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Magic and Retouching, A "Secret" Art

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Old 09-17-2007, 05:20 PM
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SteveB2005 SteveB2005 is offline
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Red face Magic and Retouching, A "Secret" Art

As I love to watch magic specials on tv, especially Criss Angel, David Blaine's street magic, illusionist David Copperfield, the Brazilian one armed card master, I almost feel that some of the really high end retouchers like Pascal, Amy Dresser keep their "tricks" to themselves the same way magicians do. There is a website like this, but it deals with magic pro.

As I was mystified the first time I saw David Blaine, I found out where and how to buy some of his illusions and tricks. After I found out the secrets, I was able to pull a few of them off, but even knowing the secret or how the trick is done takes a long time to master it and pull it off like a pro illusionist. The same with some of the high end retouching I think. I would pull off the trick and someone would ask me, "how did you do that? Of course I didn't tell em', magicians tight lipped honor.

Luckily, there is this forum to trade "tricks" with and books and online tutorials on professional retouching secrets. Even Katrin in her books tells pros to not let the client watch you retouch lurking over your shoulder or having them ask who is behind the curtain?

It was funny when I worked in a small design studio, the boss or head art director was also senior retoucher and man was she secretive about how she did her "magic." I learned a few things from her, but she was pretty much telling me, you're on your own, you'll figure it out by doing it." I learned a lot working there, but I spent my own money taking one day seminars at NAPP with Scott Kelby and bought his books and videos, to learn the "magic."

One of my idols in illustration was the late great Bob or Robert Peak. He was the highest paid movie poster illustrator in the 80's, before Photoshop really took over. Bob got the 1984 Olympic Games account when in Los Angeles, stamps, posters and I got the limited edition book. He did it all by hand, with watercolors, airbrush, pastels, whatever it took. Of course he could also draw beautifully. He was left handed, although there are certainly many great right handed artists out there. There was an art trade show in Pasadena and Bob Peak showed up to give a talk and show his slides. he took some questions and then again, specifics on how he got his look was a bit murky and over 1000 people were there. It was rumored he got $660,000 for his Apocalypse Now poster. There still isn't much info out there about Bob's secrets and workflow and he passed away a few years ago. Anyway, his talk was very helpful and inspiring, but no secrets given out.

Bob was in a sense, a master retoucher, in that he worked from celebrity photos and "retouched" them with his crayons and brushes for his concepts. Man who knows what he would have done with Photoshop and a Wacom or Cintiq tablet. Another great art "Illusionist."

steve

Last edited by SteveB2005; 09-17-2007 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 09-17-2007, 05:28 PM
pixelzombie pixelzombie is offline
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Re: Magic and Retouching, A "Secret" Art

no one is going to risk their job security in this day and age, especially considering that someone is willing to do it for less money than you...it used to be you could work your way up the ranks by doing the menial photoshop jobs but those jobs have moved to India and China...i was told during a recent interview that said company had 250 employees working in India and all they did was make clipping paths and masks, i figured i had a chance to work their as the retouching samples on their site were an absolute joke but it turns out the ad was misleading...
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Old 09-17-2007, 05:44 PM
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SteveB2005 SteveB2005 is offline
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Cool Re: Magic and Retouching, A "Secret" Art

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Originally Posted by pixelzombie View Post
no one is going to risk their job security in this day and age, especially considering that someone is willing to do it for less money than you...it used to be you could work your way up the ranks by doing the menial photoshop jobs but those jobs have moved to India and China...i was told during a recent interview that said company had 250 employees working in India and all they did was make clipping paths and masks, i figured i had a chance to work their as the retouching samples on their site were an absolute joke but it turns out the ad was misleading...
Hi Pixel, so they are outsourcing PS jobs in other countries, what, now, retouching "farms." haha Oh nooooo!!

Well, I guess then we all have to be the best we can be to compete in LA or NYC, and I know artists can be very tight lipped themselves for job security.

