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What are the 10 abilities needed to be a succesful Retoucher

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Old 08-29-2005, 11:32 AM
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cricket1961 cricket1961 is offline
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What are the 10 abilities needed to be a succesful Retoucher

Hi All

Just curious as to what abilities a Retoucher should have as far as techniques go to be successful. In other words, what 10 things do you absolutely need to know in order to do your job. This does NOT include hardware, color management etc. Strictly Photoshop abilities. This also is directed more towards retouching than it is towards restoration.

Looking forward to some interesting input here.
Just to put it out front, I am a very successful retoucher in NYC. I'm not looking for stuff to learn, just curious about others thoughts.

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Old 09-01-2005, 06:04 PM
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cricket1961 cricket1961 is offline
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Hmmm. Amazing. 42 people viewed this and not one has posted anything.

Thanks anyway guys. Not what I expected from what I have seen on this forum.

Chris Tarantino
Hi-End Boutique Retoucher
Co-Author - Digital Fashion Photography, out now
Photoshop Author-"Digital Photo Processing"
Adobe Photoshop Certified Expert, Alpha/Beta Tester and Consultant
PEI Magazine Photoshop "All-Star" and Writer
Contributor - "Photoshop Restoration & Retouching" versions 1,2 and 3 by Katrin Eismann
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Old 09-01-2005, 08:16 PM
Vikki Vikki is offline
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Your question is a tough one. I've used Photoshop forever, and I'm having a difficult time coming up with an answer.

How about if you start the discussion off with one of your top ten?
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Old 09-02-2005, 12:39 AM
pixulz pixulz is offline
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well, from a beginner who would someday like to be a professional retoucher...having strong basic knowledge of the photoshop tools and techniques used in retouching would be one...the ability to provide quality work in a reasonable amount of time using proven techniques or techniques that work for you the best would be my case, lots of learning, practicing, and posting my retouches here for my current skill level..i have much to learn....i use the clone and healing tools the most and use techniques i have learned from Eismann's book and from techniques i have learned from retouchpro....if you dont mind, mr. tarantino, can you give some advice, pointers, techniques to us beginners who would someday like to do high end terms of education, books, resources, did you start out? any help would be much appreciated...thanks.

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Old 09-02-2005, 02:06 AM
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Gary Richardson Gary Richardson is offline
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Don't know about 10 Chris, but number 1 on my list is Patience. Not everything comes to you straight away.

Pretty much like this post of yours. Be patient, members will answer in their own time.

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Old 09-02-2005, 02:16 AM
leuallen leuallen is offline
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I'll bite!

Other than the natural god given attributes of good coordination, good eyesight, and good health I would say that number one is a willingness to learn with an open mind. My learning process is as follows:

Study as many tutorials and other retouching information as you can find. There is a ton on the net. But do so warily. Some of the info is good and some bad. Check the credentials of the author. Check the before and after examples. If that checks out, spend time on it. I have spent an afternoon learning one small technigue. And then came back the next day to do it over before the "Ah Hah" moment occured. Then I set it aside and a couple of days latter try it on a project cold with no prompting. If I get through that, then I feel that I have matered it. But I usually have to cheat and refer to the source for success. This shows where I was weak in the technique. By the time I've gone over it this way, I have it mastered and understand what is going on. I find that I can usually then apply the technique to a wide range of problems, some that are not obvious at first glance.

By learning as many techniques as is possible, when confronted by a problem, a useful technique usually pops into my head. It is usually the easiest technique that will get the job done because I am lazy. It is usually, also, the technique which will give the best results. I find that I am often able to use a quicker global solution rather than a more time consuming local correction such cloning. In other words, your guns get bigger.

Now I forget things like anyone else and need a refresher once and a while. So I keep folder with all the good bits of information, cataloged and stashed away. Since I fear that good information may be lost to the net by a sites closing, material withdrawn and so on, so I make a file for my personal use. It is some times time consuming to do so, but it really reinforces learning the content. I do it as follows:

I use OpenOffice (Sun and free) wordprocessor because it has a good PDF export option and handles graphics gracefully. I keep my files in PDF for ease of use and because it handles graphics well.

Gernerally, I can cut from the net and paste into OpenOffice. Usually can get the the whole content in one pass. Check formatting and clean up, export to PDF with a descriptive title, and then close OpenOffice without saving the content.

Sometimes, only the text gets copied. If the content is of sufficient merit, I copy the text, and then go back and get the Illustrations and laboriously paste them in in the correct place. Add captions and format if necessary.

RetouchPro tutorials are easy because of the Print formatting option at the top of the tutorial.

Sometimes, threads contain a goldmine of information. Especially when a talented pro stops by and tosses some nuggets into the fire. Saving a thread is much more work because I edit it into a more coherent format than it grew into. I only copy the messages which have good information, leaving the chaff on the floor. Often corrections and addendums are made to a particular post. I bring those into the correct context and modify the original post if necessary. I bring in the attachments and place them properly. Actually, threads are sometimes more informative that a one person tutorial or website because different minds are brought to bear. If one person is all wet, makes a mistake, or is unclear, the others will reign them in.

Any editing or comments I make to the author original words, I place in red text to differentiate.

