Before and after

This is the second tutorial of the Capture NX portrait retouching series on DPTnT. Previously, I showed you how to change eye colors using the LCH color adjustment tool in Capture NX. In this tutorial, I will show you an effective method of reducing dark circles using combination of Gaussian Blur and Colorize tools in Capture NX.

Below is a 100% crop of a photo that shows significant dark circle under the eye.  In Adobe Photoshop, there are several tools you can use to get rid of it: healing brush, clone tool, and the patch tool. Capture NX does not have any of them (yet), but you can still do an effective portrait retouch job.

Dark circle under the eye

Step by step

Add a new step in Edit List then choose the plus Lasso tool as shown in the screen capture below.

Plus Lasso Tool

Make a selection around the dark circle using the Lasso tool. Not too tight, not too loose.

Select the dark circle using lasso tool

Select Gaussian Blur as the adjustment for the new step you have added. Use a blur radius just enough to smooth out the dark circle. You don’t have to spend too much on finding the perfect number here. You can always come back to fine tune it later.

Gaussian Blur

With the Gaussian blur edit step expanded in the Edit list, hold down the shift key and select from menu Filter->Colorize. This will create a linked adjustment using the same lasso selection you made earlier. The default color for the Colorize tool is the orange color shown below.


Click on the eyedropper icon and sample skin color near the selection that has a representative skin color and brightness. Again, you can always re-sample later if the final effect is not satisfactory. Click OK when you are done.

Colorize after sampling skin color

Now you should have a linked edit step similar to the one shown below.

Linked adjustment in Edit List

If you collapse the edit step by clicking on the triangle next to the edit step number and name (e.g. “5. Gaussian Blur” in my demo), you can temporarily hide the marquee (dotted edge of the selection) created by the lasso tool. You will find that the result is not very good. There is no details in the selected area and the edges are not blended well with surrounding areas of the skin. We can fix that.

Photo showing rough edges and no details

To fix that, we start by changing the opacity of the Gaussian Blur and Colorize adjustments to around 50-60% as shown in the screen capture below.

Opacity adjustments

Now we can see some details in the area where we applied the adjustments but the edge is still too pronounced.

Some details but still have rough edges

To blend the adjustment into the surrounding skin areas, adjust the feather setting until it blends in nicely. If you feather too much, the effects of the Gaussian Blur and Colorize will be so significantly reduced that the dark circle will start to show up again. So choose the feather setting that is just enough.

Feather settings

Now it is much better.

Final image

If you’d prefer, you can lighten up the skin even more by selecting Screen as the blending mode in the Opacity settings dialog box for the Colorize adjustment. As shown in the following screen shot, it will give you a slightly lighter skin color.

With screen blending mode in Colorize adjustment

Compared to the before photo shown earlier, the distracting dark circle is gone but there are still good amount of skin details so it does not look fake or plastic.

That’s it. It is definitely not very complicated and it is very effective. An alternative approach is to use the selection brush instead of the Lasso selection tool. The principle and effectiveness are similar.

Final words

I hope you enjoy reading this tutorial and other Capture NX tips and tutorials on DPTnT. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.

Posted in: Photo Editing on January 13th, 2008. Trackback URI
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