Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Creative Suite

Scott Kelby on Photoshop for Lightroom Users: Retouching Portraits

In this chapter from Photoshop for Lightroom Users, Scott Kelby shows you how to do simple photo retouching in Lightroom, and then shows you more advanced retouching techniques in Photoshop.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

I had it made when it came to naming this chapter because when I typed the word “retouch” into the iTunes Store’s Search Store field, I not only found songs named “Retouch,” but it brought up an artist named “Re-touch,” as well. So, I decided to go with that one, since it wasn’t so obvious. Plus, once I previewed a few of his tracks, I realized there was no way he was paying his mortgage with income from his music career, so maybe this mention will give him some kind of boost. Okay, I’m just kidding, his music is actually pretty good—especially if you like bass drum. I mean, really, really like bass drum for long extended periods of time, and you like it followed by layering weird synthesizer sounds. If that sounds like a dig, it’s not because there are a lot of remixes of Re-touch’s tunes by everybody from Tom Novy to Goldie-Lox to Overnoise, which alone is pretty impressive (I have no idea who those people are, but it’s only because I am very old and these tunes are probably played well after the Early Bird Special ends at Denny’s, so I would’ve missed them, but I’m sure if they played these def tracks at Denny’s around my dinner time [around 4:30 p.m.], there would be plenty of dentures just a-clackin’ away. We call that “crack-a-lackin’,” but that’s just because we’re so “street.” Ball ‘til ya fall, homies!). Anyway, just to circle back around for a moment, you can actually do some minor retouching right within Lightroom itself, and I cover that here at the start of this chapter, but for more serious stuff, you’ve got to jump over to Photoshop because it was born for this stuff. Now, Adobe has done a number of studies, using select focus groups across a wide range of demographics, and these studies have revealed that high-end professional retouchers using Photoshop can increase not only their productivity, but the realism of their retouching by putting on noise-canceling headphones and listening to a long bass drum track followed by layered weird synthesizer sounds, and then mentally picturing themselves at Denny’s. I am not making this up. Google it. You’ll see.

Retouching in Lightroom

There are a lot of simple retouches we can do in Lightroom’s Develop module, but they are usually about making something lighter or darker (like darkening your subject’s eyebrows by painting over them with the Adjustment Brush with just the Exposure lowered) or removing something simple. I cover some of the most popular Lightroom retouches right here (including reducing wrinkles and slimming), but there’s only so much you can do in Lightroom. That’s okay, that’s why there’s Photoshop. But, first, a little Lightroom.


For example, to brighten the whites of the eyes right within Lightroom, we click on the Adjustment Brush (K) in the toolbar at the top of the right-side panels, double-click on the word “Effect” to reset all the sliders to zero, then click-and-drag the Exposure slider to the right a little bit. Now, we zoom in tight on the eyes, and then paint over the whites to brighten them. Just be careful not to make them too white or it looks very obvious that they’ve been retouched.


Another nice retouch to the eyes uses the same settings you just applied to the whites of eyes, but this time you’re going to add a little “kicker” to the bottom of the iris. Click on the New button at the top of the Adjustment Brush options, and paint over just the bottom of each iris, avoiding the dark ring around the outside of them. Once you’re done, you can decide how bright you want your subject’s irises to be using the Exposure slider (it won’t affect the whites of the eyes because you clicked the New button first).


Granted, it’s not great skin softening because it pretty much blurs any skin texture, but it does help. Here’s how it’s done: Get the Adjustment Brush, double-click on the word “Effect” to reset all the sliders to zero, then click-and-drag the Clarity slider all the way to the left to –100. Now, paint over just the skin, avoiding any detail areas (like the eyes, eyebrows, lips, hair, nostrils, edges of the face, clothes, etc.), and those areas become very soft. Of course, we can do much better in Photoshop, but at least you can do some quick softening right in Lightroom, as long as your goal is speed over quality.


If your subject is a little bit older, then you don’t want to remove their wrinkles (it’ll be a dead giveaway it was retouched, especially to their friends). Instead, you want to reduce their wrinkles, so they look 10 years younger (not 40 years younger). Get the Spot Removal tool (Q) from the toolbar and paint a stroke over an individual wrinkle, so it’s totally gone. Then, go to the Spot Removal tool’s options and lower the Opacity to bring back most, but not all, of the original wrinkle. That way, you reduce it, rather than remove it.


In Lightroom 5, Adobe added a lens correction feature we can use to instantly slim your subject, so they look 10 to 15 lbs. lighter. Go to the Lens Corrections panel, click on the Manual tab, and you’ll see the last Transform slider is Aspect. Click-and-drag this slider to the right a little bit (here I dragged it over to +38) and, as you do, it squeezes the photo in from the sides proportionally, and—voilà—your subject is thinner (the farther you drag, the thinner they get). Now, just crop the photo, so the white areas on both sides are gone.


Click to view larger image


Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020