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Soft Portrait Retouching


Photographers and retouchers are often asked to capture the most important moments in people’s lives. Help create lasting memories with soft and timeless portrait retouching in Photoshop!

Follow along as we create two maternity portraits from capture to completion! Learn how to retouch hair and clothing, dodge and burn in Adobe Camera RAW, and use frequency separation to preserve delicate details.


  • 2 Sample Images
  • 2 Photoshop Actions


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 | Introduction
  • 01 - What You'll Learn
  • 02 - Sitting Pose Photoshoot
  • 03 - Standing Pose Photoshoot
Chapter 2 | Maternity Portrait #1: Sitting Pose
  • 01 - Processing in Adobe Camera RAW
  • 02 - Liquify
  • 03 - Removing Distractions
  • 04 - Hair Cleanup
  • 05 - Frequency Separation Retouching
  • 06 - Dodging & Burning
  • 07 - Additional Liquify & Color and Tone
  • 08 - Finishing Touches
Chapter 3 | Maternity Portrait #2: Standing Pose
  • 01 - Processing in Adobe Camera RAW
  • 02 - Liquify
  • 03 - Hair & Background Cleanup
  • 04 - Clothing Retouching
  • 05 - Frequency Separation Retouching
  • 06 - Dodging & Burning
  • 07 - Color & Tone
  • 08 - Sharpening & Finishing

Create Timeless Portraits

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Soft Portrait Retouching

Whether you’re photographing weddings or graduations, the moments you capture are going be with your clients for a lifetime. Learn how a professional retoucher approaches working with such personal and intimate images, using Photoshop to help the most important details shine through.

Capture Memories

We walk you through how we captured each image, breaking down everything from lighting, to wardrobe, to working with a subject. Then we go dive into the post-production, showing you how to make subtle, yet impactful, adjustments that will give each photo a soft and timeless feel.

Lifestyle Photography

We focus on maternity photos, but the same approach can be used for many other types of lifestyle photography. No matter what type of photographer you are, you’re sure to learn skills that will help you capture your client’s most special moments.

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Natural Retouching

High-end fashion work might require bold changes and detailed adjustments. But for more personal work like this, we’re going for subtle changes and a natural look. Learn how to use retouching to simplify a scene, emphasizing the natural beauty of the subject and the importance of the moment.

Professional Frequency Separation

Smooth out harsh transitions between light and shadow. Clean up distractions while preserving all of the delicate textures. Frequency Separation is a key part of the retoucher’s workflow and we make it easier than with our included Photoshop Action! Ready for more? Give How to Master Frequency Separation Retouching a try!

Retouch Hair & Clothing

Retouching hair and wardrobe will always be a challenge, even for the pros. Learn how to remove flyaways with Spot-Healing Brush, add volume to hair with the Clone Stamp tool, and even smooth out fabric using Frequency Separation!

soft portrait retouching photoshoot


The Liquify Tool

The perfect tool for shaping soft materials like hair and clothing, the Liquify Tool is easy to use, but incredibly difficult to master. Learn techniques that will help you Liquify objects realistically and with subtle effect. Add volume to hair and even create the illusion of motion in a long, flowing dress!

Enhance Textures with Dodge & Burn

Dodging and burning is one of the few techniques that, on its own, can elevate an image to new heights. Add beautiful shape and dimension to any photograph, while guiding the eyes of the viewer to the areas of the image that matter most.

Photoshoot Overview

Aaron walks you through each photoshoot, breaking down the lighting, camera settings, and creative considerations used to capture each shot.

Retouching for Lifestyle Photography

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Soft Portraits, Lasting Memories

From weddings to newborns, graduations to birthdays, lifestyle photography is all about helping people capture life’s important moments. Follow along as we create two beautiful maternity photos, from capture to completion!

Photoshop Actions

Frequency Separation &
& Sharpening Actions!

We include our two most powerful Photoshop Actions for you to use throughout the tutorial and in your own professional work. Get all the flexibility you need from Frequency Separation and Sharpening and in only a fraction of the time!

