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Mirror, Mirror, Off the Wall: Altering Reality with Photoshop

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So you'd like to bring the blush of youth back to your cheeks, whiten your smile, and squeeze your crow's feet into a size five again? Photoshop can improve your image. I'm afraid it can't do much for your shallow personality and obsession with superficial appearances, though. Step up for a facelift with no scars, no pain, and — best of all — no outrageous medical fees.
This chapter is from the book

Project 1: A Younger You in Minutes

The middle-aged woman in Figure 3.1 will get some rejuvenation. You can work with a photo of yourself, your mom, your wife, or Martha Stewart.

Figure 3.1Figure 3.1 Before treatment, but after signing away her right to sue if anything goes wrong. (Photo courtesy of RubberBall.com.)

  1. Let's start by whitening her teeth. Zoom in on the smile. Choose the Dodge tool at the bottom of the Tools palette. Dodge still shares a room with Burn and Sponge, even though their punk rock band broke up years ago.

  2. Dodge has one function. It says "lighten up." Apply the Dodge tool to each tooth using a circular motion. Accept the default Range (Midtones). Adjust Exposure and brush size as needed. Figure 3.2 shows before and after, as well as the work of a crazed dental hygienist.

Figure 3.2Figure 3.2 Stop before you get to Stepford White.


You'll know when you've gone too far. Fortunately, Photoshop has numerous levels of Undo or History states so you can go back in time.

Blurring the lines

We can do quite a bit of "youthing" with the Blur tool. You'll find Blur shares office space with two other attorneys, Sharpen and Smudge.

  1. Apply the Blur tool to the crinkly areas of skin above and below the eye, and wherever just a little smoothing will help. Use Normal mode, 100% Strength, and a brush larger than the pupil of her eye but smaller than the iris. Figure 3.3 shows before and after.

  2. Figure 3.3Figure 3.3 Blurry vision.


    Blurring can't handle deep creases or crow's feet. The Spot Healing Brush will work wonders on those areas. This is an amazing tool! Its icon is a band-aid with a circular spot. Don't confuse it with its roommate, the Healing Brush (a spotless icon), which acts more like the Clone Stamp tool.

  3. Choose the Spot Healing Brush. Paint a stroke over the brow crease above the bridge of the nose. You'll see a marching ants selection in the shape of your stroke for a moment, then the stroke fills in to match the area around it. Work on the crow's feet, one crow toe at a time.

These images show the effects of a few well-placed strokes with the Spot Healing Brush. With Proximity Match as the Type option, this tool senses that the pixels you drag your stylus or mouse over differ from the surrounding pixels. That difference is corrected seamlessly. For best results, paint short strokes that follow the contour of the crease or other flaw you want to remove.

Worry lines gone.

No mo' crow.

May I Take Your Bags, Ma'am?

Time to handle the bags under her eyes. We'll use the standard Healing Brush for that, which is even more miraculous than the Spot Healing Brush.

  1. Switch to the standard Healing Brush. This tool requires that you specify source pixels from somewhere in the image, just like the Clone Stamp. Hold down the Option/Alt key and click near the highlight on her cheek to establish that as the source. Leave the Aligned option off.

  2. Paint a stroke or two along the crease under her eye, and watch as the years fall away.

Cheek Repair Time

Let's tackle the slight sagging of her cheek and that little fatty deposit starting to show between the corner of her mouth and the naso-labial fold.

  1. Choose the Clone Stamp tool. Hold down the modifier key (Option/Alt) as you click near the highlight of the cheek. Begin painting the shadow under the cheek. Change opacity, brush size, and source pixel as needed. Aligned should be turned off.

  2. A little practice and experimentation with the Clone Stamp and the Healing Brushes should enable you get the results shown in Figure 3.4.

Figure 3.4Figure 3.4 Keep smiling or your face could break.

Finish with the Lips

Plastic surgery is a lot like fine art—it's hard to know when you're finished. Before we let our patient leave the operating room, let's plump up those lips.

  1. Choose Filter, Distort, Liquify and zoom in so that the mouth fills the screen. Liquify is like a separate mini-application with its own Tools palette and Brush controls. The usual zoom and scroll controls are available.

  2. Find the Bloat tool (great name!) halfway down the toolbar and use a brush size slightly bigger than the width of her lip. Drag slowly across the lip to enlarge it evenly, as shown in Figure 3.5.

  3. Figure 3.5Figure 3.5 Lip service.

    If things don't go too badly, you should get something similar to Figure 3.6.

    Figure 3.6Figure 3.6 As good as a collagen injection.


    When you're working with Liquify things can go horribly wrong in a hurry. See Figure 3.7 for a fairly mild example of what could happen if you're not careful. Fortunately, there is a Reconstruct tool (third from the bottom on the toolbar) that allows you to paint back the original pixels wherever they are needed. Photoshop CS has a few additional Liquify tools and controls, such as the capability to "freeze" pixels to protect them from distortion.

    Figure 3.7Figure 3.7 Nurse, hand me the Reconstruct tool!

  4. Compare the original face to the youthified (youngered?) version in Figure 3.8.

Figure 3.8Figure 3.8 Dahling, you look mahvelous! New hairdo?

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