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Hairlights & Workflow Comparison

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  #1  
Old 12-26-2005, 12:19 PM
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Hairlights & Workflow Comparison

I spent several hours yesterday, working on a challenge that caught my eye, on another forum...namely, to take THIS (stock) photo: http://www.pbase.com/briarrose/image/53969639/original and remove the makeup from it. (Note - I've linked to the original size of each of the sample photos - you can view a smaller size by clicking "Large" underneath each photo.)

It looked sufficiently complicated that it caught my eye...and while I am far from done, this is what I have so far: http://www.pbase.com/briarrose/image/53969640

Today I need to:
  • fix her hair - blend the painted in fly-away hair with her real, less defined har
  • finish painting in the remaining mottled areas of her skin
  • add depth to her face, by painting in additional shadows and highlights
  • finish the reconstruction of the bottom of her nose - through shading and highlighting
  • re-add her original skin texture back into the photo
  • add a little silver to the teeth of the zipper on her sweater
  • clean up the edges of her sweater - somehow, I got sloppy when merging layers, and got a hard, dark edge, where I had previously only had soft, glowing, backlight edges
  • cool down her skin and hair color slightly
  • add a little more color to her cheeks and eyelids--not makeup--just her heightening the natural colors you would expect to see in both places

I've left you the list, so that you don't have to spend time telling me I need to take care of those things...or explaining how to do them. ;-)

What I WOULD like to know, however is two things:

1) what's wrong with my hair light? It looks *almost* right to me...but not quite--something's off, and I'm not sure what it is

and

2) how would you folks here have approached this image? (Yeah, I know, I did more than just remove her makeup! I did the other things "for fun", when I needed a break from painting her skin!)

I did a variety of things--removed much of the black by adjusting curves in LAB...edited the blue channel...and then much much much cloning, healing, adding blurs and noise, altering blend modes and opacities, and most of all, painting her her "new" skin, sampling constantly from the few clear areas. I referred to the green and blue channels to get information about her skin texture--even things like her freckles (mostly painted back in my me--but really there, under all the makeup). I completely removed her eyebrows, and, based on guesses about her skin color, eyelashes, hair, hair growth and age, combined with a little info from the blue channel, I painted new ones for her, a hair at a time...and really, that's typical of this image--there is TONS of painting in it, since it seemed to me to be the quickest, most efficacious way of dealing with all the existing paint.

It has been fascinating and absorbing--but I'm wondering if other people would've approached this differently--and if so, how?
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Old 12-26-2005, 07:40 PM
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And the final version... http://www.pbase.com/briarrose/image/54006771 (I confess I got tired of the image before re-adding skin texture...so I didn't do that after all. Oh well! :-) Just wish I could figure out that darn hair light!!!)

http://www.pbase.com/briarrose/image/54006771
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  #3  
Old 12-26-2005, 09:11 PM
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Hi Briarrose.

I think you have done a wonderful job on removing the face paint. And the eyebrows are fantastic. Great job.

The rim light on the hair looks a little odd. I would expect it to be more blue than white and there is an area on her left (Our Right) shoulder where the light is coming from above where I would expect it to come from the backlight below.

I added some magenta to the skin
Reduced the rim light on her hair and shoulder
Darkened the cheek area

But overall I think your picture is an excellent piece of work.


Ken
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  #4  
Old 12-26-2005, 10:16 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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briarrose,

like ken, i think you've done a remarkable job; probably better than i could have done.

for the lights, take all three images and put them one on top of each other and flip back and forth between them. i think you'll get what's right and wrong with the lighting that way. also, keep in mind how many light sources are in the image and the strengths and directions of each.

a very interesting challenge. i'd also suggest maybe submitting this one to the moderators for a contest challenge. it would make a good one.

