Retouching Before & After - Adding Freckles

I love freckles. Like seriously love them.

They add such character and expression to a face, they're like skin's little exclamation points. But it's rare that you get to shoot a model with tons of them, so I started wondering - how hard would it be to add freckles in post??

Googling "how to add freckles in photoshop?" brought me to THIS Phlearn article.  READ IT NOW. It offers both a freckle brush download (GET IT!) and a video tutorial on how to use the brush. I won't repeat everything they explain, but here's how I took this image from the Raw state to the final state (as seem below).

Abby, the model, was so beautiful to begin with, her skin required very little retouch and the biggest thing I noticed was 1 - the empty space created by the wind blowing at her hair and 2- the under eye shadows that needed color correction. I used a chunk of hair from another image in this series to fill the empty hair space, then cleaned her skin using the frequency separation technique. I enhanced the highlights and shadows in both her skin and hair with dodge & burn contouring, filled her under eye shadows with curve adjustments, and then I was ready to start playing.


Now at this point the image was ready for Abby's portfolio, BUT I love to play with effects and colors (this is how I learn, I never stop playing, experimenting and asking 'what if i added _____') and her perfect skin with the clean lighting made for a great canvas on which to try freckles.

So using the Phlearn brush I created 5 different freckle layers (set to soft light) and painted them in where I thought they looked best.  Then because I was on roll with the freckles I decided red hair could be fun (hair color was masked in using channel mixers + selective color clipping masks), then I finished the whole thing off with a vintage filter, making the reds pop and softening the shadows.

In the end it was a very fun first attempt at freckle creation and I'm excited to try the technique again sometime.  Happy creating!