Mirrors may not lie, but with a little digital plastic surgery in Adobe Photoshop CS5, portraits can tell a gentle fib or two about their subjects' ages. Photoshop's image-editing toolkit makes it easy to deduct a decade along with a double chin. With a careful hand, an observant eye and a few techniques, you can make your edits flattering and believable, rolling back the calendar to put a youthful polish on portraits of friends and family.
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Launch Adobe Photoshop CS5. Choose "Open" from the "File" menu and navigate to the location of your portrait file.
Press the "F" key on your keyboard to display the file, full screen against a neutral grey background. Choose the "Zoom" tool from the toolbox or press the "Z" key on your keyboard. Click in the file display window to zoom in on your image until you can see facial details clearly.
Choose the "Marquee" tool from the toolbox or press the "M" key on your keyboard. Click and drag with your pointing device to create a selection that ranges from above the eyebrows to below the collarbone and beyond each ear.
Copy your selected area by choosing "Copy" from the "Edit" menu or pressing "Control + C" (Windows) or "Command + C" (Mac) on your keyboard. Paste your selection onto a new layer by choosing "Paste" from the "Edit" menu or pressing "Control + P" (Windows) or "Command + P" (Mac) on your keyboard.
Open the "Layers" panel by choosing "Layers" from the "Window" menu or pressing the "F7" key on your keyboard. Hold down the "Control" (Windows) or "Command" (Mac) key and click with your pointing device on the layer icon for the layer that contains the part of your portrait subject's face that you copied and pasted.
Choose "Liquify" from the "Filter" menu to bring up the "Liquify" dialogue box on your screen. Choose a large brush size and a low brush pressure from the "Tool Options" of the "Liquify" dialogue box. Select the "Forward Warp" brush, the topmost tool at the left of the "Liquify" dialogue box. Gently press upward and inward on your portrait subject's neck to sculpt away the area that forms the double chin. Click "OK" in the "Liquify" dialogue box when you are satisfied with your results.
Use other Photoshop retouching tools as needed to conceal any artefacts that result from the "Liquify" filter. You may need to use the "Clone Stamp" or "Healing Brush" tool to tidy up your "Liquify" results. Add a new layer to your file for any additional retouching so you can adjust it separately from the rest of your file.
Check the portrait for strong wrinkles and lines you can smooth to enhance the youthfulness you've added with the "Liquify" filter. Create a new layer that contains the sum of all the layers in your file by clicking once on the topmost layer in the "Layers" panel and pressing "Shift + Control + Alt + E" (Windows) or "Shift + Command + Option + E" (Mac).
Choose "Dust & Scratches" from the "Filter" menu. Set the "Threshold" higher than the "Radius" and adjust each value until your portrait subject's lines soften but the significant details of the face remain sharp. Click the "OK" button when you are satisfied with your results. Experiment with the opacity of this layer by reducing the opacity value in the "Layers" panel until the softened layer blends in.
Save your file in Photoshop format by choosing "Save As..." from the "File" menu or pressing "Shift + Control + S" (Windows) or "Shift + Command + S" (Mac) and setting the "Format" pop-up to "Photoshop."
Tips and warnings
- Use relatively hard-edged brushes when you work with the "Healing Brush" tool to avoid soft, smeared spots in your image.
- Always duplicate your image layer or the relevant parts of it before you begin an in-depth retouching task so you can discard your edits if you're not pleased with them.
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