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Color Correction & Color Toning

Learn how to color correct using the tools in Adobe Camera RAW and Adjustment Layers in Photoshop. Help match the natural variation in skin tones between different parts of the body. Then tie it all together with some subtle color grading.

Professional Sharpening

Sharpening is one of the best ways to draw attention to the important areas in a photo. Apply multiple levels of sharpening, from general image sharpening to more dramatic sharpening for eyes, jewelry, hair, and clothing.

Professional Finish

We take you through a complete retouching workflow, from import all the way to export. Master the professional techniques that will help your clients look their best during their most important moments.

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Background Retouching & Extension

We show you how to clean up unwanted elements like lights, bounce cards, and scuffs from photographed backgrounds. Then we show you how to extend the background, recreating the original colors and texture while nailing the perfect composition.

Adobe Camera RAW

Most professional photo edits are going to start in Adobe Camera RAW. Make local and global adjustments to fix exposure, recover details, and correct colors. Master of the power of RAW in Adobe Camera RAW and in Photoshop!

Photoshop Actions

If you’re capturing lifestyle photos and important events in people’s lives, your time is incredibly valuable. Spend less time clicking through menus in Photoshop and move on to your next big shoot! Our PHLEARN Photoshop Actions are designed to save you time without sacrificing the quality that your clients expect.

soft portrait retouching photoshoot


Portrait Lighting

Creating soft, natural portraits starts with soft studio lighting. Learn how to use studio lights, diffusion, and other modifiers to get beautiful, even lighting for any portrait.

Remove Distractions

Stray hairs, wrinkles in clothing, and scuffs on the background. Individually, they may not seem like much, but all those little distractions can take the focus away from the things that matter most. Learn how to reduce and remove distractions in any image!

Draw Attention to the Subject

When it comes to lifestyle portraits, the client and their special moment need to be center stage. Watch as we use both photographic techniques and Photoshop tools to simplify an image and to help guide the eyes of the viewer.

Class Instructor

Aaron Nace

PHLEARN Founder – Class Instructor

Aaron Nace is a photographer, Photoshop artist and founder of PHLEARN. He is the #1 Photoshop instructor in the world with millions of YouTube subscribers.

View More Classes by Aaron Nace


  1. Excellent tutorial I learned a lot!

  2. Brilliant tutorial as usual.

  3. A lot of the techniques I have already done, and the lesson reaffirms the things I am doing. But your tutorial goes the extra mile and into places in photoshop that I have never thought of going for retouching. It’s like photoshop Star Treck…. going where no retoucher has gone before! Thanks!

  4. Master, I don’t know what to tell you. You’re doing great, congratulations. The training I always say is education. No matter how much photoshop I know, I love information very much. I always say.

  5. I learned so much from this tutorial but, then again, I always learn a lot from Phlearn and Aron. This tutorial is definitely one of my favourite. Would have loved to see more of the photography though.

  6. Once again great tutorials thanks Phlearn!

  7. PHLEARN tutorials are always so comprehensive that the only thing I’m ever left wondering is: what is that cool pen holder thingie Aaron has for his Wacom stylus? Because I want one! Seriously, though: as someone who loves images with a more “painterly” feel (to use a word Aaron mentions often in the tutorial), this one was really special. Lots of good tips if this is your first tutorial, lots of good reinforcement and new ideas if it’s one of many you’ve taken here.

  8. I agree. The. final is wonderful

  9. Beautiful photo! Aaron walks us through a complete retouching task with clear step by step instructions. This is a fantastic tutorial!

  10. The Picture Was telling the Beautiful Story…Love this Photograph And Lighting.

  11. My first Pro tutorial, Amazing! I learned some really cool and new techniques such as Frequency Separation Retouching. I now can combine these new ones with my own techniques 😀

  12. This was amazing! I think you guys will always do 1,000% more detail than I probably ever will, but by doing so you cover every possible scenario so that I am covered for just in case. Seriously, Aaron. I don’t know how you even notice some of the things you do. “just fixing this here…. yeah, that looks really nice”….wait, what changed?…rewatch 5 times. I’ve added this one to my favorites!

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