In this article, I’ll even show you how to draw freckles from scratch in Photoshop.
How to Highlight Freckles in Photoshop
Step 1: Duplicate the Background
First of all, let’s duplicate the background layer so we don’t lose the original photo. We’ll use the original in the end to fine-tune the image.
Right-click the background layer and select “Duplicate Layer…”.
Step 2: Black & White Adjustment Layer
Make sure the new layer is selected. Click on the “Create new fill or adjustment layer” icon and select “Black & White…”.
The Black & White panel will pop up showing you different sliders.
Step 3: Highlight the Freckles
Freckles and skin blemishes are typically orange/red in nature. Start by playing around with the red and yellow sliders.
Usually, you should darken the reds and lighten the yellows to increase the contrast between paler skin and freckles.
Step 4: Merge Layers
Once you like the result, merge the two layers. Select the adjustment layer and the copy of the background layer.
Right-click and choose “Merge Layers”.
Click on the icon shaped like an eye to make the new layer invisible.
Step 5: Create a New Black and White Image
Highlighting freckles in Photoshop will increase the contrast of the photo. You might find that some areas are too dark or light now. We’ll fix this with a second black and white image.
Go through steps 1 and 2 again to create a new black and white image.
This time, play around with the sliders to create a black and white image with a softer contrast. The purpose now is to create an overall pleasing black and white image.
Once finished, merge the two layers again.
Step 6: Add a Layer Mask
Make the top layer visible again and make sure it is selected. Click on the “Add layer mask” icon to add a layer mask.
Step 7: Masking
Select the Paint Brush tool and set the color to black.
Make sure the layer mask icon is selected and start painting over the areas of the photo which are too dark.
Painting over those areas with black will reveal the layer with a softer contrast underneath. Painting with white will do the opposite.
You’ll see the changes in the layer mask thumbnail.
You can also play around with the Mode, Opacity, and Flow of the Brush tool in the top menu to get a natural result.
Now, just flatten the image and save the photo. You’re all done!
How to Remove Freckles in Photoshop
To remove freckles, or to make them less pronounced, we need to do the opposite.
Step 1: Black & White Layer
Repeat steps 1 and 2 from the example above.
Step 2: Remove Freckles
Instead of sliding the Red slider to the left, slide it to the right to lighten the red tones.
You’ll notice that the whole face will light up making it look a bit unnatural.
Step 3: Masking
Like before, use a second black and white image and the masking technique from above to bring back eyes, lips, and other areas you want to darken. By combining multiple images, you can achieve a natural-looking image.
How to Draw Freckles in Photoshop
When your model doesn’t have freckles, you can add them with make-up. But if you don’t have a make-up artist available, you can also do it in Photoshop.
I’ll show you how to draw freckles in Photoshop. This is the original photo without freckles.
Step 1: Draw a Freckle
Open the photo you want to use.
Click on the “Create new layer” icon to add a new transparent layer.
Select the paint brush.
Use a brush with a low flow, and paint until you get a freckle on the new layer.
You can use black because right now, you’re just drawing the shape of the freckles.
Step 2: Create a Brush Preset
When you’re finished, use the rectangular selection tool and select the freckle while holding the Shift key. When you’ve made the selection, create a new layer under it.
Then, Go to Edit > Fill and choose the color white. Make sure the new layer underneath is selected.
Select the layer with the freckle and go to Edit > Define Brush Preset, and name your freckle “Freckle 1.”
Repeat the process a few more times to create several different shapes of freckles.
Step 3: Prepare the Freckle Brush
Go to Window > Brush and select one of your freckle brushes.
If you can’t see the names of your brushes, open the menu and choose “Large List”.
Once you’ve selected one of your freckle brushes, go to Shape Dynamics in the Brush tab and crank the Size Jitter and Angle Jitter all the way up. You’ll see the brush change in the preview window.
Then, go to Scattering and slide Scatter all the way to the right too. And finally, go to Transfer and slide Flow Jitter also all the way to the right.
Step 4: Draw the Freckles
When the brushes are ready, it’s time to draw freckles.
Create a new Curves adjustment layer and pull the center of the curve to make the skin tones darker.
Click on the layer mask and invert it so it turns black. Use shortcut Cmd + I (Ctrl + I for Windows).
Now, use your freckle brushes and the color white to paint over your photo. Make sure the layer mask is selected and set the Flow of the brush to 100%.
This will reveal the darker tones and create freckles. Play with the different shapes and sizes of the freckles as you draw them on the model’s face.
If you overdo it, switch to a soft black brush and paint to delete the freckles from any unwanted areas.
You can also change the darkness of the freckles at any time by adjusting the Curves layer.
Step 5: Use a Second Method to Create Randomness
Adding freckles is all about creating randomness. Add different freckles using one of the other brushes. Make some darker and some lighter.
You can also use another technique to add some different freckles.
Create a new layer and set the color of your brush to a reddish-brown. Paint over the area where you want the freckles. Change the blend mode of the layer to Darken or Multiply.
If the freckles are too light, duplicate the layer. If they’re too dark, change the opacity.
Play around with opacity and blending modes until you get the result you want. Use the eraser tool to remove freckles entirely or fade them by changing the opacity of the eraser.
Freckles are beautiful and I always recommend not to remove them. It’s better to highlight “imperfections” using one of the techniques I showed you here.
For a long time, popular media wanted models to look “perfect”. It’s time to change that and show that there’s no such thing as perfection nor imperfection for that matter.