There’s realism, and then there are wrinkles. When we edit a portrait, we aim to make the subject look vibrant and authentic. We are not trying to smooth the model’s skin to make it as smooth as a newborn.
In this demonstration of Adobe Photoshop’s Clone Stamp tool, we will work on separate layers as we smooth out some wrinkles. That way, if the effect looks unnatural or exaggerated, we can easily make adjustments to turn it down. Here’s the image we’re starting with:
To start, create a New Layer and name it Eyes and Cheeks. Select the Clone Stamp Tool and set the Opacity to about 75%. Make sure the Sample setting on the Properties bar is set to All Layers so the clone source samples all the layers.
Use Option + Click (Mac) or Alt + Click (Windows) to select the areas to clone. Then click on the areas with the wrinkles and shadows (especially under the eyes) to create a smoother appearance. Since the goal is to lighten and smooth out the eye area, pick up some of the lighter tones just under the eyes and the cheeks where the skin is less wrinkled.
Using that same technique, remove the harsh shadows adjacent to the mouth and nose. Once you have cloned away all the shadows, the photograph is going to look very artificial.
Lower the Opacity of the Eyes and Cheeks layer to about 50% to bring back the texture to the skin. As you can see, this alone lightens the face and brings attention back to the eyes as opposed to under them.
Create another new layer and name it Wrinkles. Pick the Healing Brush and again make sure you have the Sample set to All Layers. Painting on your Wrinkles layer, use a medium soft brush to paint away all the harsh, deep wrinkles.
Again, the effects are going to look a bit artificial when you are done painting, but lowering the Opacity of the layer down to about 70% will bring back a hint of texture without bringing the deep shadows back.
At this point we have removed enough of the deeper wrinkles without going too far and making the client look artificial.
That’s it! With a few simple steps and no surgeries or makeup needed, we have introduced our model to the fountain of youth!