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

First serious tries to retouch. Please comment ;)

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  #1  
Old 04-21-2009, 10:44 PM
cruel.frames's Avatar
cruel.frames cruel.frames is offline
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Newbie First serious tries to retouch. Please comment ;)

Hello,
I haven't written anything recently because I was finishing my Bachelor work and had to do lots of stuff after it. Anyway, I had some time to experiment with the DB technique and here are the first *better* results. It took me around 4-5 hours per image clicking with my poor 5-euro-worth mouse... and I got some serious finger pain after it...

Anyway, I worked only on my amateur images, trying to pick more difficult cases and work with DB exclusively to fix the skin and shadings of the images. I'd like to note again that I've used only a mouse (not sure that my *skills* are worth investing in a tablet .

The biggest problem I encounter is that I don't know how to retain / draw the correct shading of the faces and they look kind of flat. Also how much of the skin detail should stay in the image? When using DB, I try to make everything kind of even, with no harsh dots and whites in the skin, but pretty often I am left with lack of good texture.

Any input will be highly appreciated. Be merciless and tell me all the bad things about them so I can improve my work!

Thank you in advance!

Regards,
Nikolay
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  #2  
Old 04-21-2009, 11:18 PM
MrRyan MrRyan is offline
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Re: First serious tries to retouch. Please comment

Hello there Nikolay,

While I'm not going to critique your retouching, I would like to offer a few insights.
Anyone willing to invest 5 hours into retouching an image, certainly can merit a tablet.
Since Wacom is releasing the new Intuos4, I'm sure you could find an Intuos3 on the cheap. I do retouch work professionally, and the Intuos3 has met all of my demands thus far. In my process, I could generally retouch these images in 1 hour with the pen. Using the mouse, my work would be inferior, and it would take me 2 times as long. Let's figure even a modest $25/hour for retouching: The tablet would pay itself off in 4 images, and the work would be better. If design work on the computer, be it retouching, vectors, etc is your deal, I'd recommend investing in a tablet. It will definately change your workflow. You/your work is worth it friend!

Cheers,
Ryan
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  #3  
Old 04-22-2009, 12:25 AM
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LloydM LloydM is offline
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Re: First serious tries to retouch. Please comment

Hello Nikolay
I am not the one to really critique, as I am just trying to learn portrait retouching.
I will say that for me they are a little washed out, some shaping with a little shadow and highlight would have given some depth. The picture with the eyes closed appear to be like they are sewn shut.

With my mini cratique I am going along with MrRyan. Since you spent the time you did you really need to invest in a tablet. Your work is good and would have been as good if not better had you had a tablet, plus you would have gone through a lot less hassle and finger stress.
Keep up the good work
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Old 04-22-2009, 12:44 AM
Gary Gary is offline
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Re: First serious tries to retouch. Please comment

Quote:
Originally Posted by cruel.frames View Post
Hello,
I haven't written anything recently because I was finishing my Bachelor work and had to do lots of stuff after it. Anyway, I had some time to experiment with the DB technique and here are the first *better* results. It took me around 4-5 hours per image clicking with my poor 5-euro-worth mouse... and I got some serious finger pain after it...

Anyway, I worked only on my amateur images, trying to pick more difficult cases and work with DB exclusively to fix the skin and shadings of the images. I'd like to note again that I've used only a mouse (not sure that my *skills* are worth investing in a tablet .

The biggest problem I encounter is that I don't know how to retain / draw the correct shading of the faces and they look kind of flat. Also how much of the skin detail should stay in the image? When using DB, I try to make everything kind of even, with no harsh dots and whites in the skin, but pretty often I am left with lack of good texture.

Any input will be highly appreciated. Be merciless and tell me all the bad things about them so I can improve my work!

Thank you in advance!

Regards,
Nikolay
Nice work! .. and I feel your pain!

As for skin smoothing, blemish removal,etc, there are so many different ways that this can be done. Here's what I did with your retouched version. When my end-goal is to maintain a 'natural' look, Once the blemishes, etc have been removed, I will bring the post-retouch version back up and look it over for where the shadowing, lighting effects, etc are and then match them with curves adjustment layers. I do this by placing a duplicate over-top of my shin-retouched version, adjust the curve to get the proper lighting, shadowing,contrast, etc. Of course, as this effects the whole project, simply fill the mask with black. Now, with a very low opacity white brush, slowly make the change(s) that you are looking for. This method allows me to apply effect only to specific areas. This make take a few adjustment layers to get where you want to be. As the curves adjustment may also effect the coloring, I change the blend mode to Luminosity. The, to add or subtract from these curves adjustments, you can simply increase or decrease the opacity of duplicate layer that you are working on. Or, I also use Cspringer's PWLII (Paint with Light/Color) action at http://www.atncentral.com/image_enhance.htm

HTH.

p.s. Go for the Wacom pen tool !

