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First Beauty Retouch

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  #11  
Old 03-15-2012, 11:58 AM
Andymania Andymania is offline
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Re: First Beauty Retouch

Well I know that backdrops and set extensions can be rotated three dimensionally when imported into a 3d program. I know for the most part that backdrops are 100% photo compositing and painting.

BTW, Im having a hard time evening the skin tones out on my pic and I still dont know how to tackle the large mass of light on her chest since that is how a chest would look like when illuminated from such an an angle and light source. Whats the best way to even out skin tones Kav?
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  #12  
Old 03-15-2012, 01:05 PM
kav kav is offline
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Re: First Beauty Retouch

Also on backdrops I doubt they're 100% photo compositing and painting given that some things are much faster in 3d software compared to shading them fully by hand. I could go extremely fast from a rough sketch if it was for something like a backplate. Really those guys seem to use whatever produces the best combination of speed and quality. If you go back more than a few years, it wouldn't have been practical to render something given the time involved. Now low poly background elements could be rendered much faster than you could really draw and shade them in photoshop, and given the ability to split highlight passes, it gives you a lot of freedom to tweak the look. Take a look at a program like Nuke. Those guys are many many years ahead of Adobe. If they released a photoshop alternative, I'd buy version one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andymania View Post
Well I know that backdrops and set extensions can be rotated three dimensionally when imported into a 3d program. I know for the most part that backdrops are 100% photo compositing and painting.

BTW, Im having a hard time evening the skin tones out on my pic and I still dont know how to tackle the large mass of light on her chest since that is how a chest would look like when illuminated from such an an angle and light source. Whats the best way to even out skin tones Kav?
I wouldn't totally kill it. Some of it still looks like a mild tan line to me which was part of my issue. It's also very bright and exits the photo drawing your eye away from the face. I like that you're actually looking at it in terms of lighting. Finally someone who thinks like me on this forum.

Referring to your original before/after links, some of your global adjustments intensified the brightness in this area. I'd back off on some of that and taper the lighting down a bit in that corner to keep your eyes more focused on the face. In a sense you almost added a highly reflective bounce in the front hitting the chest and the side of the arm where such a thing isn't present in the before image. I think it may be rough adjustment that makes it feel that way, but if you compare you should see what I'm getting at. It doesn't make sense for a bright highlight to flow into a soft shadow there. If the skin was tan, it would would need a lot of light to go so bright, and the shadow wouldn't fit. It would be closer if she had a bikini type tan in that area meaning that part isn't tan.

I look at the way collects in skin. It's a non linear falloff with some interesting characteristics. You have to look at quite a lot of it. In something like this from the starting image I would have tapered it as if it was partially flagged in that area. I'd probably play with the shadows overall as they don't do anything for me. If I went a bit darker on them, I'd thin the shadow of the arm making it a bit denser, but I'd test first to see if it looks correct.

In your after version the shadows are very flat in some areas. It's like they're all one color, yet not sharply defined. Shadows don't really work like that on skin. It takes away that quality of collection to them.

In terms of actually toning the highlight down, I'd probably use something like curves, possibly with adjusted blending modes, and it would take a few passes to maintain the correct highlight decay and preserve the shape. Some of these highlights in your after version produce kind of flat shapes. I imagine this stuff in three dimensions quite a lot and picture how the light would roll.

You must understand if I was going from that before image, I'd approach the thing in an entirely different manner from what you went with. I try to envision a lot of lighting in terms of real lighting, but some of it cheats slightly. You just have to pay attention to the overall color palette a bit with things like makeup colors and highlight flow. If you look at the lights in the eyes, that frontal light wouldn't make the chest so bright. You're attributing it to the rim light, yet looking at its angle and net effect on the collarbone, you're attributing a bit too much to it. In the original it's a pretty focused rim and it goes into shadow at a moderately fast pace.

Bleh.. I'm not sure how well I'm explaining all of this. It looks like you played with curves or added a high pass filter at some stage there for contrast. I'd remove that entirely and get used to highlighting and doing overall contouring at a bit more local level. It's good practice, and it's way too easy to overdo global adjustments. I avoid using sharpening techniques specifically for contrast, because they create a lot of weird issues with shadows and sometimes mild posteurization in highlight detail.

Last edited by kav; 03-15-2012 at 01:13 PM.
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  #13  
Old 03-15-2012, 05:09 PM
Andymania Andymania is offline
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Re: First Beauty Retouch

Kav,

You are making total sense. Ill admit that I used a quick method from Scott Kelby's book on retouching in regards to sharpening the eyes. I thought the eyes were usually supposed to be sharp in the pro world so I exaggerated the contrast in the whites of the eyes and increased the saturation in the iris. I'll maybe go back a little to the way the eyes looked in the original. I will try your suggestion with killing some of that massive highlight in the chest via curves and masks.

