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What are the 10 abilities needed to be a succesful Retoucher

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Old 09-03-2005, 02:51 AM
Gary Richardson's Avatar
Gary Richardson Gary Richardson is offline
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Hi Chris,

Wasn't really getting at you earlier, it's just that experience here has shown that you don't always get a reply to your posts straight away, sometimes members have to think a while before answering, but when they do, the answers are usually worthwhile.

For me as I said patience is a great virtue. I say this as a man who has very little. (Not quite true, I have great patience in overcoming technical problems, but little with my own or other people's shortcomings).

Also tact, diplomacy, and an ability to communicate your ideas to a client, and to comprehend what they're trying to describe to you as well. (As you can see from my first item, tact and diplomacy are also in short supply with me as well).

A good knowledge of basic technique, to the extent that it's almost instinctive. Particularly with regard to Colour, Masking, Blend Modes, Curves and other lighting adjustment tools, Cloning and other blemish removal techniques.

An ability to visualise, both what is there already, and what you intend it to

As Danny says a knowledge of when to seek assistance, and where to find such assistance.

Can't think of much else that hasn't already been expressed better by yourself or the others.

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Old 09-03-2005, 08:14 AM
mdavis mdavis is offline
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Originally Posted by cricket1961
1) Know the numbers. - Having a good color managed site and workflow is fantastic but is not the end all when it comes to color correction. If you know what number ratios make a good color balance you are way ahead of the game. Learn the different flesh numbers. When you get a approved flesh from a client, mark down the ratios in the HL,MT, and Shadows. IT ill help.
Cricket1961 stole my answer with #1. I won't list 10, but I'd certainly invest in copies of Eismann's 2 books on "Restoration and Retouching" and "Masking and Compositing", along with "Professional Photoshop - 4th Ed." by Margulis which is in total support of #1.
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Old 09-03-2005, 08:52 AM
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Richard_Lynch Richard_Lynch is offline
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This may be a little different broad take on it...

1. ability to envision the final result
2. patience with the tools
3. willingness to experiment
4. perseverance desire to get color and tone right to satisfy #1
5. understanding of color mode, light, contrast and composition
6. knowledge of the reality of image editing (and what is possible realistic for a subject)
7. knowledge of the tool set and the reality of what each does
8. comfort with your editing equipment (system, input tools, etc)
9. interest in art and photography
10. understanding of medium and potential results

I almost listed #1 more than once...
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Old 09-03-2005, 01:36 PM
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cricket1961 cricket1961 is offline
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Originally Posted by Vikki
Don't even try to learn every feature in photoshop. Read up on the various features, and master the ones relevant to what you do. Otherwise, you'll never get any work done, you'll always be learning.

I'm sure I'll think of more later.
Glad you got the ball rolling.


While it is next to impossible to learn every thing in Photoshop, it is very necessary in my opinion to try as many of the tools there are.
I have found that the higher up the retouching ladder you go, the less input you have as to how an image is going to look. Which also means that most of the time what you already know with the tried and true basics just won't get you there any more.
When you are doing images at a pre press level, the most important aspect is to get the images looking their nicest in the quicket amount of time.
When you go to a studio where they cater to Photographers, you have to reproduce the images with their vision in mind. No matter how wrong looking it might seem. They are building their portfolios to get jobs. And they get jobs by having their own look and feel. If their own look and feel isn't there then they have lost their own identity and uniquness, which is what THEIR clients are after n the first place.
It is not unheard of to go to a new place to work that you need to pretty much forget all the ways of retouching that you know of and learn the way that that studio is doing it. And a lot of times it will be very different.

Learn what you can and keep an open mind. It'll get you far.

A lot of these answers are great, but far off from what I originally asked. Learning tutorials, having patience, knowing a good look from a bad one are all great. But what I originally wanted to know was what abilities with Photoshop one should know to become succesful as a retoucher.


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Old 09-03-2005, 06:17 PM
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Richard_Lynch Richard_Lynch is offline
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These may not be exactly the answers you wanted, but I believe they are applicable to your question:
Just curious as to what abilities a Retoucher should have as far as techniques go to be successful.
Whether or not you want to qualify that by saying:
Strictly Photoshop abilities.
Do you want a list of tools? If so, does it have to be tools and not functions?
I list my outline for correction in my books, and it isn't enough to say "top ten". If I have 16 categories, which do I eliminate and why?
Are you asking what are the most important tools? Sounds like you were looking for a specific answer.
The tools/functions/concepts I use the most, in approximate order:
*Layers/adjustment layers/layer modes
*Image components/separations/channels
*Hue/Saturation & color balance
*sharpen & blur (exclusive of other 'filters')
Perhaps there is more than one path in retouching...

And your list, Chris?
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Old 12-01-2005, 01:12 PM
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Frank Lopes Frank Lopes is offline
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These are, I think, the most important 'qualities' to have:

you must be patient
you must have a good eye for details
you must be willing to ask questions
you must be curious how other people did what they did
you must be willing to experiment
you must be willing to accept advice and criticism
you must have a solid understanding of layers, levels, curves and brushes
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Old 12-01-2005, 03:51 PM
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Photo678 Photo678 is offline
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color....if you don't know your color and don't have an eye for it you are lost.

You must have a solid grasp of the selective color tool......color correction is not a cure all.

layers, layers, layers. similar to the french mise en place....every adjustment/retouch in its own layer.

Masking....I'm sorry, this is probably the number one piss poor thing I see done over and over and over again....if you can't extract a figure from a background without the it a day....this is by far the number one request i receive.

Knowledge of cmyk space...all your color correction and retouching acts entirely different in cmyk space than in rgb.

unsharp mask is your friend.....i find so many people that think it is a "blur" tool...."why do i want to unsharpen it" heheheh....

the ability to learn quickly....its impossible to know every trick of the may come across a problem that you have never had to deal with before....if you can't adapt to it quickly and figure a way to solve will cost yourself a client.

high end fashion means perfection....get in, and get out as quickly as possible without leaving a trace of your presence in the image. I can spot a retouched image a mile away....if you want to get into high end fashion work, you need to hide yourself....the key is "models are naturally that perfect"

EYES!!!!!...i see so many great retouch jobs gone bad, because the eyes are either WAY overdone, or not enough.....

I think thats it for now :-)
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Old 12-16-2005, 02:04 PM
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Photo Grafix Photo Grafix is offline
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I'm curious why the question is so computer-centric. In my humble opinion, a foundation in basic artistic fundamentals is CRITICAL to a retoucher's success. Those that I've encountered know about perspective, texture, color, light source--from the canvas. That is, good ole' fashioned art and photography classes.

All the Photoshop classes and books in the world cannot substitute for a class in basic painting, illustration and photography. A good retoucher needs a foundation. It's like learning the alphabet BEFORE learning how to read. Texture is more than a filter in Photoshop. Concepts always look better--and develop faster--when you start on a sketchpad or scrap of paper. But too many of us want it "NOW."

We should also have training in basic graphic arts: Printing. We should understand the basics of film, CTP and on-demand presses. I remember sending my FIRST retouched file to a printer and being rejected because it was RGB (I felt stupid).

Watching pros of many ages, I've seen the same retouching miracles done with curves and levels. I've seen the same miracles done with multiple layers and single layers. Whether they've read the latest Photoshop book--or never read one at all--I've seen them do just as well. The only time I see a real difference is between the retoucher who has a knowledge of and respect for artistic fundamentals and those who have none.

Tips and tricks are good. But a retoucher who knows the basics is better.
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