I had a horrible feeling someone was going to ask me to remember this...
The general principles were
- to leave the face untouched as much as possible, since it was such a charming shot (if you ignored the snot...)
- to leave the sense of directional lighting intact even though the extreme highlights needed to be toned down
- to soften the focus on the clothing so that it wasn't sharper than the face and hair
- to try to bring a sense of uniformity in in the colours
- while I was at it, to make the background less obviously repeated.
and the general steps involved, so far as I remember them...
- took the existing background repeat, made it a larger repeat and got rid of the elements that (to me) made it look obviously repeating (I may do a quick tutorial on creating patterns as the Photoshop Wow! book I have explains it so well). Refilled background.
- cut out face from informal shot using quick mask (using the smudge tool on the quick mask where there were tufty bits of hair). Positioned on new image, adjusted size, masked where necessary (plus I think I had to clone a bit of the neckline of the sweater to fill in because I had the head and neck a bit smaller overall than in venivedi's version)
- copied some bits of skin from the shaded side of his face over the blown-out highlights (I think for the bit on his ear I had to adjust the levels to make the copied bit lighter, too). Then Hide All masked them out and painted back in very gently where strictly necessary - low opacity brush, and a small brush on the ear - working very carefully and remembering the general principle that I just wanted to tone down the highlights, not remove them entirely. Also copied some of the hair from the other side over the strong hair highlight, Hide All masked it and then brushed in just a little at low opacity with a soft brush.
- cloned out the snot and the dribble on chin
- I think I did a tiny tiny Levels increase of contrast on the irises and pupils to make the highlights slightly more obvious (though they're still not very obvious)
- gaussian blurred the sweater, in two goes so far as I remember for more and less blurred areas. Did some dodging and burning to darken some areas of sweater and lighten others to tie in with light direction on face. Also darkened very slightly round edge of shadowed ear and that side of hair, I think.
- played around with the color, although I can't remember quite how. I know that one thing I did was to sample a color (part of the skintone, I think) and add a fill layer in Color mode at very very low opacity over the whole image to try to tie everything together, but I think I'd dont somw tweaking beforehand - basically just looking for areas that didn't seem to tie in with the rest of the image and trying to adjust their color to be more in keeping with the whole. None of this was big changes at all, it was all teeny tiny subtle stuff and probably wasn't really necessary.
- dodging and burning again, very slightly darkened background on shadow side of image, again to tie in with the direction of light on the face.
Things that are still definitely wrong:
- where the bottom of his neck joins the sweater - distinct oopsie there
- I still don't think the differential focus is quite right on the sweater - if this were my image I'd play around with it more
- still think it lacks a certain cohesion - if I were doing this again I think I'd duplicate the whole when I got to this stage, run it through Xero's Radiance filter at a suitable setting, then layer back over this at around 25-35% opacity so that it all ties together. That would also give it a bit more "punch".