FREE: Realistic Skin Smoothing Photoshop Action

Photoshop skin retouching – the good, the bad, and the downright scary! One of the most challenging aspects of retouching portraits is maintaining a natural appearance when retouching skin. It’s easy to blur skin, but that looks far from natural. I’ve even seen some methods of blurring out the skin to smooth it, and then creating a faux texture to add over top of the blurred skin!

The secret to successful skin softening in Photoshop is to blend any uneven tones in the skin while still retaining the original skin texture. This means blurring the skin is out of the question – sort of. We need to blur the skin tones without affecting the texture of the skin. Possible? Absolutely!

In the following video, I demonstrate our free PhotographyBB Portrait Magic Lite Photoshop Action, which performs a beautiful skin smoothing process while still retaining all-natural skin detail and the texture of the skin. The result is gorgeous and easy to customize for a variety of different looks and levels of smoothing, and is all accomplished in ONE SINGLE CLICK. View the video demo to see Portrait Magic Lite in action (no pun intended!), and then download your free copy below!

FREE ACTION: Portrait Magic Lite

This free Action for Photoshop will allow you to perform a realistic skin smoothing effect in one simple click. All layers are left un-flattened to allow for greater adjustment and control. Enjoy!



About the author

Dave Seeram is the Editor of PhotographyBB Magazine, photographer, Canucks fan, Lostie,  fanboy, Dad, blogger, entrepreneur, and part-time superhero. Dave is the owner of this blog, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the PhotographyBB Magazine and CLARITY: PHOTOGRAPHY BEYOND THE CAMERA
25 Responses
    1. Mary

      I figured out how to add a black mask and paint on white to allow it to shine through. However, is there a way to have one mask that will impact both the details and smoothness layers without having to create a separate mask for each? Sorry, I am new to PS. I love your action though!

      1. Dave

        Excellent question Mary. The answer is… sort of. You can create the entire mask on one of those layers, and then just easily copy and apply it to the other layer by holding down the option key (Mac) or Alt key (PC) while dragging it to the other layer. That will basically duplicate it to the layer you are dragging it to. 🙂

    2. Dave

      Great question! We’ve actually created a mask automatically so that this only gets applied to skin tones in the image. You can either delete that mask, or refine it to your liking by paining either black/white to best suit your image. 🙂

  1. Mary

    I am so sorry for the questions. Why does it create a copy of my image instead of working off the original? I really don’t want to have an extra copy. Is there a way to stop that part?

    1. Dave

      Hi Mary,

      No problem at all! I’m glad you are finding a good use for this Action. It creates a duplicate because we strongly believe in not altering original image files. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve accidentally saved over an original file when doing a quick edit or testing some effects out. This way, the original file will always remain intact.

      If you really wish to turn that feature off, you can open the action steps in the action panel (just click on the little “>” to the left of the Action’s name), and UNcheck the checkmark beside the first step that says “Duplicate first document”. That will turn off the step that creates a duplicate file. Use with caution!

      Thanks again and have fun with it!

  2. Amy

    Im not seeing the download after clicking the button and filling in the form. It wasn’t emailed or on the thank you page. Is this still available? Thanks!

    1. Dave

      Hi Amy!

      It should have been emailed to you after you filled in the form. Could you double-check your email account’s junk/spam folder (or the Promoted tab in gmail)… often these types of auto-emails get inadvertently directed there by mistake. Let me know! 🙂

    1. Dave

      Thanks so much for the feedback! Currently just the Photoshop version, but I’m working on some Lightroom Presets. Stay tuned! 🙂

    1. Dave

      Hi Peet,

      Thanks for the feedback. I’ve just tested it on a few images on the most current Photoshop update (2017.0.0) and I am not getting any errors or issues. Could you describe what’s happening on your end? Thanks!

  3. Jeff

    Great action, thank you very much!

    One question: It applies the surface blur and high pass filters to the entire image, which means I have to go back and mask out hair, eyes, and any non-skin tone elements I don’t want those filters applied to. I saw in a previous comment that addressed the same issue where you replied saying, “We’ve actually created a mask automatically so that this only gets applied to skin tones in the image”, but I’m not seeing this mask. Am I missing something?

    Thanks again!

    1. Dave

      Hi Jeff,

      Thank you for the kind words and also for your question. Once the action has run, you should see a mask on the Smoothness Layer directly under it as a “Smart Filter.” I’m unable to insert a screenshot into this reply, but if you navigate to 3:26 in the video above, you can see the black & white thumbnail, labelled as “Smart Filters” under the Smoothness Layer. You can click on that thumbnail and then paint with a white brush to reveal more smoothness or black brush to hide smoothness in those areas.

      Let me know if that helps!

      Thanks again!

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