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Thorough critique please.

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  #1  
Old 02-15-2016, 12:30 PM
Pixalir Pixalir is offline
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Thorough critique please.

Hi All!
Here I will put some of my work, please critique it thoroughly. Thank you very much in advance!

1:
Before.
After.
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  #2  
Old 02-15-2016, 05:07 PM
klev klev is offline
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Re: Thorough critique please.

First off, you should crop things the same way to make them easier to compare. I don't think it would be cropped this way normally, but I suspect that you're focusing on the face here. Overall I don't think you thought enough about why you're doing each thing. It's easy to copy what you see on the internet, which is what I see here.

I do think you would be better off if you started with an image that has better lighting. The shadows coming from the nose and across the neck are ugly, and so you're not starting from a good place. It's easier to learn good judgement when you're starting from a better image, then practice on tricky ones later.

The skin is overdone. It looks like you used some kind of blur, which I hate. In spite of the skin being overdone, you didn't really smooth out the eye makeup. You lost a lot of the shape around the lateral portion of the forehead.

The color correction makes the makeup look strange. It no longer goes with the outfit at all. You have to think about details like that.

The outfit had ugly wrinkles. Some folds and things add to the garment, but you generally want to get rid of the ones that don't add anything to the image. It's tough because you're trying to make it look like it was never wrinkled in the first place. The other downside is that the sleeves don't fit perfectly with it pulled forward around her shoulder on one side, so this would be really tough.

I don't really care for the image overall, but given the same piece I would probably do everything differently from you. I would have darkened the chest to make the contrast less harsh from that weird neck shadow to the chest. I would have paid attention to makeup colors. I would have made much smaller changes to the skin. I would have tried to balance out the brightness of the hand and the background relative to the rest of the image. Right now they clash too much for my taste.

Anyway someone else will probably add a nicer comment. This just conflicts too much with my own sensibilities.
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Old 02-16-2016, 04:53 PM
Pixalir Pixalir is offline
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Re: Thorough critique please.

Thank you for your opinion!
Quote:
The skin is overdone. It looks like you used some kind of blur, which I hate. In spite of the skin being overdone, you didn't really smooth out the eye makeup.
I don't use plain blur on skin. I think I lowered resolution of the samples a bit too much so it seems detail were lost.

Here is a full resolution crop.

As you see no details were lost. And for sure there is no such strange things like details blur. Sorry for lowres which deceived you, I suppose.

Quote:
you didn't really smooth out the eye makeup
Tried to get “never retouched” look, but I feel you may be right, look at it at higher resolution, please.
Quote:
The color correction makes the makeup look strange. It no longer goes with the outfit at all. You have to think about details like that.
It was made on purpose in try of harmonizing its color with the lighter skin tones. Harsh magenta tone would look strange imho. Could you please give a more suitable color example?
Quote:
I don't think it would be cropped this way normally, but I suspect that you're focusing on the face here.
The palm of the left hand was "cropped" in this photo in the first place in the raw file, so I cropped it tighter to get rid of this odd look, and yes, focus on her face.

Last edited by Pixalir; 02-16-2016 at 05:16 PM.
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  #4  
Old 02-17-2016, 12:07 AM
klev klev is offline
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Re: Thorough critique please.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixalir View Post
Thank you for your opinion!
You're welcome. Reading it back though, I can tell I was in a bad mood yesterday. Normally I reword things a bit to ensure the right emphasis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixalir View Post
I don't use plain blur on skin. I think I lowered resolution of the samples a bit too much so it seems detail were lost.
I didn't mean plain blur. Sometimes people use things like frequency separation and blur part of it. It gives an over-sharpened look in my opinion and often misses some of the more important details. In my opinion it's common for large areas of skin to look a little rough due to very few lines and small blemishes. When you get rid of or tone down the most obnoxious ones, skin can look a lot better without looking overdone. It also doesn't take as long as some people think as long as you're well practiced.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixalir View Post
This does help. You're right that the low res is somewhat misleading. There are still some of the same things that would stand out to me if I did this then came back to examine it.