Cheers
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  #5  
Old 04-22-2009, 08:53 AM
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cruel.frames cruel.frames is offline
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Re: First serious tries to retouch. Please comment

First of all, thank you all for the fast replies!

@ MrRyan thanks for the suggestion of buying a Intuos3 tablet. I was really thinking of doing so, but was uncertain about spending the money for Intuos4, since I haven't had any income from what I am doing yet... Mainly because I didn't know if I am on the right track so I can do some more example,try to build a portfolio and start searching for "clients". The other thing is that I wasn't sure about the differences between the versions but since you're using Intuos3 for pro work, I'd rather save 100 euros and go for it instead of the more expensive Intuos4. Do you think that A5 size is sufficient? (not the widescreen, since it is quite more expensive).

@ LloydM Hey, everyone has the right to criticize and give ideas, and thanks for doing so To be honest, it never came to my mind to use Shadows / Highlights for the shading. I was so *into* painting on the 50% grey layer that I was determined to do everything using it. Hehe, I'll give this a try Also, with the "sewn" eye, yeah I got that feeling too, but ran out of ideas how to fix that... I guess the problem comes because the rest of the image looks rather flat and even, and it's kind of weird to have this... eye there, that has more visible texture and shading than the surroundings...

@ Gary Last but but least, thank you too for your input and time spent on the retouch to show your point From what I understood, you match selectively the original shadings of the source with the retouched version, using curves layer that darkens / increases contrast, right? I'll try this to see what will happen. Oh, and thanks for the cool website with actions!

Can you give me any suggestions how to improve my work from aesthetic point of view. Should I try to find and work with better photographed images and not struggle to edit my own and spend hours fixing bad lighting and color balance? I am not really familiar with the legal stuff around using somebody else's work.

Last edited by cruel.frames; 04-22-2009 at 08:59 AM.
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Old 04-22-2009, 09:06 AM
MrRyan MrRyan is offline
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Re: First serious tries to retouch. Please comment

Nikolay,

I'm using the 6X8 (6 3/8" X 8 1/4") Intuos3 tablet. Tablets are a matter of preference.
There are two 9"X12" tablets sitting in a drawer, 15ft from me, and I can't be bothered to use them. I don't like the larger size. It means I have less room on my desk and have to move my hand further for normal tasks, which takes me longer. Saving time is a surefire way of increasing your hourly rate.

As for the widescreen, I'm not certain, i haven't worked with one. However, if you're looking for an endorsement, I have a 6X8 Intuos3 that is at least 3 years old, and it's perfect for me.

Ryan
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Old 04-22-2009, 01:39 PM
Gary Gary is offline
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Re: First serious tries to retouch. Please comment

Quote:
Originally Posted by cruel.frames View Post
First of all, thank you all for the fast replies!

@ Gary Last but but least, thank you too for your input and time spent on the retouch to show your point From what I understood, you match selectively the original shadings of the source with the retouched version, using curves layer that darkens / increases contrast, right? I'll try this to see what will happen. Oh, and thanks for the cool website with actions!

Can you give me any suggestions how to improve my work from aesthetic point of view. Should I try to find and work with better photographed images and not struggle to edit my own and spend hours fixing bad lighting and color balance? I am not really familiar with the legal stuff around using somebody else's work.
You're very welcome Nikolay. Fun stuff. I like 'fine tuning' using the methods that I have described because of the control that it allows as well as it gets the creative juices flowing.
As for improving your work, it's all subjective. If you and/or your client are happy with the results ..then it's great work!
Working with better photos? Certainly. It sure cuts down on the time involved. Personally, I like those photos that are challenging but I'm not working on a schedule either.
When a photo is posted here or within the other forum that I participate in http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/forum.asp?forum=1006, then they are there for you to do with as you wish. However, posting them elsewhere or using them for any other purpose, without the owners consent, is a definite no-no. There could be some legal problems for you accordingly.

Cheers!
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Old 04-23-2009, 02:55 PM
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cruel.frames cruel.frames is offline
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Re: First serious tries to retouch. Please comment

Hello again!
Thank you all again for the suggestions and information! I decided to be "spontaneous" and did already order a new Wacom Intuos3 tablet for as less as 200 euros! The size is A5 format, that is the middle size version. Can't wait to receive it and put my hands on it! Hehe... sometimes I am a bit too enthusiastic, but this helps me most of the times
Thanks again for the endorsement, and I hope I'll get used to it fast enough to show you some other stuff for critique
Take care,
Nikolay
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