. If you have your own photo you’d like to work on in a similar way in the future, just take the concept of what I’m doing here and apply it to your image.
Using the Healing Brush Tool
I’ll be using the same principles I already discussed in the post I wrote about the Healing Brush Tool in this post. So, to avoid writing the same thing twice, I’ll be pointing you to that previous post and only be touching on the specifics of the tool today. If you’d like to learn all about the Healing Brush Tool, please click the link below and enjoy.
In general, the healing brush works like this; you activate the tool, find an area that you can use as a source and then paint over whatever it is that you’d like to “heal” with the brush. Of course, there are a few more minor details that need to be considered, but that’s really it. So think about it this way. If you had a photo from above of some train tracks and you wanted to paint one of the tracks on top of the other track to “heal” the one you’d be painting over, you would hold down the Alt key on your keyboard and click on the “source” track. This is the track you’ll be pulling from. Then, once that area is in Photoshop’s memory, all you would need to do is click and paint over the other track just the same way you’d paint over anything else. The thing you need to be most careful of is the movement of the source area. The reason I used train tracks in the example I just gave was because train tracks run in parallel. So does the Healing Brush Tool (if the Align option is checked). If you were to take a source sample and then brush in circles, the source would brush in circles as well. If you experiment with this tool, you’ll see that there is a ghost source mouse pointer that runs in tandem with the painting brush. Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy to understand once you start using the tool.
The first thing I’m going to do for this project, since the image is already opened up in Photoshop, is to create a new layer that will sit on top of the background layer. To do this, I’ll click the Create New Layer button that sits at the bottom of the Layers panel. This is what the layers will look like when I do this.
After that, I’ll head over to the left toolbar and I’ll click on the Healing Brush Tool to activate it.
Directly after that, I’ll size the brush up in the options bar and I’ll be sure to give it some soft edges. Then, and this is the most important thing, I’ll make sure the All Layers option is selected in the Sample drop-down box. Since I’ll be doing the painting on an empty layer, it’s important that this option is selected because I’ll need to sample the layer underneath. In this case, I’ll also check the Align option that’s to the left of the Sample drop-down because I want to take advantage of the color gradients on this man’s skin. If I didn’t have the sample brush track the painting brush, things might look a little weird.
Once everything is all set, I’ll take a sample of an area directly above the left eyebrow by holding the Alt key down and clicking with my mouse. After that, I’ll paint over the wrinkle above the left eye.
Inside of the red circle is the area I just worked on. Next, I’ll go ahead and do the same thing over the areas I discussed previously. Here’s the result of that. Again, I’m not going overboard here. I’m merely doing this as an example of how the process works.
You can definitely see how the wrinkles have disappeared.
Minimizing the Wrinkles, Not Removing Them
The goal now is to actually bring some of the wrinkles back. If I were to keep the photo as it is, I don’t think I’d be helping this gentleman at all. In reality, he does have the wrinkles on his face, so I don’t want to remove them completely.
To lessen the effect of my corrections, I’ll simply head over to the Opacity slider in the Layers panel and push it to the left until it reaches 50%. Doing this does a great job at keeping a less dramatic wrinkle. It allows the wrinkle to appear, but it removes the darkness or severity of them.
And here is the final photo.
I think it looks pretty good. Photo editors for magazines do this kind of thing all day long.
The Lighten Blending Mode
There is one final tweak that one can make with projects such as this and this tweak can make a huge difference when working with troublesome images. If I were to apply the Lighten blending mode to the top layer, any pixels that are darker on the top layer than they are on the bottom layer would be removed. Conversely stated, only the lighter pixels on the top layer are kept when this blending mode is used. This is important because in cases like this, we’re trying to get rid of the darkness in the areas we paint.
“The Lighten Blending Mode takes a look at the base color and blend color, and it keeps whichever one of the two is the lightest. If the blend colors and the base colors are the same, then no change is applied. As with the Darken Blending Mode, Lighten looks at the three RGB channels separately when blending the pixels.”
And that’s it! That’s all there is to it.
I hope I clearly explained how to minimize the appearance of wrinkles on someone’s face. If you have any questions regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!