I think the sharpening brings out some awkward details. She has a little bit of upper lip hair that wasn't as noticeable in the original. The unfortunate thing about sharpening is that it brings out bad stuff too. It's further than I would personally go in that regard.

There's also that I think some of the forehead shape is a bit flat here, and I think it's more noticeable because you have the boldness of the makeup. I still think the makeup color is a bit off for the skintone. It looks like it has a bit too much orange on my screen, but I can't view on the good screen right now. My normal computer is being repaired.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixalir View Post

Tried to get “never retouched” look, but I feel you may be right, look at it at higher resolution, please.
It's really easy for me to feel like something is kind of overdone. Sometimes it feels acceptable because the piece is really striking and surreal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixalir View Post
It was made on purpose in try of harmonizing its color with the lighter skin tones. Harsh magenta tone would look strange imho. Could you please give a more suitable color example?

The palm of the left hand was "cropped" in this photo in the first place in the raw file, so I cropped it tighter to get rid of this odd look, and yes, focus on her face.
Harsh magenta tone could look strange, but I wouldn't go this direction. I didn't know how you would naturally crop it, although I don't typically crop out part of the hair. You could argue that this is really about eyes, but there's a certain amount of detailing I would want to see if it's supposed to be all about the eyes to the point where we can forget about the hair.

Here's how I would probably approach something like this from the current crop if presented with the original.

I would try to simplify the lighting a bit by letting the right side of her face** go dark. It's just one bright patch and going a bit darker without picking up too much contrast in the detail would make it feel a bit more uniform with the heavy shadows on the neck and from the nose. Right now it feels a bit awkward to me. I would match the catch lights in the eyes a bit closer and work on giving her eyes more shape, especially irises. (Right now you brightened one a bit, but it is still rather flat, making it appear a little off). Makeup would be smoothed out around the eye for nice uniformity, because it's a focal point. I would tidy up the hair line, but I wouldn't apply the reshaping that I see on your version.

This kind of skin presents a challenge. You have a significant amount of makeup, mild signs of aging, and a lot of contrast. It has to be done with great care, because it's extremely easy to make things look weird. I prefer a very light touch, which may be a significant challenge around areas of sharp transition and some of the light hairs on the face.

You may also find that some things can be misleading. You can see above the bridge of the nose where it's normally a bit bright, it looks kind of dry. This looks like an artifact of the makeup. Heavy makeup + heavy retouching and heavy sharpening just tends to converge on something that I would regard as an unpleasant look.

I've dealt with similar images, and I don't think there's always a perfect solution. This is just the way I would go in an effort to avoid exacerbating the aspects that I already dislike while converging on a well-polished result. Hopefully that makes some sense. I'm tired today and I think my brain is about to check out for the evening.


**Edit: In case there's any confusion, I was referring to her her right, or rather the left side of the image. The highlights in that region feel a little out of place to me, and while I wouldn't remove them, I would let the area go darker rather than bring it up. I would lower the contrast in that area if it starts to look too harsh, but bringing that down rather than up helps prevent the overall image from taking on too flat of an appearance.

Last edited by klev; 02-17-2016 at 01:46 AM.
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  #5  
Old 02-18-2016, 01:26 PM
Pixalir Pixalir is offline
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Re: Thorough critique please.

Quote:
Originally Posted by klev View Post
I still think the makeup color is a bit off for the skintone. It looks like it has a bit too much orange on my screen.
Agree, there are better tints of it to choose from.
Well, it's more WIP then final product and I can see a number of spots which need to be corrected. Nevertheless, the direction of this retouch variant is obvious.


Quote:
I don't typically crop out part of the hair. You could argue that this is really about eyes, but there's a certain amount of detailing I would want to see if it's supposed to be all about the eyes to the point where we can forget about the hair.
I didn't crop any hair. It was "cropped" in the raw file.
The bigger hires crop I gave a link to is for tech use only (to look at details).

I'm happy you wrote a lot) Where can we get that useful feedback if not from our fellow retouchers?

Can you please give me a link to a couple of retouchers whose work you like the most? I would like to see the "settings" that set your POV.

