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High End Retouching

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  #1  
Old 03-18-2008, 09:07 AM
yangez yangez is offline
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High End Retouching

I was wondering about the mechanics and methods of high-end retouching.

There's always threads about bad retouching involving blurred skin. Some retouchers that are further down the road seem to jump in and make it clear that this type of thing is bad for detailed work. And, of course, they're right: a look at any good commercial retouch job will show that much more advanced methods are in play.

This has become a sort of fascination for me. The blurred effect definitely doesn't do it for me when I want to see quality work, but I'm just not at that level yet. I've tried dodging and burning to some success, but I still have much to learn. Yet for all my searching and reading in various RetouchPro threads, I have only come across a few very good posts or tutorials about high-end retouching. I'm used to finding anything I need on Google by now but for some reason high-end retouching techniques seem to be missing. lynda and kelbytraining don't have any. Youtube doesn't have any. So I was wondering if any of you more advanced retouchers could provide some more insight into the matter.

As you suggest that we newer retouchers use a better method, perhaps you could explain or give some tips on what this better method is. I have found some helpful information (mostly on retouchPRO) but I'd like to see what the best retouchers here have to say about it.

Many thanks.
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Old 03-18-2008, 02:23 PM
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jam1212 jam1212 is offline
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Re: High End Retouching

I'd hardly consider myself one of the best retouchers here, but perhaps I can help a bit. One reason, it seems, that you do not find much information about high-end retouching on the internet is that this industry is quite secretive in a way. By making their workflows known, many pro retouchers feel they are putting their own livelihoods at risk. Whether or not you agree with that, the fact remains that pro retouchers are pretty tight lipped. Any search of these forums will indicate that.

Another reason is that high-end retouching isn't one technique, it's an entire workflow made up of numerous techniques. There isn't generally just one trick to retouching a photo.

Another thing to keep in mind is that retouching involves much much more than achieving flawless skin. Pro retouchers work on the entire image. Each part of the image requires a different set of techniques to fix. That's why no matter how much dodging and burning you do, if you do nothing else, your picture will never compare. It's about details and working over and over to make everything right.

That being said, there is actually quite a lot of information available out there to get a pretty professional workflow going. My first recommendation would be to get Katrin Eismann's excellent book "Photoshop Restoration and Retouching". It has many many great techniques to achieve a whole image retouch, many of which are professional-grade.

As far as online goes, you generally get a lot of crap. The one skin technique I can and do recommend is dodging and burning. It's a LOT of work, but it's really the only way to get professional-grade skin. Just keep practicing and eventually you'll get great results.

For some really great help, search these forums for posts by the pros like edgework or Chris Tarantino or even Ant. They really really know their stuff and have shed a lot of light on the intricacies of retouching. You just have to be willing to read through a lot of posts in order to get a complete picture.

I guess in summary I would say that the information is out there, whether in books or random snippets of forum conversations. Read a ton, and remember, you're working on the whole image. There is never a magic technique that will make your image great. Heck, a lot of it depends on how good the image was in the first place. Good luck and I hope this helps!
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Old 03-18-2008, 03:08 PM
pixelzombie pixelzombie is offline
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Re: High End Retouching

it is secretive in some ways, no one is going to just give away their workflow that they've worked so hard to achieve..do you think a famous chef would tell you his best recipes to just anyone who asked?
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Old 03-18-2008, 03:22 PM
yangez yangez is offline
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Re: High End Retouching

Fair enough. But I'm not asking for an entire workflow. My question is this: I see a lot of threads asking for C&C on badly blurred portrait work and more advanced retouchers advising (sometimes harshly) that they do it "the right way." However, they never really seem to detail what exactly this right way is. I know part of it has to do with dodging & burning imperfections and that's about it.

So I'm just wondering if anyone would share what it is that high-end retouching really is. I guess one recurring idea is to smooth out blocky smudges on the face with d&b, but this is much easier said than done. So, no, I'm not asking that they reveal their best recipes... but maybe just tell us what they're cooking in the first place
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Old 03-18-2008, 03:48 PM
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jam1212 jam1212 is offline
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Re: High End Retouching

As far as skin is concerned, one generally combines several techniques. Generally, you begin by healing away larger blemishes, then d&b for more precise work, then correct any tonal shifts with curves, then finish with overall color correction. For a great visual on one pro workflow for this, watch the video located here:

http://www.retouchpro.com/forums/pho...y-retouch.html

It's pretty informative. Hope that helps a bit.
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  #6  
Old 03-18-2008, 05:23 PM
yangez yangez is offline
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Re: High End Retouching

Great advice, jam... I watched the vid and picked up a few things. For instance, using extra layers to help identify problem areas on the skin when dodging and burning. I actually do have Katrin Eismann's book already, and I have learned a lot from it. I will go back over it and see what I missed though as per your suggestion...

Thanks for the great advice.
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  #7  
Old 03-18-2008, 08:13 PM
AltIvan AltIvan is offline
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Re: High End Retouching

Is more about adaption of the photo in front of you; beacause you have to change slightly or drastically some proceces in order to make THAT photo look better.
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Old 03-18-2008, 09:08 PM
CaptainHook CaptainHook is offline
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Re: High End Retouching

Quote:
Originally Posted by pixelzombie View Post
do you think a famous chef would tell you his best recipes to just anyone who asked?
It's more similar to asking a audio engineer/'recordist' what technique
they use to get their sound on recordings.

It's different every time. It's also a combination of techniques, that have largely come about by trying to deal with certain problems. Some of the techniques can be helpful in most instances
but they're always adapted and used slightly different as every situation is different.

And MOSTLY, it's down to THEIR EAR. How they hear things. (still with the analogy here..)
How they react to what they hear, and what they do to try and achieve what
they want to hear.

All of this can come with years of experience/hard work/talent/etc.

See the similarities?

Training you eye and learning how to 'see' is the most useful asset.
Technique will fall into place if you can get that. Ant goes on about it
all the time. Without 'the eye', technique doesn't matter.
I'm saying this because i think there's more than enough examples of
specific techniques given here to get anyone started on training their eye.

So in this way i see it as less being 'recipes' that a chef follows,
and more the ability to translate what the cook tastes and through
knowledge, experience, talent, and hard work know what to add,
take away, heat up, etc.
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  #9  
Old 03-18-2008, 11:06 PM
pixelzombie pixelzombie is offline
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Re: High End Retouching

you make a good point, my old supervisor had a good eye but when it came to technique he couldn't retouch to save his life...
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  #10  
Old 03-19-2008, 09:26 AM
zganie zganie is offline
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Re: High End Retouching

Yangez look in work/jobs there is a discussion there making money you might find interesting read all the posts
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