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Photo Retouching "Improving" photos, post-production, correction, etc.

Need some guidance on next steps

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Old 07-11-2006, 01:10 PM
Fazools Fazools is offline
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: NC
Posts: 59
Need some guidance on next steps

This is my first attempt at a cleanup job, not fashion as much but just cleanup.

I am aware of these things that need to be fixed:

face tone
eye liner (just lazy and did not do that one yet.)
lips ( I can figure that one out I think)
right eye ( I feel like it is starting to look like a reptile!!)
Although with both of those, I am not sure how they should look.

I would really appreciate it if you hard critics and advisors could either circle in red the areas that need work, or show me how it should look. With a lack of art training, I am still going through books to learn how the shadows should fall on the face for the tone.

Not asking you to do the work for me, just not sure how it should look so something to base mine on would be really helpful.

Also, I know that I messed with her nose and face width, I also have versions that I did not do that on, but for this I wanted to see how it looked.

here is a link with the larger size. (178K jpg)


Here is a link to the original in a larger size

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File Type: jpg original.jpg (45.6 KB, 116 views)
File Type: jpg guidance1.jpg (86.9 KB, 124 views)
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Old 07-11-2006, 03:42 PM
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NancyJ NancyJ is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 729
For a light touch up, you've gone way too far. It doesnt look like the same woman. Her face is very flat and the skin is a little blotchy
For light cleanup I would first colour correct the original (theres a lot of yellow in the shadows) and clone out any few stray hairs then duplicate the original to make 2 layers on top set to screen on mulitply (or dodge and burn for more extreme effect) apply 'hide all' masks to those layers and then basically re-light the face, paint white on the screen mask in those dark shadows and you will lift them without losing any texture - fine lines will need closer attention but dont try to remove them completely.
There may be some residual discolouration but that can be fixed by identifying the approximate shade then inverting it and painting over it on a color dodge layer at a low opacity, this will neutralise the colour.
For the nose, the reshaping can be done entirely by changing the light and shadow falls on it.

I've attached a quick (5 minutes) retouch, just to give you an idea what I mean about making the changes just with light rather than blurring or cloning.
Sorry I dont have more time to post, its late and I'm rather tired (playing football with an 8 year old can really take it out of you )
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File Type: jpg quickretouch.jpg (85.7 KB, 85 views)
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Old 07-11-2006, 03:51 PM
Fazools Fazools is offline
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Location: NC
Posts: 59

Thanks for being so thorough!!

I will try doing all of those things tonight and repost.
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Old 07-11-2006, 04:12 PM
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PatrickB PatrickB is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Munich, Germany
Posts: 301
Hi Dane,

your image sucks.

Ok ok, just joking, but you asked for it!

But seriously now, I have added what I had in mind when I saw that girl (got her number btw?)

What I did:

- Color correction, got rid of the greenish hue and made it a little warmer as this is a portrait
- Applied lens distortion to adjust her face a bit (I left the original image behind, look at the corners!)
- Got rid of stray hair and smoothed the skin by applying a seperate layer and using clone, healing brush. Then leveled out color shifts and dark spots by adding a d&b layer
- Realized the nose is getting beyond my schedule so I left it almost as is
- Cloned the right pupil and replaced the left one.
- Added a new screen layer and painted some light into the eyes with a hard brush in tiny strokes (painting circles instead of thick heavy lines makes some nice noise), then applied some blur and set the mode to screen

So that's about it, it leaves her very natural of course.

I'm sorry for not being harsh enough, but can give you some advice: Don't overdo. Start with tiny steps and make your way forward. Stop as soon as you are satisfied. That's a lot easier than doing and doing, finally realizing you've done too much.
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File Type: jpg original_xxx.jpg (76.1 KB, 94 views)
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Old 07-11-2006, 04:58 PM
Fazools Fazools is offline
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: NC
Posts: 59

First off, thanks for the notes and ways to do the fixes.

I am seeing now that in order to keep the retouch light, I cannot mess with her actual structure.

But what about the part in the hair? I was watching a video tutorial actually a few different ones, and I noticed that they always go in and darken where the part is or where the hairline shows thin hair. Is that something that is done in light retouching? And on that note, what levels of retouching are there? I know there is fashion but what are the different levels and what sets them apart.

I did not check the forum, so there very well may be a post about it, but I figure I would ask.

BTW, got her picture off of Stock Exchange, feel free to stalk her there.
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Old 07-11-2006, 05:03 PM
leuallen leuallen is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 145
Hi Fazools

This is not exactly a quick touchup but she is so pretty she deserved more.

Main problem is color and lack of intensity. Balanced as best I could in RGB but still weak.

Next, bags under eyes. Patch tool, faded.

