Basic Retouching and Color Correction Techniques in Photoshop

Regardless of the changes in software versions or trends, basic retouching, and color correction techniques remain timeless skills for any Photoshop user. This tutorial will show a simple process to enhance a portrait photo:


  1. Adobe Photoshop (any version should suffice for this tutorial).
  2. A portrait photo to work on.


1. Open The Image

  • Launch Photoshop.
  • Click on File -> Open and select the portrait photo.

2. Duplicate the Background Layer

  • In the Layers panel, right-click on the Background layer and choose Duplicate Layer. Name it Retouch.

3. Basic Spot Healing

  • Select the Spot Healing Brush Tool from the toolbox.
  • Choose a soft-edged brush and set the type to Content-Aware.
  • Gently click or brush over blemishes, spots, or any other unwanted imperfections to remove them.

4. Softening the Skin

  • Duplicate the Retouch layer and name the new layer Soft Skin.
  • Choose the Filter menu -> Blur -> Surface Blur.
  • Adjust the Radius and Threshold sliders to soften the skin without losing too much detail. Typically, a Radius between 10-30 pixels and a Threshold between 10-15 levels works well.
  • Add a layer mask to the Soft Skin layer by clicking on the Add Layer Mask button at the bottom of the Layers panel.
  • With a soft black brush, paint over the eyes, mouth, nostrils, and any areas with sharp details to reveal the sharpness from the layer below.

5. Color Correction

  • Click on the Retouch layer.
  • Select Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Curves. Name it Color Correct.
  • Adjust the RGB curve slightly to increase the contrast, or tweak the individual Red, Green, and Blue curves to balance the colors if needed.

6. Brightening the Eyes

  • Create a new layer and name it Bright Eyes.
  • Select a soft-edged brush, set its opacity to about 20%, and choose a white color.
  • Gently paint over the irises to brighten the eyes.
  • Adjust the layer's opacity if the effect is too strong.

7. Sharpening

  • Select the topmost layer.
  • Merge all visible layers by choosing Layer -> Merge Visible.
  • Duplicate the merged layer and name it Sharpen.
  • Go to Filter -> Other -> High Pass. A Radius of 1-3 pixels should be enough.
  • Change the blending mode of the Sharpen layer to Overlay or Soft Light (choose whichever looks best).

8. Final Adjustments

  • If needed, add more adjustment layers like Brightness/Contrast, Hue/Saturation, or Vibrance to fine-tune the image.

9. Save The Image

  • Go to File -> Save As and choose the desired format, typically JPEG or TIFF for high-quality outputs.


The techniques shown above are timeless and can be applied to any version of Photoshop. The essence is to enhance the photo while retaining its natural look. Remember, subtlety is the key, it's always better to make small, incremental changes rather than drastic ones. As always, with practice, one can develop a sense of the perfect balance.

Suggested Articles
Beginner's Guide to Editing Images in Photoshop
How to Achieve Success in Photoshop
What is PSD File Format?
How AI Will Affect Photoshop?
Introduction to Photoshop
Black and White Photo Coloring in Photoshop
Converting Photos into Oil Paintings in Photoshop