The Friendly Finger of the Retouch Toolset

The Friendly Finger of the Retouch Toolset

The retoucher’s best friend in Paint Shop Pro is the friendly finger of the Retouch toolset, as shown in Figure. The Retouch toolset, which lurks on the toolbar, is a kind of virtual fingertip with which you can rub away many defects, like Mom rubbing a bit of soot off your nose.

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Figure: When I think about you, I retouch myself: the Retouch toolset.

The Retouch toolset offers many tools to choose from. For many of these tools, using them well requires a pretty technical insight into computer graphics. In this chapter, we cover other effects you’re likely to use most.


One of the most useful Paint Shop Pro effects is great for retouching portraits: the Soften tool. The Soften tool, well, softens sharp edges — wrinkles, for instance. Just brush the tool across those edges or click them.

Figure shows a frighteningly close shot of the left eye of wrinkled, old Uncle Dave, a friendly author. On the left is an unretouched copy; on the right is the Soften tool softening his wrinkles.

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Figure: The Soften tool removes a few years from Dave’s left eye.

You could get the same result by selecting the wrinkled area and applying the Blur or Blur More Effect, but that’s more work. (See Chapter 7 for help with adjustments.) If you want a nice, soft angelic glow to your entire image, the Soft Focus Adjustment (also in Chapter 7) makes everything radiant.


To work more gradually and do less softening in each stroke, set Opacity to a lower value on the Tool Options palette.


The Smudge tool picks up paint from the place where you set it down and smears that paint as you drag to other areas, making it the closest thing Paint Shop Pro has to finger painting. As it smears, it loses paint just as your finger would. You can use smudging to soften edges, rub out pimples, or even blend in a dot of rouge (in the form of low-opacity red paint) you have added to the cheek of your CEO’s portrait.


To minimize moles, pimples, and similar imperfections, start not on the discolored area, but rather off to one side. Smudge across the discolored area and release the mouse button after you’re through the area. Repeat in the opposite direction, again starting on clear skin.

Figure shows the smudge effect as the Retouch tool is dragged from left to right, starting with white and passing through the center of three differently colored squares in a single stroke. Notice how the paint fades as the tool moves from left to right. The tops of the three squares have also been smudged, but with repeated, circular strokes.

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Figure: The Retouch tool in Smudge mode. A single stroke through the middle creates a “bullet through an apple” look, and a circular motion smudges the tops.

As in the center of Figure, a single stroke may reveal the inherent dottiness of computer stroking, which you can minimize by reducing the Step value on the Tool Options palette. Repeated strokes, as along the tops of the squares in Figure, tend to smear out those dots.

Other Retouch Tools

Not all the Retouch tools are useful; some are obscure, and others are more creative than restorative. Still, they may be worth a try. The following are brief synopses of what they do:

  • Sharpen: Amplifies edges, wrinkles, and other sudden transitions (the opposite of Soften).

  • Emboss: Creates a grayscale image that appears to be embossed, like George Washington’s face on a U.S. quarter.

  • Push: Picks up the image area where you begin dragging and pushes it along, leaving a trail of finely overlapping copies of that area. (Overlap is controlled by the Step value on the Tool Options palette.)

  • Dodge: A term taken from photographic darkroom work that means to lighten areas that are already somewhat light. It lightens the image and enhances contrast at the same time.

  • Burn: The opposite of Dodge; darkens pixels that are already somewhat dark. It darkens the image while enhancing contrast.

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