Part one of this three-part series on Portrait retouching with Luminar showed how to enhance eyes and facial features. The second part of this series is showing how to smooth skin, sculpture the face and remove blemishes. To smooth a subject’s skin, we are going to add the Orton Effect filter. This filter is unique to Luminar. It applies enhancements to an image that includes glow and focus which produces photos that are sharp and blurry at the same time. Sharp and blurry at the same time? Yup, think of it as the sweet and sour sauce we all love. It will add a unique look to our image. To draw the focus to the subject’s face, we will sculpture the subject’s face with the Dodge & Burn filter. Last, to remove blemishes, we will use the amazing Erase tool. Let’s get started!  

Globally Applying the Orton Effect Filter

There are many ways to smooth a subject’s skin. Some are very quick and will yield good results while others that take a longer time—such as Frequency Separation—will yield better results. Our goal is to find a happy medium. This is where the Orton Effect filter really shines. We will add this filter to a new adjustment layer by clicking the + icon in the Layers Toolbar then select the Orton Filter from the Creative category. Adjusting the settings will apply the filter to the entire image. We will use a filter mask to selectively apply the effect to the skin, so focus only on the skin and ignore the rest. There are two options: Type 1 and Type 2. For this image, I like how Type 1 looks with the amount set to 50, softness to 15 and brightness at 9. We can leave the contrast set to the default value of 15, but change the saturation to a -30. This will tone down some of the glow colors the effect applied.

Selectively Apply the Effect to Skin and Hair

Using a filter brush, set the brush opacity to 100% and choose Paint. Use the left and right bracket keys [ ] to increase or decrease the brush size. Paint over the skin to apply the skin-softening effect. Be careful not to paint over the eyes, lips, eyebrows, and nostrils. If this happens, change the brush from paint to erase. Change the opacity to 75% and apply the effect to the hair. Use the mask visibility icon as a guide to see where you are applying the effect. The ruby red color shows where the mask is being applied and the strength. A darker color represents a strong effect where a lighter red color represents a weaker effect. Select “done” when finished masking.

Sculpture the Face

To focus attention on the subject’s face, we are going to use the traditional dodge and burn technique to outline the subject’s face. Luminar made this easy for us by creating a Dodge and Burn filter. Create a new adjustment layer—click the + icon in the Layers Toolbar and select Add New Adjustment Layer—and add the Dodge & Burn filter from the Professional category. Click on Start Painting and choose Darken at 100%. We purposely are over applying the burn effect so we can have a reference while sculpting the face. Choose a medium-size brush and outline the subject’s face. Increase the brush size, select Erase and blend the effect. Click “done” when finished. The effect is way overdone, but this is why we applied it on its own adjustment layer. Lower the layer’s opacity to 0 then slightly increase it until you have the desired result. A small amount of 25–30% works well. The effect should be subtle.

Remove Blemishes

This is an image of a child with no blemishes on his face—a bad example. However, I can still teach the concept of blemish removal by fixing a distracting element on his glove. This concept will work for blemishes as well as a strand of hair across a subject’s face. The concept is simple—apply the Erase tool on a new adjustment layer, then adjust the opacity to blend in the effect. This will make wrinkles or bags under eyes look more realistic. Create a new adjustment layer and select Erase from the Tool drop-down menu. Adjust the brush size and paint over the distraction. A red mask will automatically appear. Click Erase to apply the effect and “done” when finished. The results are amazing! If this were wrinkles, lowering the Erased image layer’s opacity will lightly bring back the wrinkles, making the edit look natural.

Portrait Retouching with Luminar is a three-part series: Enhancing Eyes and Facial Features; Smoothing Skin, Sculpting the Face and Removing Blemishes; and Adding a Finishing Touch.