Next, uneven skin tones. Used 50% gray overlay layer to dodge and burn. Evened out skintones

On same D/B layer, lightened whites of eyes slightly. Lightened iris with cresent moon shape at bottom.

Eyelashes did not bother me so no work done.

Eyebrow on right darkened and filled in on D/B layer.

Rectangular marqee around lips and copied to new layer. Selected lips with magnetic lasso. Refined with quick mask. Featered selection 1. Hue/Sat layer grouped to new lip layer with selection active so that ii effected only the lips. Increased saturation of red slightly.

Picture color still weak so I used Margulis's technique from his latest book.
Duplicated image to preserve original work incase I went astray. Flattened image. Copied green channel (select, Ctr A, Ctrl C). Created new layer and pasted green copy into it. Set blend to luminosity. Converted to Lab mode.
Curves layer. Increased saturation of a and b by moving endpoints of curves in horizontally about one square (out of ten). Slight adjustment to brightness and contrast on luminosity curve.

Face looks fine but too much saturation picked up in background. Painted with black on curves mask to restore to original. Background too light. Created new curves layer. Pulled luminosity curve down at right down about 3 squares. This gives a dull dark image, just what I want for the background. Inverted mask on curves layer to hide all. Painted in with white on mask the background area. While I have this set up, I note that her chest is too light so I might as well tone it down. Brush to full opacity and no pressure. Selected 50% gray from swatches and painted chest area up to bottom of chin. This allowed 50% of the curve darkness to effect the chest. Looked about right.

Chest area pasty and lacks color. Common because girls use makeup on face but often forget neck area. Create new layer. Set mode to color. Set brush to color, pressure, and 20% opacity. Picked good color from cheek. Lighty painted over chest area building up some color.

Went back to dark curves layer mask. With a 50% gray and pressure sensitiviy painted around edges of face and forehead to darken slightly to emphasize main facial features. Large soft brush.

Cropped slightly as I felt she was too much to the right.

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File Type: jpg original-copy-LL.jpg (96.6 KB, 64 views)
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Old 07-11-2006, 05:09 PM
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PatrickB PatrickB is offline
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Hm, what does "light retouching" mean at all?

About the hair-thing, yes you are right, it should be done. To be, it wasn't obviously distracting so I left her hair as is.

To tell a difference (which is not always 100% clear):

Portrait retouching should be the removal of obviously bad things, exposure, color casts, red eyes, blemishes and stuff.

Beauty retouching begins (to me) where you start enhancing certain parts of her/him. The border is where it is not necessary to keep the model as is but to do anything to make the image look good. Usually, they are sharper and look more artificial. (Unnatural beauty)

Fashion is some special style, it requires less saturation, certain skintones. and stuff.

I think what I did is some beauty on the eyes, the rest was just portrait.
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Old 07-11-2006, 05:28 PM
Vikki Vikki is offline
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Posts: 883
Ok, you asked for it.....(basing my critique on your post that you are doing "clean up").
#1 - What ever you do, it should make her look better, not different. In your version she looks like a completely different person. Unless someone has given you specific instructions on what to change (or free reign) you should never change a thing - including removing wrinkles, blemishes, etc. Imagine that someone reworked a photo of you and changed your nose (for example) for the "better".....

The work on her skin is not so good. It has a "molded from clay" look to it. Perhaps it is the choice of tools you are using. It looks as if the skin has been "pushed" around.

The contrast seems a bit strong. The detail in the shadows is almost gone. Could be that you just need to calibrate your monitor. Perhaps you are using global adjustments instead of working on just the areas that need work.

Finally, in order to improve an image, one needs to know what is wrong with it in the first place. What do most retouchers clean up? (think photo studios, not magazines) Usually, it's little changes that make a big difference. Master subtle clean up, then move on to the big stuff. It's difficult to find retouching, on the web, that is not over the top. There are a few in my gallery that (I think) illustrate a more natural approach. Take a look and you'll see that most of the blemishes, wrinkles, etc. are still there, they're just not as noticeable. Look closely at the "before", then "after", to see what has been altered.

Here are a couple:

Hopefullly, this is the kind of critique you were looking for. I think you are miles ahead of the game because you are asking for honest and critical evaluations of your work.
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Old 07-11-2006, 05:34 PM
Fazools Fazools is offline
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: NC
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Your critiques make me want to cry!!! =]

Great comments!! Looks like I will be trying all of these tonight. Another all nighter..

This forum is the best, too bad there is no IRC channel. =]
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Old 07-11-2006, 06:05 PM
Fazools Fazools is offline
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: NC
Posts: 59
Question for Vikki..


You mentioned "Perhaps you are using global adjustments instead of working on just the areas that need work"

I assume you mean when it comes to color adjustments, levels, and such.


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