Here’s How to Quickly & Easily Remove Ugly Shadows From Portrait Photos in Photoshop (VIDEO)

We’ve all been there: You shoot a quick portrait that you think is pretty nice, only to find out later on the computer that there are subtle, ugly shadows on your subject’s face. The image is ruined, right? Well, not so fast.

The tutorial below demonstrates a simple retouching technique everyone should know, because it provides an easy method for removing distracting shadows from faces and can save an otherwise ruined portrait. Colin Smith is the founder of Photoshop Café—a great source of simple techniques for processing images in Photoshop and Lightroom. And this 11-minute lesson is definitely worth your time.

Smith uses an image with light streaming through a chain curtain, casting unsightly shadows on the subject’s face that almost appear like birthmarks. We bet you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to make these distractions disappear with a few steps in Photoshop.

You might assume that the Clone Stamp tool is the solution, but Smith’s technique is more effective. Working on a new layer, he begins by selecting a soft round brush, with an opacity of 100 and a flow of 10, and he explains the keystroke shortcuts to quickly make the necessary settings.

Smith typically uses a pressure-sensitive graphics tablet for retouching, but he explains how you can accomplish the same task (with a bit more effort) while using a mouse. Once you’re good to go, the first step is to quickly paint over the shadows to correct the colors. Don’t be concerned if this obscures some detail in the image.

Once the tones are smoothed out nicely, it’s time to add some texture and detail back into the painted area that now look rather flat. And, as you’ll see, this too is a simple task. It’s only at this point that the Clone Stamp tool comes into play. After a few final adjustments, the result is a very pleasing portrait without shadows.

Head over to Smith’s YouTube channel for more Photoshop tricks, and check out our recent tutorial explaining how to shoot beautiful portraits in bright sunlight.