How to Airbrush Pictures in CS5

Updated April 17, 2017

You can add a professional look to your portrait images by using the airbrush technique for facial and skin enhancements. There are many times a portrait may be photographed quite well but will need smoothing and make-up adjustments to make it an even better image. You can use the Photoshop brush combined with layers to blend the tone and surface quality of the skin, enhancing the original image to a much higher quality. You can eliminate blemishes, uneven skin tones and slight imperfections to elevate your image to a much higher level in appearance quality.

Open your copy of Photoshop CS5 and bring your image into the work area. Select "Mode" from the "Image" tab on the main menu and select "RGB Color" and "8 Bits/Channel."

Create a new layer by dragging the background layer in the Layers panel to the "Create New Layers" icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. The new layer is now titled "Background copy" and this will be the layer you will use.

Choose "Surface Blur..." from the "Blur" selection of the "Filter" tab on the main menu. The "Surface Blur" dialogue window appears. Type the number 8 for the "Radius" and the number 16 for the threshold and click "OK." Your image now has a very smooth surface.

Choose "Hide All" from the "Layer Mask" drop-down selection of the "Filter" tab on the main menu. This will hide the change you just made in Step 3 so that you can selectively airbrush your image in the spot locations you choose.

Select the Brush Tool from the "Tools" menu and from the keyboard hit "D" to choose the default foreground and background colours of white and black. Make the size of the brush 35 pixels and set the Hardness and Softness indicator to 50 per cent. On the Brush palette, click the "Enable Airbrush" icon, which is the second from the right, to simulate and apply an actual airbrush. Apply the Brush Tool to the areas of the skin that you want softened.

Continue using this technique, varying the Hardness and Softness indicator until you find a setting with which you are comfortable.

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About the Author

Charles Carswell has worked as a technical writer/programmer and illustrator for many fortune 500 companies since 1980. Currently he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in management information systems and certificates in graphics and photography.