I understand that the chroma in the shadow (oil painter's talk for saturation) in the neck
region is a bit high and that it must be neutralized. I believe that kind of a saturated shadow could only exist if there was ambient light from a nearby intense red/orange object which I doubt the photographer had. Maybe the camera is picking up colors that we as humans don't see.

I didn't use any high pass filtering in regards to smoothing the skin. Just a few gaussian filters (with low opacity) with masks and I used a brush with very low pressure to gradually reveal the smoothing in certain areas. I think everyone knows this technique but it works very well in small doses.

Since photoshop displays photos via pixels, it means that each individual pixel has a specific HUE value, SATURATION value and BRIGHTNESS value. When I pick up a paint brush and paint in oils, the color I mix must have the right HUE, VALUE and CHROMA. I discovered that by working at a level of 800% I can choose which individual pixels need a boost in saturation while maintaining value ( or brightness in photoshop language) This also means that I need to have my brush hardness set to 100% since I do not want to affect nearby pixels. If I have a region of pixels that are the same brightness, and roughly the same saturation BUT are different HUES, I can add a little color to that area just by simply bumping up the saturation of a few pixels in the area. ( while making sure the brightness and hue values are unchanged) When you zoom back out to 100% you'll see that whole region has more life to it simply by changing the saturation/chroma of a few pixels in an area that is overall very dull in saturation.

I think I really went of topic but I guess I was trying to explain why I work at 800% sometimes with a brush hardness of 100%
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  #14  
Old 03-16-2012, 03:13 AM
kav kav is offline
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Re: First Beauty Retouch

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andymania View Post

You are making total sense. Ill admit that I used a quick method from Scott Kelby's book on retouching in regards to sharpening the eyes. I thought the eyes were usually supposed to be sharp in the pro world so I exaggerated the contrast in the whites of the eyes and increased the saturation in the iris. I'll maybe go back a little to the way the eyes looked in the original. I will try your suggestion with killing some of that massive highlight in the chest via curves and masks.
Well, again an earlier version is the best place for that. Scott Kelby writes stuff that is easy to absorb. That's how you sell books. Make stuff that will generate minimal levels of frustration and allow a given subject to be covered within the page allocation of its chapter. Sharpening eyes is typical. It's just not the only way to bring them out, and you have to be careful with sharpening given artifacts and that you don't want it to be obvious what you did.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andymania View Post
I understand that the chroma in the shadow (oil painter's talk for saturation) in the neck
region is a bit high and that it must be neutralized. I believe that kind of a saturated shadow could only exist if there was ambient light from a nearby intense red/orange object which I doubt the photographer had. Maybe the camera is picking up colors that we as humans don't see.
I'm familiar with the term chroma. It's not just about what is 100% realistic, and you have to remember that digital cameras have quirks. In terms of realism, I make sure that I'm not ending up with shapes in the face that wouldn't result in functional anatomy. With something like the shadow you're trying to make it look good, and the shadow is distracting when it's not really a focus of the image. It picks up a lot of saturation. Some of the people on here have some exceptionally odd techniques for taking some of the regional work out of the photo in favor of global effects and correcting problems that they're actually creating. I handle a lot of stuff by region rather than at a global level.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andymania View Post
I didn't use any high pass filtering in regards to smoothing the skin. Just a few gaussian filters (with low opacity) with masks and I used a brush with very low pressure to gradually reveal the smoothing in certain areas. I think everyone knows this technique but it works very well in small doses.
I didn't think you used a high pass filter in retouching. The contrast looked similar to the effect people get when they use one for contrast. It's not a good way to go about it. I wouldn't bother with gaussian filters or anything that blurs. I can go quite fast even without such things. I'm just super careful on accuracy so that I don't have to fix a lot of mistakes from things that bleed over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andymania View Post
Since photoshop displays photos via pixels, it means that each individual pixel has a specific HUE value, SATURATION value and BRIGHTNESS value. When I pick up a paint brush and paint in oils, the color I mix must have the right HUE, VALUE and CHROMA. I discovered that by working at a level of 800% I can choose which individual pixels need a boost in saturation while maintaining value ( or brightness in photoshop language) This also means that I need to have my brush hardness set to 100% since I do not want to affect nearby pixels. If I have a region of pixels that are the same brightness, and roughly the same saturation BUT are different HUES, I can add a little color to that area just by simply bumping up the saturation of a few pixels in the area. ( while making sure the brightness and hue values are unchanged) When you zoom back out to 100% you'll see that whole region has more life to it simply by changing the saturation/chroma of a few pixels in an area that is overall very dull in saturation.
Even if your brush is set to 100% hardness at 1px it still works as a circular brush. I guess you could use the pencil tool if you really wanted to address a single pixel. I work down to a few pixels quite often. When possible I avoid going below 3-4px as the way photoshop handles some of its small brushes truly ideal. I don't need to go in past 100% "most" of the time, yet if you zoom in the blending remains clean. I'm just careful about everything down to the way I hold the pen. It's easy to overdo this stuff, so I tend to do most of the larger stuff first and work down to the smaller details, although I rebuild necessary areas early on so that any lighten/darken type blending can be done on top of rebuilt areas.

