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Portrait retouch workflow - am I doing it right?

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  #1  
Old 12-25-2008, 01:13 PM
Shaky Shaky is offline
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Question Portrait retouch workflow - am I doing it right?

Hi,

I've been interested in photo retouching for quite a while now and I'm interested if you have any comments on my general technique. I've had no formal training except what I've learned from tutorials and I want to check if I'm doing it the right way. I am using Photoshop CS4.

Any comments would be appreciated. Thanks. And Merry Chrismas everyone.

So, here's what I do:

(Load image into ACR. If I have a jpg, do a similar procedure in Photoshop)

1) Click on auto. Then fine tune color temp, exposure, brightness, contrast, vibrance and saturation

2) Load image into PS

3) Crop if necessary

3) If there is noise, run Noise Ninja. Mask out areas where noise is insignificant and where there is a lot of sharp detail and edges.

4) Clean up background. Patch and copy/paste+blend for large bits. Healing brush and clone stamp for small imperfections

5) Clean up skin. Start with big blemishes, generally with patch tool. Use healing brushes on smaller spots. Use clone stamp when healing brush fails and for edges.

6) Smooth skin by painting with a layer of surface blur or dust&scratches. Adjust opacity until skin looks smooth but natural. (I know this is a big no for pro work, but on lower res images it looks fine)

7) Do an s-curve layer for overall contrast

8) Another curves layer to fine-tune overall color balance

9) Color correct skin by the numbers with curves and paint on the skin with a mask

10) Shadows/Highlights to lighten up dark shadows and tone down blown out highlights

11) Fine-tune lighting with dodge&burn. Dodge dark shadows and dark skin under eyes. Burn blown out highlights and eyebrows/eyelashes

12) Use sponge tool where dodge&burn over- or de-saturated skintones

13) Take out too much red from face with hue/saturation "reds" sliders. Mask out if it affects bits that it shouldn't (like lips and makeup).

14) Take out yellows from teeth and lighten them up either with hue/sat or curves

15) Take out yellows and reds from eye-whites in a similar procedure to the above

16) Do a strong s-curve layer on eyes to increase contrast. Set to luminosity so it doesn't oversaturate the eye color

17) Adjust various bits of makeup, lipstick and clothing using hue/sat and curves and painting on with a mask. Sometimes I use a solid color layer set to color to paint on exact colors

18) Sharpen with a high pass layer. If there are halos, remove them with the "blend-if" sliders in the advanced blending options and by masking

19) Add effects if necessary - vignette, B&W, cross process, sepia, etc.
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Old 12-26-2008, 10:24 AM
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linus_photo linus_photo is offline
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Re: Portrait retouch workflow - am I doing it righ

There is no "one-way" solution, If the picture is near-perfect, all that work would be unnecessary, or big parts of it. I personally would not use "Auto"-exposure as I'd have that fixed later or calibrated before the picture/pictures enter the computer. Other than that, your way of working looks good. Although I always tell the retouchers that work with/for me to use adjustment-layers as much as possible, that reduces MB and makes it easy to view the difference and enable/disable depending on the feedback from the client. So with that in mind, I would not use the actual dodge and burn tools but curves instead. Your number 6 is problematic, as you state yourself. Better to clone in "virgin-skin" and keep that skin looking like skin

But it all comes down to "what is the point with the picture?" If the only criteria is "look good" then you can have a generic setup, but for anything else, I find it better to go for a creative approach with every new assignment.

Keep on keeping on!
Best,
Linus
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Old 12-26-2008, 10:56 AM
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TommyO TommyO is offline
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Re: Portrait retouch workflow - am I doing it righ

I would agree that for portrait work your workflow is fine, and seems consistent with what anyone else would do.

One idea, if you always do the same workflow, create actions to add all of those layers in advance. Then it's just a matter of whether you actually do anything on each layer, as needed. That save a lot of time and keeps things consistent.
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Old 12-27-2008, 07:21 AM
Shaky Shaky is offline
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Re: Portrait retouch workflow - am I doing it righ

Quote:
Originally Posted by linus_photo View Post
Although I always tell the retouchers that work with/for me to use adjustment-layers as much as possible, that reduces MB and makes it easy to view the difference and enable/disable depending on the feedback from the client. So with that in mind, I would not use the actual dodge and burn tools but curves instead. Your number 6 is problematic, as you state yourself. Better to clone in "virgin-skin" and keep that skin looking like skin
Thanks for the replies.

I do use adjustment layers wherever possible. The thing with Dodge & Burn is that in CS4 the most talked about improvement are the new D&B tools. And they really are worth the hype, in my opinion. Although I'd prefer to have the option of laying them down non-destructively via a "sample all layers" checkbox, similar to the one on clone and heal.
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Old 12-27-2008, 06:04 PM
martin2day martin2day is offline
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Re: Portrait retouch workflow - am I doing it righ

Shaky, would you, please, show your workflow with pictures?
Thank you.

Ps. I'm a "very" beginner.
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Old 12-28-2008, 09:06 AM
consciouseye consciouseye is offline
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Re: Portrait retouch workflow - am I doing it righ

Shaky...this sounds about right...would you care to post a before and after picture to see how you did?
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