The first thing to do is to locate yourself a photo that is in need of an airbrush. I have selected this – less than amazing – picture of Cameron Diaz.
The technique will work particularly well here because she has a good portion of her face showing to the camera.
You will likely want to duplicate the photo layer so that you can switch between them for a before/after effect.
What we need to do now that we have found our picture, is to select the targets face. There are a number of methods, but by far the easier is by using the quick mask tool.
Switch to Quick Mask mode, then select the brush tool and set the brush to a suitable size for your image (mine was 35px – 45px). Make sure the brush is set to soft (aprox 20% Hardness).
With your brush – paint in the face. It should appear as if you are painting in semi-transparent red. And should look similar to this (i’m only half way through in this image)
Exit the Quick Mask tool by pressing Q, or by selecting the normal mode from the left hand tool panel. You should be left with the face selected.
Quickly inverse the selection to grab the face: Selections > Inverse.
Now that we have selected Cameron’s face, we need to feather the selectionto give a gradual transition from normal to airbrushed face.
To do this we’re going to use: Select > Modify > Feather (Just Select > Feather in older versions of Photoshop) and set the feather to about 12px. (This may vary depending on image size)
To achieve the airbrush effect we are going to blur the selection using Filter > Blur > Guassian Blur | 3px radius.
This leaves the image looking a little too smooth, so to add some texture back in use Filter > Noise > Add Noise | 2.5%, Uniformed, Monochromatic.
Just to finish up my airbrush make over i have used the sponge tool to saturate the lips slightly and then the burn tool to bring out some of the colors in the hair and eyes.
Here is a side-by-side before and after!