Typically working on photos while you can completely replace colors with your own formulations, it's typical to use adjustment layer functions instead when the detail is there and the required adjustment is more minor. It's difficult to get pixel by pixel replacement to look natural given some of the things in a photo like noise and variation. When I have to actually draw little things (like hair strands), I still tend to re-add bits of photo detail wherever possible. You mentioned hair before regarding single pixel strands. All I was saying there was that a single strand could be any given width and hardness in a photo, and you need to look at what is there for reference rather than developing an absolute rule. Of course it's also important to note things like hardness and transparency in stuff like this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andymania View Post
I think I really went of topic but I guess I was trying to explain why I work at 800% sometimes with a brush hardness of 100%
Note my comments there. If you test on a solid color background you'll see what I mean.

I can tell you if I was working on that image without specific art direction, it would look different. There is a certain amount of judgement of what is working. You just have to take note of stuff. You're losing detail in the eyes where it doesn't seem necessary. The original skintone may seem like a less pleasing color, but it's much more uniform. While you want the photo to have contrast, I don't feel that the patchy look to the skin there is ideal. You also gave her a weird lip color in the after version.

Say you're looking at the before there. I might smooth out the lip line a bit and around the mouth slightly, but I wouldn't adjust the lip color in that way. I would look at ways to bring out the irises as they'd respond to lighting rather than just sharpen the area. The same would go for the lashes. There is quite a lot I could do, and if I sharpened them, it would be the last part of it, and only as much as necessary. It's all quite subjective, but you should look at reference. Pick out some beauty images you like as reference. If you have any magazines either printed or ipad versions, pull up things there because you'll learn a lot more looking at high resolution imagery. Most of these images are used in multiple places, but you don't see all of the details on the web based ones.

http://www.theshoemakerselves.net/elves_test_site.swf

Take a look at them. I like their work quite a lot because they're working in a similar manner to what I mention in that they're not adding a lot of global contrast to make the images pop. The elements are just fine tuned as necessary. There's a lot of good preservation of muscle and bone structure. Most of the time the eyes aren't overdone (if they are it was probably a request), and the lighting flows. Also note that the backgrounds appear to be masked well and handled separately. I don't have any affiliation with them, but I've seen some of their work in magazines and stuff, and the jpegs don't really do it justice. You will be limited by your source material with an image like this, but I don't feel you're limited yet by what can be done with it, in that the image itself has better potential than this.
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  #15  
Old 03-16-2012, 10:58 AM
Andymania Andymania is offline
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Re: First Beauty Retouch

Quote:
Originally Posted by kav View Post
Well, again an earlier version is the best place for that. Scott Kelby writes stuff that is easy to absorb. That's how you sell books. Make stuff that will generate minimal levels of frustration and allow a given subject to be covered within the page allocation of its chapter. Sharpening eyes is typical. It's just not the only way to bring them out, and you have to be careful with sharpening given artifacts and that you don't want it to be obvious what you did.
LOL Kav, I didn't use any sharpening either on the eyes. I just masked off the eyes, added a local curves adjustment layer and I brushed away the mask gradually to reveal more or less of the effect of the curves in the white of the eyes, that's all. With the iris, I just took a small brush with my beloved 100% hardness and painted in pixels that are slightly more saturated. I am aware of the artifacts created by sharpening.

But I will mute the whites of the eyes a little since you are right; they are pretty sharp. I will also mute the dark ring around the iris since I did boost the contrast there too.
Quote:
I can tell you if I was working on that image without specific art direction, it would look different.
This is my main problem. I am having no one over my shoulder telling me what to do so I have to use my own gut feelings.

(BTW, I went to NUKE'S website. The program costs $8000!!!!!!)

