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How to Remove a Tattoo in Photoshop

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"Do you think we got any bloopers..?" I don't know, you tell us! And learn how to remove a tattoo in Photoshop while you're at it.

Section 1: Basic Removal

For this first step, we use the Spot Healing Brush Tool. Be sure that this tool is set to the Normal Mode, and that the Type is set to Content Aware. Sample All Layers should also be checked.

On a new layer, paint right over top of the tattoo. It’s that simple! This works best if you do small sections at a time, making sure to include part of the original skin texture in your section. Sometimes the tool will pull areas from other parts of the photo that do NOT belong on skin! If this happens, don’t worry at all. All you have to do is paint right over it again.

After spending some time with this tool the skin will look blotchy and uneven. As explained in the episode, you might get the “toaster oven” effect. But, as long as the ink is gone, you are ready to move on to the second step!

Section 2: Painting the Skin

Retouchers are also painters! It’s time to bring out those paint brushes.

In this very important step, we will be sampling the skin and painting over the blotchiness that is left over from step one.

Select the brush tool and use a soft round brush. The size of the brush will depend on the area of the skin that you are working on, and also will take a little bit of trial and error.

To paint, sample a color of the natural skin by holding alt/opt and clicking on it. Then, your brush will pick up that color and you can paint over the uneven skin. This will take some practice so that the body doesn’t look completely flat! Just remember that highlights, shadows, and midtowns should all be paid attention to and treated differently. Look for the shadows and how they fall onto the skin - sometimes it is just a small detail but it can make all of the difference. For this example, we bring each tone all the way up the arm and into the shoulder.

Remember that this is a gradual and gentle process. Set the Flow of your brush to be very low - somewhere between 5 and 20 percent is a good place to start. With a low flow, you are able to slowly build up the color of the skin. This helps to make it look more natural.

Section 3: Adding Skin Texture

After painting over the skin, it will look much too smooth and artificial. Step 3 is adding skin texture back into the image so that it looks completely normal.

Start by making a new layer and selecting the area around the body part you have been working on. Then, go to Edit - Fill - 50% Gray. Change the Blend Mode from Normal to Overlay. This is the base layer for the texture.

Now, go to Filter - Noise - Add Noise. Change the settings depending on what looks best for your image. We choose to select Uniform.

To add to the look of the texture, go to Filter - Blur - Gaussian Blur. We add just a touch of blur (about 1 pixel).

Now, go to Filter - Stylize - Emboss. This is where the texture will really turn from just looking like noise to looking like skin! Go for an amount that makes it look as natural as possible.

Lastly, create a black layer mask on your current layer. Then, use the brush tool to paint with white where you’d like the skin texture to show up. You can use a low flow or opacity to build it up gently if you’d like.


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