The Adjustment Brush tool allows you to make specific corrections and enhancements to areas of your image. The brush was created around the features that photographers use most to "paint in" effects quickly. One of these effects is skin softening, and the Adjustment Brush tool now has a built-in preset to make it happen.
- Select the Adjustment Brush tool from the tool strip or press the K key.
- Click the Effect pop-up menu and choose Soften Skin (see Figure 9). This setting lowers the Clarity amount to -100 and increases Sharpness to 25. Think of these numbers as a good starting point. The actual amount you need depends on the image quality, the lighting conditions (hard light sources require more softening than soft, diffused light sources), and the amount and variation of skin texture.
Figure 9 The Adjustment Brush tool now includes a built-in skin-softening effect option.
- Choose a small brush size. I find that a brush about the size of the entire eye works well.
- Increase the Feather amount to 100. Decrease the Flow amount to somewhere between 10 and 30.
- With the brush controls set, paint back and forth over the areas of skin that need to be smoothed. Don't overdo the effect or you'll have an unnatural look that detracts from the overall image (see Figure 10).
Figure 10 The best skin-softening results are subtle. Over-softening draws the viewer's attention to the retouching rather than the subject.