Aging a portrait with GIMP

Este artículo también está disponible en Español: Como envejecer un retrato.

There are countless articles available on Internet, explaining how to retouch a portrait and make somebody look younger; basically, what they do is soften the skin and remove wrinkles and other skin defects. In this article I will explain the method I employ to produce exactly the opposite result: aging a portrait. This process enhances the contrast of a photo and highlights the textures; but when applied to a portrait, the effect is that of aging the 'victim'.

Base material

This is the base image, as it left the camera with the standard settings:

Fist I make the conversion from RAW to TIFF, using RawTherapee. I try to mantain as much detail as possible, avoiding under and over exposed zones. The result does not differs a lot from the ofiginal image, I just adjusted the curves, and removed some noise:

Blue channel

Next, I open the file with GIMP. Retouching with portraits, I have noticed that the blue channel tends to be the most interesting one, because it is where the skin defects are more visible:

Consequently, my fist step is duplicate the blue channel and add it as a new layer: open the channels dialog and drag the blue channel over the image window; now I select overlay as the mode for the newly created layer:

High-pass filter

To enhance the contrasts even more, I use a high-pass filter to the new layer, using a relatively large radious (around 32 pixels):

This layer must have an overlay mode, too:

Selective lighting

Our image has the problem that some zones are too dark now; in this example, the tint from the glasses is clearly way too dark, the eyes can hardly be seen. To solve this, I add a new transparent layer, in overlay mode again, and paint with a white brush over the zones that I need to brighten:

The eyes are still a bit too dark for my tastes; and I usually light up the eyes on all my portraits, anyhow. I repeat the previous step: add a new transparent layer, in overlay mode, and paint with a white brush over the eyes:

Corrections and retouching

Now comes the retouching of the hair: I add a new transparent layer, this time in normal mode, and using the clone tool I delete those rebel hairs:

Conversion and exporting

Finally, I export the image to a TIFF file, and open it with RawTherapee again; after some cropping, desaturation, curves, and local contrast enhancement, the final result is:

Because of some strange reason I fail to understand, the main character in this portrait is not fully convinced with the ending results...


Piotr Dziubecki said...

great job, especially that you've decided to try the opposite way ( aging )

eduperez said...

@Piotr Dziubecki:


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