As soon as I have seen the new, improved Capture One 20 skin retouching tool I was eager to check how it performs on a demanding image. So I have picked portrait of my friend that needs a bit of special treatment to see what can be done with Capture One and what still requires round-tripping to Photoshop. Note that this is relaxed, casual portrait taken with natural light and my point is to clean major imperfections and produce harmonious, pleasing result - this is NOT a beauty retouch, which obviously requires precise micro retouching in Photoshop.

Watch the video "How to Retouch Skin in Capture One 20 - Complete Portrait Edit in 30 minutes" to follow me along in action. Below I have broken my editing workflow into major steps to illustrate clearly how to move from the initial Raw file to the final image.

Step 1: Removing Color Cast

In terms of color temperature the original image was neutral, there was no need to push it towards warmer or cooler side. The only adjustment that I have done with the White Balance Tool was to get rid of the greenish color cast from darker parts of skin tones. This was a quick fix done with the Tint slider.


Original Raw file

Step 2: Skin Retouch

The skin retouch was done entirely in Capture One 20 with the Heal Brush. White symbols in the screen shot below indicate the source points and healed areas - you can switch them off by right clicking on the image and unticking the "Display Arrows" option at the bottom of the Brush Settings pop-up window. The Red overlay visible on the second image shows the Heal mask - this can be switched off / on with the M key on your keyboard.

Skin Retouch with the new Healing Brush Tool

Step 3: Softening the Skin

I have used the Luma Mask tool to quickly create precise mask that will include only the highlights and bright tones in the image - specifically the problematic area in the image that requires extra attention. Once the mask was in place I have slightly brightened the tones with the Luma Curve and I have applied negative value for Clarity tool. These two adjustments gave the effect of softening the skin in the indicated area.

Red overlay indicating Luma Mask applied to the highlights area

Image after skin retouch

Step 4: Adding depth to the image with Dodging

Having the major issue fixed I have moved towards luminosity adjustments. Firstly I have worked on adding more definition to the eyes with the HDR tool. Next I have created a black and white helper layer that was used to temporarily desaturate the image during the dodging process. Red overlay visible in the screen-shot below indicates Dodging mask.

Red overlay indicating Dodging mask

Step 5: Contrast & Color Grading

As the next step I have worked on adding contrast to the image with the RGB curve and HDR tools. And finally I have applied a quick color grading with the Color Balance intuitive tool.

Final touches included a bit of local sharpening and clarity plus subtle film grain simulation.

Final edit after color grading

Move the handle left / right to see the before / after

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