Some compositional tips (loooong)
Wow, I've learned quite a bit from this thread over time. I have some advice to add that I haven't seen posted yet. If you're just here for some light retouching fun, you can skip this post.
1. Blowing sclera highlights. If you're lightening the whites of the eyes, make sure you don't lose the shadow that show's the round shape of the eye -- even if it's not there in the original, I like to add it. It gives you much more freedom to lighten the non-shadow part without looking artificial. Also, PLEASE remove those eye veins!! The eyes are the first place we look, it should be alluring. When I see veiny eyes, my eye doesn't want to linger and savor the details of his beautiful eyes.
2. Adding illogical shadows. Before you add a shadow, make sure it makes sense. Although adding a shadow to the right side of his nose (his right) adds form, it's impossible, because the lights hitting that area making is look like he's was working in charcoal and scratched his nose. If you do think a shadow would work, look around the area observe how other similar areas are lit. For example, darkening (his) right side of his nose would also look strange because parts of his lip catch the same angle of light. One can't be lit and the other shadowed. It's just takes lots of logic.
3. Observe the path of the eye. Does it get "stuck" on any areas you don't want it to linger on? Here, in order of importance, are things the eye are drawn to: contrast, detail, and then saturation. This piece is begging to be placed into some kind of scene; his eye is looking out of frame. We naturally are drawn to follow lines of sight, leading out of the image. Repeatedly examine the path of the eye while you're retouching, and remove "obstacles" such as high contrast areas in background, excess skin detail, lack of skin detail, excess saturation like reddish blotchy skin and red EYE VEINS. I like to grab the viewer by the eyeball and FORCE them to view the image how I intended. View this picture and try to deviate from my eye path: eyes, couch-girl, mouth, nose, eyes, hair, background. Go ahead, make my day.
4. Symmetry. While this is not something you'd want to correct too heavily on a portrait, headshot, or anything where the model is the draw, correct symmetry really adds beauty to a figure. It's fine to correct the symmetry enough that the original actor is unrecognizable for things like stock images, conceptual beauty shots, advertisements, ect. There's one major obstacle for us in correcting symmetry: our brain! Once we look at an image for longer than a couple minutes, our brains starts to correct the symmetry, and we can't control it! I've got an artist's trick to help us disable this unwanted brain function: FLIP THAT IMAGE. You'll be amazed at how lopsided everything looks as your "symmetry calibration" is momentarily disabled. I must have flipped the image over 30 times throughout the retouch.
I love seeing all the creativity in this thread. You guys inspire me.
Last edited by mikedimples; 07-04-2009 at 10:56 PM.
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