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Two questions about skin retouching

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Old 11-21-2009, 10:15 PM
cyberphonics cyberphonics is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2009
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Two questions about skin retouching

Hi everyone! I'm new here. I've been very happy with my retouching, but I'm always looking to learn new techniques. One thing I keep hearing people mention for skin is curves.

I know how to use curves so far as adding contrast to an image, lightening, or darkening it, but that's it. I have no clue how anyone can use it for evening out skin.

I've searched the forums for explanations and tutorials and I think there's something I'm missing because it seems to go into dodging and burning and I don't see why you'd need to be working with curves to do that, so basically, I don't get it and need to see it to understand what's happening.

Anyone have any video tutorials on using curves for skin or can maybe offer a clear explanation of where curves are actually coming into play?

Second question, while I was looking around for good video tutorials for new skin techniques (I'm a visual learner in case you haven't guessed LOL), I came across this one. I love the end result of the skin. It looks smooth, creamy, and shiny.

But I'm confused about what tool he's using on her face at the start. Any idea on what he's painting the skin with? It looked like he went into something like the levels dialog but then he right clicked and set a brush before he started painting her face.

Anyway, any thoughts would be appreciated!

Last edited by cyberphonics; 11-21-2009 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 11-21-2009, 10:51 PM
edgework edgework is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 494
Re: Two questions about skin retouching

You're probably talking about targeted curves.

Say you have some areas of a face that are blotchy; redder than the rest of the face. They aren't actually imperfections, just different color, and probably darker than is desired.

Sample an area that you want to match. Sample a nearby area that's blotchy. Choose both samples from around the midtones. Pinpoint precision isn't the goal, nor is it possible, so don't get too anal about it.

In a curve layer, for each channel, take the value for the red blotchy sample and plug it into the input field. Enter the value for the clean skin in the output field. Fill the layer mask with black.

Now the technique is pretty much the same as using a softlight, overlay or hard light layer to dodge and burn: soft brush, small radius, low opacity, pressure sensitive (if you're using a pen, which you should be). Paint white into the mask and let the curve pull the red towards the desired tones. The great thing about curves is that they distribute the transformation smoothly over the whole range, so variations in lightness will still be pulled towards the desired tones. The farther away from the base samples you get, of course, the less accurate you will be. For very dark or light regions, a second curve layer may be necessary.

You can clean up a major portion of the imperfections this way without messing with the underlying texture of the skin. You might even be able to take care of everything, but the areas that remain to be fixed will be small and close enough to the target that the healing brush can pretty much take care of them.

As for the video, it looks to me like he's using the healing brush.
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Old 11-21-2009, 11:00 PM
cyberphonics cyberphonics is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2009
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Re: Two questions about skin retouching

Ah, thank you so much. Yep, I think that's probably what's going on with the curves. The way I've been reading it, it sounded like people were "painting with curves" as if there was a curves brush or something, so I was getting insanely confused LOL

And thanks about the healing brush. Doink. What threw me off was showing that levels box first so I'm thinking it was some kind of brush related to it. *shaking my head*
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Old 11-22-2009, 10:08 AM
cyberphonics cyberphonics is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 20
Re: Two questions about skin retouching

Hey edgework, I found this:

This is what I was talking about. When people were just discussing it, I wasn't seeing anything about masks. So it read like what I said in my other post - like people were using the dodge and burn tool through the curves dialog or painting with a curves brush - which of course was making me say, "WTF? How are they doing that? Is that a feature I don't have?" LOL

Now seeing this, it makes sense to me. People were just talking about the curves adjustment layers and painting on those using its masks, which is how I use dodging and burning for skin so I'm not confused anymore. It's funny how people wording things a certain way can make it seem so foreign to you when it's the same thing you're looking at every day.

Thanks again!
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