For example, I like works of Natalia Taffarel and some works of Pratik Naik but cannot understand others.
I think that works of Julia Kuzmenko McKim are standard. In the positive manner, industry standard... but standard) And works of Michael Woloszynowicz are good but sometimes beyond the brim of reality.

Last edited by Pixalir; 02-18-2016 at 01:31 PM.
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  #6  
Old 02-20-2016, 02:35 AM
klev klev is offline
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Re: Thorough critique please.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixalir View Post
Agree, there are better tints of it to choose from.
Well, it's more WIP then final product and I can see a number of spots which need to be corrected. Nevertheless, the direction of this retouch variant is obvious.
I didn't know it was a work in progress. I would not have mentioned makeup details.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixalir View Post
I didn't crop any hair. It was "cropped" in the raw file.
The bigger hires crop I gave a link to is for tech use only (to look at details).

I'm happy you wrote a lot) Where can we get that useful feedback if not from our fellow retouchers?

Can you please give me a link to a couple of retouchers whose work you like the most? I would like to see the "settings" that set your POV.

For example, I like works of Natalia Taffarel and some works of Pratik Naik but cannot understand others.
I think that works of Julia Kuzmenko McKim are standard. In the positive manner, industry standard... but standard) And works of Michael Woloszynowicz are good but sometimes beyond the brim of reality.
I'm not exactly a fellow retoucher anymore. Anyway what kind of references would you like? I don't follow other retouchers. My suggestions were very much related to what I would do early on. I think you can do a much better job up to this point on certain aspects such as the overall skin, the forehead, and the bridge of the nose. As it is it feels like you took down the saturation but also lost some definition in key areas. I think you need that definition in key spots for the muted palette to work (and of course a better lip color would help).

I guess I could try to find some references. None of the ones you mentioned are really what I'm looking for though. Usually I only use them to point out very specific aspects, not the overall feel of their work. That wouldn't help convey my thoughts at all.
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  #7  
Old 02-20-2016, 04:28 PM
skoobey skoobey is offline
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Re: Thorough critique please.

It's obvious that you are learning from the right people, but you need to understand where you're going before you make the first step. Every single correction you've made lacks intention. Before is only really useful if you want to impress someone with how far you can tha existing file, but it's the after that needs to be good no matter what.

There are just so many questionable decisions. But let's start from the head down. Hair is flat and is over sharpened in some areas, so she looks like she has lots of gray hair. Shape of the hair should be more vertical, her left side looks squashed. Stray hair around her temples and on her forehead has been just left there. Eyes, eyebrows and lashes are blending into the skin, and they should be standing out. You wanted to make the nose less protruding, but now it looks washed out. Smile lines are way too strong, this is not a portrait. Shadow to the right of her face, and especially her neck is both flat and distracting, and then the chest area is way to bright and flat. Bust line of the outfit is wrinkled up and should be smooth instead. Top of the zipper should be hidden. Now for the generals. All your dodge and burn made her look really soft and washed out, and color is uneven, especially look at the neck shadow, right of the forehead for desaturated areas, and her right cheek and inner palm for over saturated areas; skin is over sharpened and bumpy.

Last edited by skoobey; 02-20-2016 at 05:48 PM.
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  #8  
Old 02-20-2016, 06:51 PM
Pixalir Pixalir is offline
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Re: Thorough critique please.

skoobey, tnx for your opinion!
Firstly about sharpening. I didn't sharpened it. It could be an issue of harsh lighting, so one needs to cope with it somehow in such cases.

“Stray hairs on the forehead”. In this case i'm not sure they should be removed, they look quite natural, but I can be wrong. It's hard for me to determine what kind of photo it is. Definitely not editorial, so beautish-portrait?
“this is not a portrait”. So what is it?

“Top of the zipper should be hidden”. Interesting note. Is it a standard?

“color is uneven”. Not sure what you are about.
Here is a hue map of this image.
Hue map
Hues are very even, except the spot on the left side of the photo, I suppose there was a light source with a different color temperature.
You might mean the saturation. Yea it's a little uneven.

So, tnx again for your response, skoobey! Zippers, saturations and shadows won't shirk away any more

P.S. Working with the next image. Not an easy one. We don't look for easy ways))
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