In all of Adobe Photoshop's 30 years of existence, there was never a quick and dedicated method for skin softening... until now.
More traditionally, there were complex methods you'd have to follow in order to correct and improve skin tone. For example, softening and removing blemishes using the popular frequency separation method, or using a combination of sharpening filters, blur filters and masks in order to get your desired effect.
Here's one way:
- Layer > duplicate layer (repeat twice in order to get three layers of your original image).
- Select top layer, Filter > Other > High Pass Filter.
- Select a radius of around 1.5 pixels. In the layers panel, change the Blend Mode of the High Pass layer to Hard Light.
- Select the middle layer, Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur > select a radius of around 20 pixels.
- Same layer, Filter > Noise > Median > select a radius of around 20 pixels.
- On the middle layer, Layer > Layer Mask > Add Mask.
- Click on the mask in the layers panel, and invert the mask by holding Command + I on Mac (or Control + I on Windows).
- Then, with a soft brush at full opacity and white as your foreground colour, brush over the area of the image you wish to "soften" such as the skin.
- Once satisfied, adjust the amount or intensity of blur you want on the skin by reducing the opacity of the entire middle layer.
So, clearly something had to be done by Adobe in order to simplify this lengthy and cumbersome process. Even mobile apps such as Instagram and Snapchat offered far more efficient methods! And that's exactly what Adobe has done by implementing a Beta neural filter simply called Skin Softening.
In Filter > Neural Filters > Skin Softening, you'll find two sliders. One is called Blur which, if reduced, reveals more skin texture and sharpening, and if increased, reduces skin sharpening and texture. The other slider called Smoothness, if increased, blends and neutralises skin tone to make it appear more even.
This entire process drastically reduces editing time, and delivers a non-destructive result (if combined with the use of layer masks) that greatly resembles the above mentioned "frequency separation" skin editing method.
Take a look at the video below by the YouTube channel, PiX Imperfect, on Photoshop's New In-Built Skin Softening Any Good?...