Quick Retouching Trick For Slimming Portraits in Lightroom

Hi Gang, and happy Friday. Here’s a quick retouching trick on how to make people look slimmer. This is something we used to have to jump over to Photoshop for in the past, but Adobe added something into Lightroom in a while back that made the process quick and easy, and keeps us right inside Lightroom the whole time.


STEP ONE: Open the portrait you want to apply the slimming effect to, then click on the Lens Correction panel (the Lens Correction panel? Yes, the Lens Correction panel!), and click on the Manual Tab (the Manual Tab? Yes, the Manual Tab!).


STEP TWO: Go to the Aspect slider (the slider we use to flatten out our image or make it taller after we’ve done a major lens correction) and drag it to the right. As you drag to the right it compresses the image toward the center (like you’re squeezing the image together from the sides) and that makes your subject look slimmer. You’ll have to recrop to remove the white gaps at the left and right side, or just turn on the Constrain Crop checkbox at the bottom of the panel. The farther you drag to the right, the thinner your subject appears. Of course, if you drag too far, it’s looks obviously retouched, so don’t get carried away — less is usually more when it comes to retouching.



BEFORE/AFTER: here’s a side-by-side so you can compare the took (look at the width of her face in the two shots above). Again, I didn’t over-do it — the idea is to make your subject look 10 – 15-lbs. lighter, not 50-lbs. lighter.


ABOVE: You can see the difference a slight tweak makes. Again, the key is — less is more.

Hope you have a great weekend!



P.S. Come see me in New York next Wednesday. I’ll be teaching my “Lightroom Seven Point System” class live. Here’s the link with details. 


Author: Scott Kelby

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Editor of "Lightroom magazine"; Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books. You can learn more about Scott at http://scottkelby.com

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  1. I am using Lightroom CC an Photoshop CC – you refer here and in your Photoshop of Lightroom Users to Aspect Slider in Lens Correction Panel under Manual Tab. I do not have that slider at all – how would you do the slimming in the CC versions?

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    • I had the same problem, but later found it under the Transform panel.

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  2. Great retouching tricks. I was looking for some quick how-tos to slim the portraits. I got it now.

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  3. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to learn extra of your helpful info. Thank you for the post. I will definitely comeback.

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  4. I think this is your best tip yet! I’d never have thought of using the lens correction panel. I assume by moving the slider to the right you can make someone look fatter, too?
    But like the adjustment itself, this is something I’d use sparingly, and only on the client’s instruction….

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  5. The girl’s adjustment is perfect. The guy’s head has elongated alien-like proportions in the after photo.

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  6. You misspelled “Portrait” in the heading.

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    • If you do them for money, they’re protraits 🙂

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  7. Why should a person made to look less than what he/she is? This is a fat photographer’s tip.

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    • Two words: Client satisfaction!

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  8. Some “surface” retouching, such as a slight softening of the skin in a portrait of a woman, or removing temporal conditions, such as acne, have been done since the very first camera was invented by B and H PhotoVideo, either in camera or in the darkroom.

    I see no appeal, however, to altering skeletal structure or an excess of epidermis, however subtle. This is not a matter of morality, but taste (unless it’s a client requirement). And what if the poor subject is too thin (is there such a thing?)? Do we as photographers/retouchers have to learn a technique to add fat cheeks to their face? (CTRL-ALT-fat on Windows, CMD-OPT-fat on a Mac.)

    Both subjects in the article look fine in the original photos, perhaps even better. If a person has a full face, as does the woman, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be mistaken for being a relative of Jabba the Hutt.

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    • I think that you are just tryin’ to get some action buddy-boy. All women want to look thinner. Ask Cheryl Tiegs.

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    • Frank, I concur with you on your statement how much is enough, I’ve seen post work edits on people and just shake my head they might have looked that way 20+ years ago but not today.

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    • Your ‘looking fine’ doesn’t always equate to the customer’s view of ‘looking fine’.

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  9. It’s nice and subtle. I can see using the technique if you don’t have a lot of time to pose in a flattering stance- especially when shot straight on. Rather than using it deceive reality,I see it used to correct a poor shot back to reality. Cool, thanks Scott.

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  10. Unless your doing a fashion shoot with a model I would never do this.

    You can shoot at different angles to make people look a little slimmer.

    To me it is what it is. I would bet most people would not even relize the photo of the man has been slimmed. So why do it!

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  11. I don’t think the mode / female would be happy about that.

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    • It’s not just for women. It works for everybody, and I normally do it at the request of the client.

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      • Every three-dimensional object that we photograph suffers a slight amount of perceived widening because our cameras are not binocular. A slight reduction in the width of an image serves to correct this distortion.

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