Using Brushes in Lightroom for Portrait Retouching

Brushes are one of the most powerful editing tools for Lightroom and for portraits extremely handy. As Adobe has added more and more features to the brushes features over the past few releases this has becomes a very useful tool. It gives us the ability to perform edits to our images on specific targeted sections of the image and is very handy for retouching. I covered using brushes to soften skin a little while back (read the full in depth article on Softening Skin in Lightroom here) and today want to show the full power of brushes when editing a portrait image.

Here is a quick review showcasing the power of brushes when applying them to a portrait image. From start to finish this only took me a minute to do and at the end you can see the before/after shot.

Here is the original image and i’ll walk through the few steps that I did to retouch it.
Lightroom portrait brush retouch

I’ll start on this image with a skin smooth brush to get rid of some of the blemishes and oily skin that everyone has. I am using a medium sized brush and giving one quick pass over the main skin areas of her face.

Lightroom portrait brush retouch2

Next I want to lighten the area around her eyes. There should have been a little fill flash for this shot so to compensate i’ll lighten up the areas around her eye just a little bit.

portrait brush retouch3

Now that you have the eyes a little lighter there is another brush I will use that will sharpen the eyes and give them a little more clarity. For this i’ll make the brush smaller to only get the area within the eye. See how much more those eyes pop now!

Lightroom portrait brush retouch

Finally i’ll brush on a little more color onto her lips.
portrait brush retouch5

In the end the I used one more brush to darken the edges of the image so the viewers attention is fully focused on the subject. Here is the side by side full image to compare. It’s not drastic but the retouching does make a huge difference and again was all done in under 1 minute! Click on the image to see it larger. This is just a small sample of the power you have with brushes in Lightroom.

Lightroom portrait brush retouch before and after

We also are going to have a great portrait brush preset pack coming out soon that includes the brushes I used in this example along with many more! So make sure to check back on the site later in the week or enter your email on the top right to get our newsletter updates!

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Author: Mark

Mark is a fine art wedding and portrait photographer from Northern California. He has been passionate about photography since childhood and started his studio 12 years ago to bring a fresh style of photography to the wedding and portrait world.

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