Skin Retouching – Remove Sunburn using Photoshop

Sunburn is a common problem in summertime. Don’t let it ruin your portrait photos – learn how to remove sunburn using the simple tips shared in this video. You don’t have to put up with difficult patches of colour on skin; it can be retouched out in Photoshop. Sometimes one tool will do the job. Other times a combination approach is needed. We look at how the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer can help with simpler cases. We then also look at a method of recolouring the skin. Finally we see how everything can be blended together using frequency separation.

Our sample image is of model Anna Petrova and was shot on the Norfolk coast in the UK. Here is the final image after the brief edit shown in the video:

Skin Retouching - Remove Sunburn using Photoshop - sample final image

As you can see, you don’t need to put up with mismatching skin tones. You can simply remove sunburn using Photoshop as part of your overall skin retouching process. If the sunburn is old and has started flaking then you will need to edit the skin texture as well. To do this, use tools such as frequency separation (covered elsewhere). Lightening and darkening the skin can also be done as part of dodging and burning your portraits. I generally like to have a fair bit of contrast in my images and also like to keep the skin texture fairly close to the original. You could, of course, choose to smooth the skin much more. These things are all down to personal taste.

So, to recap:

  • You can try using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, lowering the saturation of the reds and masking this onto the affected parts of the skin
  • You can use a blank new layer to paint skin tones onto at a low opacity by sampling from “good” tones
  • Use the colour blend mode for the above method to avoid a very blurry finish
  • Use frequency separation to tidy up the tones

© Joe Lenton, May 2017

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