I’m really excited about the latest improvements in RawTherapee’s “Local adjustments” tool. So, I thought I could show here what can be made in “beauty retouch” or “skin smoothing”.
I took the open source Mairi portrait from this page as an example.
My starting point, after basic WB/exposure adjustment, is this:
The idea is to use the “Contrast by Detail Levels” (CbDL) filter, but locally to be sure that the effect will only affect the skin areas. Indeed, Mairi’s hair color is similar in hue as her skin tone, and using the general CbDL from the Detail tab will fail isolating the skin from hair (and it is not rare in a portrait that some colors in the background, hair or clothes are close to the skin tones).
First, I added an RTspot, adjusted its size and coverage:
Then, I turned CbDL on, and selected “Preview selection deltaE” to help me visualizing the skin area targeted, and played with “Balance deltaE ab-L” in Local adjustments settings:
As you can see, besides skin part of the hair is targeted by the tool. This is where “excluding” spots come handy. By adding such spots on the hair, they prevent CbDL acting on the regions (hair) the cover. Below you can see the main CbDL spot as well as the excluding spots I placed over the hair, eyes and lips, and their effect on the preview mask:
The CbDL settings I used to achieve what I think is a nice natural beauty retouch are mainly contrast levels (reducing the contrast of higher levels), increasing the “Chroma” slider to remove some more skin redness, and Clarity to sort of sharpen the skin texture.
As final touch I turned on the Color correction grid in “Color & Light” module on the same central spot, and dragged the white “point” towards cyan color to neutralize a bit more the skin tone.
Here’s a before/after comparison:
And the good news is that now the spots are very easy to manipulate, and the tools very fast and efficient!