craig
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Old 12-26-2005, 10:19 PM
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briarrose briarrose is offline
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I like the extra magenta in her skin--gives her a slightly rosier look. I suspect that she's actually got a rather English complexion, with very fair, and rather transluscent skin, with pink and blue undertones...but I chose to go with a slightly darker, more golden skin tone, because my preference is always for cooler, paler, pinkier complexions, and I wanted to push myself a bit. I think your decision to go rosier is another good choice--it's kind of fun when you get to pick whatever you like best at the moment, isn't it?! ;-)

I think you're right about the rim light on her shoulder--seems obvious, now that you've mentioned it, of course! Good catch! :-)

I also like what you've done with the lighting on her hair... I spent some time analyzing the image with a friend, earlier this evening, and he'd said the same thing, about expecting bluer light... I think it's also a question of individual strands changing color--ie, being almost pure white, in one place, but other shades, in other places...and with less of the feathered light that I did in my version. (I think yours does a good job of getting rid of that feathering!) Unfortunately--that means the way I achieved it in this photo (by duplicating the masked out girl, setting the layer's blend mode to screen or color dodge, then masking out all but the edges of the duplicated extraction--duping that layer, then varying blend modes and opacities, as well as adding a gaussian blur to some of the layers) simply won't work. *Sigh...*

It's been good practice, though!

Thanks for your insights--and the sample pic of your suggestions! It's very helpful to me, in trying to figure this out! :-)
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  #6  
Old 12-26-2005, 10:49 PM
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Thanks for the suggestions, Craig. :-)

I think that part of the problem lies in the fact that I invented the lighting for my version of the photo...without a rock-solid picture of exactly how that lighting would actually work, in real life--just a squishy sort of general feel for it. It looks to me as though the original was just on-camera flash.

My version is--a key light above and to the photographer's right, with either a fill light or a reflector, to the photographer's left, and then the hair light, below and behind her. I'm not sure if the light on the canvas is reflected from the hair light--or if it's a backlight, pointed at the backdrop, with a sharp fall-off.

From this, I imagine that the catchlights in her eyes reflect the key and fill/reflector...with the highlights on her right (our right, that is!) cheekbone, nose, and chin, from the key, and the hint of a highlight on the left cheekbone and forehead--reflecting the fill/reflector. The shoulder lights are wrong, for the hair light--I think they should be brighter and smaller, with little feathering in the front, and the highlights and shadow on the front of her sweater are pure artistic license. (I was an artist first--photographer second. I can't seem to rid myself of the habit of doing things, "just because they look good", and logic be darned! ;-))

And while I'm beginning to narrow down what's wrong with the hair, I still don't quite have it.

Frankly, this was DEFINITELY an exercise in "seeing"! Despite all my careful painting--in effect, I had a fairly flat face in the end, and had to spend a lot more time thinking about shadows and highlights than I normally do--because I had to build 'em from scratch... It was a bit like using a word your whole life--and then having someone ask you to define it--and you suddenly realize that you're not actually sure WHAT it means--you just kinda have a feeling for what you THINK it means--you know?

I am AWFULLY proud of the eyebrows, though! ;-)

(Incidentally--I know what you mean about flipping the three images...I developed a very strange, inexplicable shadow on the right side of her nose in the final version, that simply doesn't match the lighting I've invented...it bugs me...but I'm tired of that darn nose, and can't be bothered to fix it. ;-))

I'll check with the other forum, to see if they mind if I suggest it as a challenge here...it would be a good one, wouldn't it?!

Thanks again for the suggestions, as well as the encouragement. :-)
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Old 12-27-2005, 12:06 AM
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briarrose,

see if you like this at all. rather than adding magenta, i simply added contrast. this tends to redden things a bit on skin.

before adding the contrast i toned down the highlights in her hair and lightened it overall (this gets darkened again later).

i did a little smudge/push on split ends.

i masked her face except for eyes and lips and made a selection of it. i added a uniform noise of 4 to this.

while i had the selection still on, i added the contrast to just that, the skin.

i did a copy merge and paste as new layer and turned the background layer back on. on the copy merge layer i added a darken blend mode (this darkened up the hair that was lightened earlier).

