Originally Posted by Vernon
Having said all that, I would encourage you to continue practicing. Heck, we all started somewhere and with similar ideas in mind.
Take what is said in this thread with a grain of salt and distill it to the cues and advice that will help you achieve the retouching results you are pursuing.
...and post it here.
Blah I like your explanation better. I think it irks me slightly when someone puts forth work in any area involving creativity that merely copies something else from start to finish. I think if I was going to suggest practicing one thing at the very beginning, it would be masking. Being able to do that with some precision helps out quite a lot at the technical level with control. Other than that I think the priority should be on building up some artistic sense. I should have added in the initial one that some reference material would benefit the OP, but not just looking at retouched images. If the primary subject is people, looking at and learning to recognize facial structures would teach him quite a lot.