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Like this article? We recommend Perfecting the Refinement Masks

Perfecting the Refinement Masks

Each time Perfect Portrait detects a face, it generates a mask for three areas: the skin, the eyes, and the mouth. While the plugin is often pretty good at masking out a person’s hair or clothes, it’s not always 100% precise. For this reason, I like to go through each mask and tweak it before making changes to the portrait.

The first step is to enable mask visibility. Do this by pressing Cmd-M (Mac) or Ctrl-M (PC). Afterward, you can use the Skin Refine Brush, Eye Refine Brush, and Mouth Refine Brush to display the mask for that particular area of the face. Note that you can display the mask for each region only when that tool is selected, and all three of the related panels must be switched to On.

Next, open the Faces panel and the Skin Retouching panels to view the default face settings. Here there is only one face in the photograph, but if you had more than one person in a shot, you could create a layer for each face using the Faces panel and the Face (selection) Tool (first item in the Toolbar). Starting with the largest area first, click the Skin Refine Brush to display that specific mask (Figure 2).

Figure 2 It’s a good idea to look at the default masks (there are three) before you begin retouching a portrait.

Here we can see that Perfect Portrait did a decent job of finding the boundaries of the face, but it included some hair in the default mask, and also left some small areas around the eyes and mouth to be tweaked. Remember: Each area has its own mask and editing controls!

To modify a mask region, choose the brush for that particular area (Skin Refine, Eye Refine, or Mouth Refine), then open the Inspector (I) and choose the Painting Mode. Choosing the Paint In mode will exclude pixels from the mask, while Paint Out mode will add parts of a face to the mask. Finally, zoom in and set your brush size and feather parameters as needed (standard Photoshop shortcuts apply to all three functions). Figure 3 shows the Inspector options for the Skin Retouch brush.

Figure 3 The Skin Retouch brush options.

In Figures 4 and 5, you can see what the eyes and mouth masks looked like, after I used the Eye Refine Brush and Mouth Refine Brush to activate those regions and modify their masks. When you’re finished with the masking tweaks, just press Cmd-M or Ctrl-M again to exit masking mode and begin making your edits. If you prefer, you can also view the mask as black and white instead of an overlay, by choosing that option from the Inspector.

Figure 4 The eye retouching mask, after modifications.

Figure 5 The mouth retouching mask, after modifications.

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