and that was pretty much it.

craig

edit: oops, forgot one step. on the copy merge layer i used the illumination tool to re-light the overall, putting more light on her face, less on the background and less on her hair.
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  #8  
Old 12-27-2005, 12:28 AM
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ROFL!!!! I guess I got too clever for my own good...because what you've got there (in terms of lighting) is very close to where I started! I can't even tell you why I thought it would be a good idea to add the backlighting (and jolly hard it was to add it, too, I might add!)...I just decided on it, at some point--and then spent a great deal of time trying to make it work. Looking at someone ELSE'S work, however, I can't think why I didn't stick with the more obvious path.

Sheesh!

Yes, I like what you've done very much. The lighting works much better that way, and all the steps you described were very much part of my workflow on this image anyway--even making areas lighter, before darkening them again! Oy.

I particularly like the addition of the extra noise--which has the effect of both adding a bit of extra shadow...and evening out her skin, as well. (And I love the shadow on her chin! I'd been feeling something was wrong with the chin--but I'd been focusing on adding shadows and highlights in other places, trying to resolve it--and just hadn't stumbled on the right combination!)

Bravo!!! Excellent choices--and a lovely explanation of what you did and why!!!
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Old 12-27-2005, 01:45 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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briarrose,

thank you

trust me, i go through convolutions in workflows that would boggle the mind sometimes. and almost every time i do, as opposed to doing things simply, i'm not satisfied. even with this image i can look at it today and go 'boy, that whole jaw line needs to be re-done' .

i actually still like your renditions, especially the 2nd one, the final one. you did an excellent job and i was very glad to see you heightened the bottom cheek lines. even in the original they were quite pronounced. and as for the backlighting you did, the only thing there was that it was a bit too bright for the strength of the light. and the front side was a bit too weak/dark for the front lighting on the face. by adding contrast it darkened up her face a bit, gave more tone and corrected a bit of the differences....i think. i may still have the front of her hair too dark, though.

it's a fun project though and if i helped at all, then i'm glad. i love doing this stuff and sharing and helping when i can. i learn more when i both give and receive something in the process. and feel perfectly free to critique any of my critiques. like i say, i give feedback and also like to get it back.

i really shld have smoothted that chin shadow

craig
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Old 12-27-2005, 02:33 PM
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Ain't it the truth, though! About the incredible convolutions we can go through to get to the final product, that is. I generally try to spend at least an hour a day devoted to practicing something in PS that I feel I need to master/get faster on/learn, etc...and it's paid off, in that things I used to spend DAYS on, are now a matter of minutes. Unfortunately, the truth is, I kinda LIKE spending days on something interesting...and now that I can achieve good results, quickly, I wonder if I don't sometimes make things more complicated than they need to be, just for the fun of it! ;-)

While I do agree that the chin shadow you put in there probably could be feathered a bit more--it's a drop in the bucket compared to what I think needs to be done to the whole image, now that I'm looking at it "the day after"! I'm all for scrapping it, and starting over...but I have to go back to work tomorrow, so THAT'S not happening! ;-) (Those bottom cheek lines, for instance--could stand a little more work...then there's the filtrum shadow/highlights, which I sort of implied, and sort of wimped out on...the shadow on our left, on the side of her face, is too mottled, and if you look closely in the original, her "smile muscles"--from the corners of her mouth, to her chin, are quite defined, as well... Yeah, there's definitely plenty more work that COULD be done on this, if I weren't such a lazy so-and-so! ;-))

As for the front of her hair, and the way you did it...I think that's just a question of taste, and guessing, based on what we THINK her hair looks like, based on the highly unhelpful original. I like your choice...but then, someone else's choices always look a little more interesting than our own, don't you think? :-)

I definitely appreciate your help on this one--discussing it with other folks has really helped me clarify my thoughts regarding what needs to be done (or should've been done), and fuzzy thoughts are anathema to good retouching!
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