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How to Retouch Portraits: Advanced Portrait Retouching Part I in Lightroom 3

By Pye Jirsa on July 8th 2011


(The Lightroom video tutorial in this post is just under the introductory text below. The working files for this Lightroom video tutorial can be found just above the video. So that we can keep on providing free paid-quality content, please share these videos and raise awareness of SLR Lounge by Facebooking or Tweeting the site and articles, thank you!)

Retouching portraits in Lightroom? Yes, that’s right, you heard correctly. In fact, Lightroom’s Local Area Adjustments including the Spot Removal Tool and Adjustment Brush Tool are extremely powerful when it comes to retouching portraits. In fact, more often then not, you can take care of 90% of your retouching work right in Lightroom.

In this Lightroom video tutorial, we are going to work through retouching an entire close up portrait of yours truly. We will be removing blemishes, smoothing skin, brightening eyes and even healing out eye bags.

Why a self-portrait you ask? Well, because I wanted to use an image that required a lot of work, to better help you all learn. However, I couldn’t see any clients with images needing heavy retouching being happy that there images were used for this tutorial (despite having signed model releases).

So, for this tutorial which is Part I in the How to Retouch Portraits tutorial set, we will work on my self portrait. In the next tutorial, we will use the same techniques we learn here (along with a couple of new techniques) and apply it to an actual professional shot of one of our beautiful models.

To see all Before and After versions of each image from this tutorial, please visit the Photo Album on the SLR Lounge Facebook Page.


Exercise File Download Links:

Note: These images have been provided to the SLR Lounge users curteousy of Lin and Jirsa Photography for educational purposes only. They may not be used in any other manner outside of these SLR Lounge learning videos without the express written consent of Lin and Jirsa Photography. Thank you.

Full RAW Exercise Files (265MB) – For faster connections. The full RAW files will allow you to follow the tutorials while achieving the exact same results as shown.
JPEG Exercise Files (24MB) – For slower connections. The JPEG files will allow you to follow the tutorials, although the results may vary due to not having the image details of the full RAW file.

Related Product Offers Recommended by SLR Lounge

1) Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 – As of April 4, 2011 – Among the larger reputable dealers, the lowest price we found for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 is $236.99 (Free Shipping) through Amazon. Click any of these links to take you to the offer.

Click here to purchase Adobe Lightroom 3 from

2) Student and Teacher Editions of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 – For teachers and students, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 is available for $89 through the Adobe Educational Purchasing Site.

Post Production Pye
SLR Lounge Senior Editor
Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Mahmuda Hamid

    Advanced retouching tutorial. Excellent.

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  2. Garu

    Really like your tutorials. Tried to download the Exercise Files, but was unable to.


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  3. Holly

    Loving your videos for LR portrait adjustments, but it’s very difficult to see the exact setting in the video (i.e. for the skin softer brush), could you please note the settings you used? Also, if you hit a key command (i.e. show mask) could you please note what that key command is? Thank you!!

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    • Pye

      Holly, turn the resolution of the video up to full HD and run full screen, should be easy to see at that size/resolution. For keyboard commands, we don’t list commands that were in previous videos in the Lightroom series because it can get repetitive. Instead, we just say them out loud. I would recommend just replaying the video, or watching the full Lightroom series to master all the keyboard commands. Hope this helps ;) 

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    • Holly

      Ah! Didn’t realize I could do that, that makes all the difference! Thank  you!

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