Behind The Retouching - Beauty Retouching

John Ross, Professional Retoucher

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1 Lessons (55m)
    • 1. Behind The Retouching - Image Review #3


Project Description

Photoshop Workflow from a Professional Retoucher

Apply three of these techniques I use on a portrait photograph you're retouching, and share it in the gallery.

  • Here, the student already made it a point to darken the background in order to make sure that the foreground model pops up from the background with depth. To avoid making the image look flat, keep this in mind: warm colors go forward; cool colors go back. Bright tones come forward; dark tones go backward.
  • Keep it real. While it’s perfectly fine to trim down some baby fat from an image model or perhaps shave off a few barely-there pounds, there’s such a thing as going overboard with the waistline. Never slim down a model down to a point where the waist disappears or is barely recognizable. Keep things within the confines of reality to make an image believable.
  • Keep a model’s eyes punchy by brightening them up with Curves. You can use a white brush to add the catch light and then bring down the layer’s opacity to an acceptable level.
  • Be wary of blown out areas of an image. Making adjustments early on in Camera Raw on the raw file will help prevent losses in detail and texture.
  • In Camera Raw, you can drop down the Highlights if an image is too bright, and open up the Shadows if they are too dark. You can also adjust the Exposurse, and the Blacks to manually add contrast.
  • Choose your battles at the right time. Making adjustments in Camera Raw might mess with the depth of your image, but you can always darken the background at a later point in time with Photoshop.
  • Handle global changes first before handling local changes. Worry about the overall feel of the image, before getting into the details.
  • Saturation boosts warm colors; Vibrance boosts cool colors. Because the model in this image is wearing cool colors, it’s best to boost up the Vibrance in order to make these colors stand out.
  • You should always have control over where your viewer’s eye should go in order to retain their attention. Keep the focus on the face. To deemphasize certain areas, use the Graduated Filter to reduce the highlights in the lower part of your model’s body.
  • Remember to find the right balance when darkening the top, bottom, and sides of an image. Keep it subtle so it’s not obvious that you changed anything at all.
  • Always work with Smart Objects. By holding down the Shift key while hovering on to the “Open Image” button in Camera Raw, you will notice that it changes into an “Open Object” button. Click on this to open your photo as a Smart Object in Photoshop. With Smart Objects, you can go back to your raw file and make changes if you need to. For instance, double-clicking on your Smart Object layer takes you back to the original raw file in Camera Raw so that you can make changes later on.
  • Masking with Quickmask is the best way to grab areas in an image. To darken the background, use Quickmask to select the model. I recommend the settings if ”Selected Areas” in the Quickmask dialog box with 100% Opacity and a Green overlay.
  • Color Range goes hand in hand with Quickmask. Use Select – Color Range to select your model.
  • To tighten and clean up your mask, use a paintbrush in Quickmask. Remember that white reveals while black conceals.
  • You can check the balance of of the Tonal range for your image by applying a Black and White filter onto it. Here, you will see the brightest point in your image, which is where the focal point should be. This brightest focal point should be the model’s face, not her clothes or other props. Unless it for advertising, then the brightest should be the product.
  • Local Adjustments using the adjustment brush in Camera Raw allows you to make very specific changes in your raw image. You can use this tool to select the model’s face and brighten it up by boosting the adjustment sliders.
  • Another way to pull focus is to use the Gradient tool with Quickmask selected. Here, you can select an area and refine that gradient by holding down the Ctrl + Alt key and clicking on the mask of your model. This will effectively select the area of your model along with the gradient you just applied.
  • Curves are useful when making tonal changes to an image. With your new mask selection, adjust the Curves to darken the areas you want to deemphasize.
  • The beauty of using Smart Objects and Smart Filters is that you can always go back and make changes in case you change your mind. For instance, the image here is looking a little bit too dark. What we can do is to go back to the Curves that darkened the image too much and simply adjust its Opacity.
  • You can also go back to Camera Raw if you need to make adjustments in the raw file. Using a local adjustment, you can bring back lost details in an image by adjusting the Exposure and the Highlights.
  • The Spot Healing brush (with Content Aware selected) will help you fix offending areas like stray hairs that are out of place.
  • The Clone Stamp tool can even out blemishes and imperfections, as well as unsightly patches of hair. It can also help you make small changes in texture and tone that the Liquify tool cannot handle.
  • When using the Liquify tool, be careful that you don’t do too much to stretch your pixels. Also, it’s advisable to do the Liquify effect on the front end, right after opening, rather than applying it after you’ve created all your adjustments and masks.
  • Take a break. It helps to take some time off to mull things over, especially when you feel like you’re getting stuck in a rut. Once you’re hyped up and ready to go, concentrate on the task at hand and make it your own.

Overall, your key takeaway is to remember that a good image needs good contrast. Give the image some depth and some punch, but be careful not to overdo the vividness lest you lose detail in the dark areas and in the blown out areas. Also, always make sure to direct where the viewer’s eyes should focus on, which is the core of your image or your model’s face.

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