Learning how to retouch newborn baby skin is a versatile editing skill to have. Many of the same techniques can be applied to older kids, maternity and family portraits.
Babies often have dry, peeling or flaky skin during their newborn photography session. How heavily you edit is up to you, but the same retouching techniques can be used and dialled back to suit.
This article discusses Photoshop retouching techniques as well as portrait retouching Actions to help you achieve great results, quickly.
Edited using a combination of Photoshop tools and newborn retouching actions from Newborn Posing
What’s the best Software to Edit Newborn Photography?
Adobe Photoshop is both powerful and versatile.
Compared with other software such as Lightroom, Photoshop allows for very accurate precision of the area you are retouching.
Its tools and brushes enable extremely detailed work, and currently (2022) offer a greater range of useful functions such as blend modes.
How to Edit Dry or Flaky Skin
Photoshop offers some basic tools suited to editing baby or adult skin. These include the:
- Clone Tool,
- Patch Tool,
- Healing Brush.
You’ll often find flaky skin on a newborn baby’s fingers or near creases such as their eyelids.
The Patch Tool is ideal as it allows precise selection by use of a freehand lasso.
Additionally, the Patch tool is great for retaining skin texture and tone.
Often, the Clone Tool and Healing Brush will remove peeling skin, but on the downside, may also change the brightness or remove texture. This makes the edit obvious and often needs a lot more work to correct it.
How to use the Patch Tool for peeling baby skin
Watch Kelly Brown retouch flaky newborn skin, using the Patch tool.
TIP: Prefer a very light edit? Duplicate the layer before doing your Patch tool edits, and then drop the layer opacity for a reduced global effect.
Correcting Baby’s Red Skin Tone
Underexposure is often the biggest cause of excessive reds in newborn skin tone. This can cause oversaturated colours and exaggerate problem areas.
- Getting your exposure correct in camera is the first step in minimising your skin retouching needs.
- In your RAW processor (ACR / Lightroom, etc), adjust your white balance and exposure as required before opening the image into Photoshop or making any local RAW edits.
- If you still have issues, the next step is to do local (specific area) edits, ideally using Adobe Photoshop for best results.
How do you fix red skin in Photoshop?
Are you overwhelmed when faced with red or jaundiced skin tones? Just stop and assess the image properly.
Problem skin tones can usually be identified as one or more of the following:
- too light or dark;
- too saturated or desaturated;
- too cool or too warm;
- too contrasty or too flat;
By using Photoshop’s Adjustment Layers and Masks, you can resolve these issues.
If an area is too light, create a Curve or Levels adjustment to darken it. If it’s too saturated, add a Hue/Saturation adjustment to desaturate the area. And so on.
🖥️ Click through to our article & video on How to Use Layer Masks in Photoshop to watch Kelly use masks on image layers and Adjustment layers. These are powerful techniques which make almost anything possible!
Newborn Retouching Actions
If you like timesaving tools and techniques, readymade Photoshop skin Actions are a worthwhile timesaver.
A great set of Actions will take a lot of the guesswork out of which Adjustment type to use, and the best settings.
Retouching Newborn Skin – Summary
When it comes to retouching newborn skin do you prefer to use time-saving Photoshop retouching Actions such as Kelly Brown’s Beautiful Skin & Details? Or do you like to edit your images manually, step-by-step, for complete control?
Either way, understanding these skin editing techniques will give you more control over your finished results.
Often, it’s a combination of manual edits and Photoshop actions which helps you achieve the result you’re after, in an efficient timeframe.