In another folder, I keep examples of images which I though were well done. I I also keep images that I thought were poorly done or lacking a vital ingredient, not counting techniques such as poor cloning or sloppy masks. I often take the poor images and try to add what I felt was missing. Then I review them periodically and see if my corrections hold up - do I still like them, is there a better way, did I overdo it and so on. Sometimes an image will have multiple versions all using differnent techniques. Then after a time lapse that clears my mind, I review those and see which technique really worked best in that case.

Its late and maybe I've covered ten things or not, but in free form rather than ranked format. I'll end with a couple of cliches: "Practice, Practice, Practice!" and "Only copy (steal) from the masters".

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Old 09-02-2005, 01:41 PM
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cricket1961 cricket1961 is offline
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Originally Posted by Vikki
Your question is a tough one. I've used Photoshop forever, and I'm having a difficult time coming up with an answer.

How about if you start the discussion off with one of your top ten?

You are right Vicki. It is something I should have done to begin with. I guess I just wanted to see what would come up on its own.
Gary. While Patience is definitely the virtue with retouching, it wasn't my gripe here about responses. More of a frustration of seeing so many people read but not comment. BUt I accept your subtle rebuke.

Not in any order because there isn't any:

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.

2) As Ramel stated, knowing your tools is a very important part of retouching. While not all of the tools in Photoshop are meant to be retouching tools, you never know when you might need to reinvent what it does, and when you are in a pinch to get something done it is not the right time to learn. This goes for third party plugins also. While I am at work, I make sure that ten minutes of every hour is dedicated to playing around with the various options in Photoshop. Having done this since 1991, it has really helped me learn some great stuff that has saved me in some tight situations.

3) Attention to detail. While it would be nice to just knock out an image that looks good, sometimes all it takes is adjustng the most minor things to turn it to great.

4) The stamp and Healing brush tools are great at what they do. But they usually do not get the job done the way it needs to be done. They are the masters of artifacts. They are great starting points, but usually always need "retouching" in themselves.

5) Learn the blend modes. They are time savers and are great at doing the math for you. Then use these modes in conjunction with filters.

6) Learn curves. learn how to bend them in every which way they can. You would be surprised at what you learn from the way a pixel reacts. Once you do you will find yourself using levels very minimally and Brightness/contrast hopefully never.

7) Learn the brush engine. It is extremely powerful if a bit confusing. You can create absolute wonders with it if you just practice with it to see what it does. Personally I just use 1 brush for all my retouching. I just change the size and softness to suit.

8) Stay organized with your layers. Revisions will happen so you will want to have easy reversions happening with in the same file.

9) Know your anatomy for Beauty and believe it or not, Fashion retouching.

10) As Gary says, be patient. You will not always agree with your client. And they will not always agree with you. BUild the relationship slowly and you will be surprised at the amount of loyalty that a Photographer will show you. Over time you work will become quicker and the Photographer will be more and more open to suggestions until a true partnership exists.

There are a lot more, but these stick out at the top of my head for the moment.


Last edited by cricket1961; 09-03-2005 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 09-02-2005, 02:10 PM
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byRo byRo is offline
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Chris, thanks for a very interesting a well thought out list.

I'm a bit worried about number 3) though, must be a real big secret!

Are you going to tell us???

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Old 09-02-2005, 02:36 PM
Vikki Vikki is offline
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My top requirement is not a Photoshop technique.
I would say, having an "eye" for what looks good and natural, is extremely important. An "eye" for what doesn't work is just as important.

When, and what techniques to use is probably second.

Master Layer masks, you won't regret it one bit.
Use adjustment layers.
Use layer masks with adjustment layers for the ultimate in control.

I too, use one brush. I use a tablet, so the only adjusments I make are to size (only use the pressure feature of the tablet), and softness/hardness. A right click with the mouse, and a quick adjustment can be made.

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.
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Old 09-02-2005, 04:22 PM
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DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
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As an adjunct to Larry's well thought out comments, I'd add:

Becoming net resourceful

That would include getting knowledgeable in the use of seach engines to help mine the unlimited golden nuggets and tutorials on the net, as well as find relevant discussion forums, like this one.

Get plugged in

To forums like this one -- not only for the content, but to pick the brains of the Big Hitters (and I mean that in a nice way ) -- people like Doug, Flora and Vikki come to mind -- and establish relationships with them outside of the forum venue. What better online mentors could you ask for?

To professional associations (NOT NAPP) -- (don't know of a Retouchers Anonymous specifically, but there must be something like this), as another means for keeping up-to-date on new technical developments, improved techniques, etc., e.g., the introduction and application of the Healing Brush.

To local photo clubs or organizations which foster "face-to-face" interactions from which personal relationships spring.

While broad and deep technical knowledge/skills will take one a long ways, having the ability to tap the experience of those who know more than you do = Priceless.

Teach others

Regardless to the skills to which they apply, I've found that an excellent way to hone skills on an ongoing basis, is to develop and deliver training courses.

And let's not forget...

Back to your original question, i.e., ...abilities a Retoucher should have as far as techniques go to be successful.

Assuming for a moment you mean abilities for one who is going into business, let's not forget Customer Service skills and techniques.

In any field there are many who have top notch technical skills. Those who deliver outstanding customer service, too, will standout like a lighthouse on a dark night. People are not born with CS skills. They, too, must be learned and practiced.

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