So let us summarize as to what I need to do to my image to make it look better. ( Let me know if I missed anything)

1. Reduce lighting in the chest and make that area more uniform. (BTW, that strip of tone between her forearm and the light area of the chest I believe is a light cast shadow, not a tan line. Or is it?? Thats why I am afraid of removing that dark strip)

2. Mute the contrast a little in her eyes in order to de-emphasize them a little.

3. Change the background. Now should I make it less "peachy" and darker in order to "pop" her out more??

4. Restore the lip color back closer to the original.

Now Kav, can you explain to me what is the best way to go about skin smoothing without relying on gaussian filters or over-healing. (The heal brush is great for obvious blemishes, scars and pimples, though)

I am enjoying this conversation btw. I am also reading Dan Margulis's book "Professional Photoshop" which I am learning a tremendous amount in regards how to color correct using the numbers in the info pallete and how to work in LAB too.
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  #16  
Old 03-16-2012, 11:26 AM
kav kav is offline
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Re: First Beauty Retouch

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andymania View Post
LOL Kav, I didn't use any sharpening either on the eyes. I just masked off the eyes, added a local curves adjustment layer and I brushed away the mask gradually to reveal more or less of the effect of the curves in the white of the eyes, that's all. With the iris, I just took a small brush with my beloved 100% hardness and painted in pixels that are slightly more saturated. I am aware of the artifacts created by sharpening.

But I will mute the whites of the eyes a little since you are right; they are pretty sharp. I will also mute the dark ring around the iris since I did boost the contrast there too.


This is my main problem. I am having no one over my shoulder telling me what to do so I have to use my own gut feelings.
I'm not the most successful example ever. Anyway good reference helps quite a lot. I just think it's important to note that images on the web don't necessarily do the work justice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andymania View Post
(BTW, I went to NUKE'S website. The program costs $8000!!!!!!)

So let us summarize as to what I need to do to my image to make it look better. ( Let me know if I missed anything)
That would be the more expensive version. I don't use either of them. It's one of the things on my list of software to learn as it could be useful at some point. I'll probably take a course in it or something of that sort and get a student license to learn it. I don't know that much about video composite work. It uses a node based workflow which is different from layers in that rather than being stacked, you control these things by connections similar to when you clip one layer to another in photoshop. They make some incredible stuff though. The Foundry is just years ahead of Adobe in so many ways. That's their biggest product, but Mari looks amazing too, although it supposedly requires a pretty hefty system to run well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andymania View Post

1. Reduce lighting in the chest and make that area more uniform. (BTW, that strip of tone between her forearm and the light area of the chest I believe is a light cast shadow, not a tan line. Or is it?? Thats why I am afraid of removing that dark strip)

2. Mute the contrast a little in her eyes in order to de-emphasize them a little.

3. Change the background. Now should I make it less "peachy" and darker in order to "pop" her out more??

4. Restore the lip color back closer to the original.

Now Kav, can you explain to me what is the best way to go about skin smoothing without relying on gaussian filters or over-healing. (The heal brush is great for obvious blemishes, scars and pimples, though)
It is a light cast shadow. One of my big complaints about the background was that you made the color closer to her skin than it started. The other thing was that it gets lighter toward the edges. You were trying to adjust uneven lighting from what I can tell and overdid it. Burn/dodge methods are the common method of smoothing on here. It's just a matter of a technique that you feel comfortable with. The most popular most widely used one is to use two curves with one lightening and the other darkening. I do something like that but I assign blending modes to it. Then you'd use paintbrush or burn and dodge tools to paint in or out the mask ( I like the paintbrush). Really most skin isn't that rough. Most of the time it needs much less smoothing than people think. I rarely use the healing brush for much. Since much of the time images are really high in resolution and very sharp, blemishes can get to a point where they're much too big to get good results from the healing brush. I tend to rebuild them and line up the skin texture so it fits in well. I adjust the lighting when necessary. Gaussian blur is never really needed. If anything I do nicer skin work by leaving off smoothing where it's not needed, so anything that's too global looks wrong to me.

Okay on the lips, I liked the original color better. You can look at the colors of makeup. The adjusted one wasn't working and the highlight had a weird just really high in contrast without popping. Some parts cast. With the eyes they weren't feeling that lit up or anything. They were blocked up and lost some detail. Did you note the link I pasted? I know that stuff is quite retouched, but much of it is done in a really nice manner, and it's very very well controlled.

On the two curves thing, while I sometimes use blending modes rather than just curve adjustments, it's just about learning some control. It doesn't have to be black and white swatches on the paintbrush. It can be off white or grey or whatever if it's too hard to control and you need it to be less in some areas. You can change it at any time. When you're doing something new, you just need to test it out a bit to make sure it is doing what you want. The trap to avoid is seeing an image that looks flat and using too much in the way of curves to fix that. Knowing how to do it bit by bit gives you a lot more control, and there's no set rule. What you do to something like the eyes depends on where they are at first and how you want them to look in the end.

When I talked about drawing, I don't work zoomed in all the way, but I make very smooth strokes like I would while drawing. I avoid anything too scribbly, as you really start to notice sloppiness once it's been compounded over hundreds of brush strokes. I keep it minimal, and I try to work as accurately as possible. This is what many people do not understand, and it's very easy to miss. You can do a lot with very small steps that build up to something. I'm PMing you another link to check out.
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