My main work is jewelry photography and I have had clients ask me if they can hang out and watch me work. Unfortunately, no they can't unless they want to pay me $150 an hour, and then I'm a tutor as well. I have many "illusions" up my sleeve as well and still learning myself. So far, no client has taken me up on my offer, but they keep hiring me when they can't do it themselves and how challenging shooting and retouching jewelry can be. I ain't giving away any of my secrets either. Just kiddin', not being harsh, just "secretive" a bit. Shooting jewelry is more about proper lighting than the cameras anyway, and they don't have expensive strobes and octos, oops a secret given away.

One place paid me about $12 an hour to cut PS clipping paths for 8-10 hours a day, touch them up and place them into Quark as a "holding" area for the senior artists to work on. Sometimes I had so many files, I had to get and train interns how to do it and man that could be a real draggggg.

You mean we can't just pick up the horn or send a text message to Pascal for a tip or two? How about if we buy him a steak dinner and a few apple martinis to wash it down with?

steve
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Old 09-17-2007, 05:57 PM
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superkoax superkoax is offline
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Re: Magic and Retouching, A "Secret" Art

BOB PEAK: I've seen his work before...I remember he designed cars as well...it's not long ago I saw his website...

www.bobpeak.com

But his work was more into art then really retouching IMO...but he reall stood out from the crowd with his designs...He was the movieposter answer to andy warhol...


cheers

gerry
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Old 09-17-2007, 06:10 PM
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SteveB2005 SteveB2005 is offline
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Re: Magic and Retouching, A "Secret" Art

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Originally Posted by superkoax View Post
BOB PEAK: I've seen his work before...I remember he designed cars as well...it's not long ago I saw his website...

www.bobpeak.com

But his work was more into art then really retouching IMO...but he reall stood out from the crowd with his designs...He was the movieposter answer to andy warhol...


cheers

gerry
Yes, I have been following Bob's site. When we took his lecture, he would show some of his photos of Brando and others and how he would change lighting, shadows, in other words, he wouldn't just copy a photo per se, but he would in fact "retouch" it, not in the way we think about things now in Photoshop

Glad you are a Peak fan, He was one of the last of his era and it seems Photoshop is the main tool for illustration now. At least my hands are cleaner and no more turpentine or cleaning out the airbrush, prefer the digital way now
steve
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Old 09-17-2007, 07:47 PM
pixelzombie pixelzombie is offline
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Re: Magic and Retouching, A "Secret" Art

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Originally Posted by SteveB2005 View Post
Hi Pixel, so they are outsourcing Photoshop jobs in other countries, what, now, retouching "farms." haha Oh nooooo!!

Well, I guess then we all have to be the best we can be to compete in LA or NYC, and I know artists can be very tight lipped themselves for job security.

My main work is jewelry photography and I have had clients ask me if they can hang out and watch me work. Unfortunately, no they can't unless they want to pay me $150 an hour, and then I'm a tutor as well.

steve
retouching "farms" wouldn't surprise me in the least, especially for catalog work...not that catalog is exciting to work on but it does pay the bills.....$150 an hour seems like a bargain to reap the benefits of all those years of experience, i'm surprised that most clients wouldn't take you up on that offer...
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Old 09-17-2007, 08:53 PM
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SteveB2005 SteveB2005 is offline
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Re: Magic and Retouching, A "Secret" Art

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Originally Posted by pixelzombie View Post
retouching "farms" wouldn't surprise me in the least, especially for catalog work...not that catalog is exciting to work on but it does pay the bills.....$150 an hour seems like a bargain to reap the benefits of all those years of experience, i'm surprised that most clients wouldn't take you up on that offer...
Pixel, $150 an hour to learn about shooting jewelry is one thing, but then to even approach it the right way is going to involve at a min, at least a $3000-4000 starting investment for a beginning camera, several lenses, lighting rigs, jewelry lamps, soft boxes, etc. Plus a fast Mac and PS CS2-3, a Wacom tablet, and a variety of other little tools and props. It is ongoing, believe me. And now I need a Canon T/S 90 mm f2.8 lens and that's another $1000, but the time it would save in post is worth it I think

I've seen the results of jewelry clients going out and buying a $299 P&S digi cam, a light tent and the on camera weak flash and wonder why their equipment is not cutting it and their jewelry is blurry, out of focus, DOF problems, some are trying to get away using their cell phone cameras, which don't work at all.

steveb
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