Some of us are very blessed in life. We don’t have double chins to cringe at in portraits of ourselves. We pose our clients so well that every photo we take flatters them. We never have to agonize over fixing double chins in Photoshop Elements or Lightroom.
I am sorry to tell you, friends, that I am one of those people. Don’t hate me for it, please?!
Yeah, right. Ugh. My double chin shows in most photos of me, and even when I’m on top of the posing game, it still happens to clients.
Luckily for all of us, there is a quick and easy way to minimize the appearance of a double chin – we’ll cover it in both Elements and Lightroom.
Study the chin area in the photo of me above (so sorry to force it on you – it was a setting-the-exposure click). Rather than focusing on the overall appearance, think about how the actual pixels are different from each other from the face to the chin to the neck. Ideally, we want the chin to be brighter than the area under it – it should cast a shadow on the neck.
However, if your chin is, ummm, generous like mine, you have more unshadowed area than you’d like. You’ve probably already guessed the solution to this by now, right? Paint a shadow into your image!
Let’s start with PSE.
- Add a Levels adjustment layer and move the midtones to the right, to darken them. Something like this:
- Invert your layer mask.
- Next, grab a soft round brush with white paint.
- Paint over the area that you want to be shadowed – under the chin and possibly up around to the side of the face as well. For those of you who use a darker blush color to contour their face or emphasize cheekbones, this is the same idea. My painting is represented here by the area without the red overlay.
- Adjust the opacity of your layer if the adjustment is too strong. Or change the amount of your midtones adjustment to increase or decrease the shadow.
Liquify is of limited use here, since you would just be pushing around skin for the most part, which doesn’t look very nice. You can see from the right side of my face in this photo that my hair happened to fall in a nice direction that allowed for a bit of Liquifying. On the left side, however, Liquifying just put a kink in my hair.
Another trick that sometimes works is to use the Spot Healing tool over wrinkles on the neck to minimize them. Start with a 50% opacity. Be careful with this – you want some dimension and shading here, otherwise that chin will look bigger than ever! That’s why I avoided it here!
Here is the final before and after, with the shadowing and liquifying both.
How would you do this in Lightroom?
First off, stick to adding the shadow in Lightroom. If you want to try Liquify or Spot Healing, bring the image into Elements.
Next, grab your adjustment brush and reduce the exposure on it. My settings were:
Note that my Flow is set to 41 so that I can build up the effect gradually with multiple brush strokes.
Here is the before and after using Lightroom only:
I have often said that there is nothing more excruciating for a photographer than posing for photos. I was wrong. It’s much more excruciating to look at a bad photo of yourself with a double chin and then write about it. Please tell me it was helpful to you!
Before I finish, I do want to say this. I don’t always edit myself so drastically. I am happy (enough) with my body and don’t want my photos to reflect something that’s not real. I feel the same about editing clients. I use this technique to replicate an effect that I should have captured using real shadows and good lighting on camera. I hope you do the same!