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

A little help with my skin texture please!

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  #1  
Old 06-13-2012, 08:16 PM
JoseMiguel JoseMiguel is offline
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A little help with my skin texture please!

No matter how much brushing and healing or any of the high pass tricks I try I can never get textures to flow as smoothly as this example image...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pavel-n...in/photostream

Here is a perfect example... Working on a image to make my first submission. Even though I doubt the effort is up to par, I love working in teams and pushing myself to do better.

Shouldn't it be easier to smooth this out since it's already pretty smooth without blurring?

https://www.dropbox.com/s/4f1asorh26...smoothlegs.jpg

I dodge and burn for hours and it never gets quite as even as the high end retouchers get it... I get little pockets of ultra fine pixels that bunch up... if I heal them, they just move to the edges... cloning softens the area or disrupts the luminosity values. If I heal again to bring the texture back the ultra fine pixels comeback lol Dodging and burning these areas is really hard to see even with the contrast and desaturation techniques.

I hope I explained my problem well enough. If not some suggestions of how to smooth those legs without blurring will help.
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  #2  
Old 06-13-2012, 08:41 PM
kav kav is offline
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Re: A little help with my skin texture please!

These are small. Can you post something where it's possible to see where you're having problems? What are you trying to accomplish with the high pass filter? On the legs, you've got a little noise, but in terms of trying to clean that up slightly, it doesn't need very much. It's only confusing if you don't know how to interpret the shapes. It looks like you've been messing with it already. Post some stuff that you haven't touched as well. Looking at the legs, it looks like you messed with them quite a bit unless the detail is just a bit soft due to shadowing.

It's really not that difficult to address. You probably don't know how you want it to look. Have you considered what you want from the end result? You're posting lists of techniques to address a very very generic issue rather than trying to determine what you want from the image. If it's just that you want them to look smoother, a little burn and dodge work and a bit of color correction would do it. It shouldn't take very long as these aren't that problematic.

Post examples of the bunching up.

Out of curiosity, what are you submitting this for?

I like the first one more. What was lighting it and do you have an untouched version? I want to see if something is lighting or adjustment.
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  #3  
Old 06-15-2012, 12:36 AM
JoseMiguel JoseMiguel is offline
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Re: A little help with my skin texture please!

Hey Kav, Thanks for your very attentive response. Also would like to thank you for all your valuable posts. They have saved me hours of mindless clicking to say the least. I have been trying to achieve very smooth transitions between the tones in the skin but haven't been able to get it how they do it in magazines like vogue.

http://media.onsugar.com/files/2011/...il_feb2011.jpg

http://media2.onsugar.com/files/2012...oguebrazil.jpg


on the top of the image I worked on, the transitions are better because I had a reflector filling that part in but I didn't have a big enough one to reach the bottom.

Still what you said about working with the shapes and the comment about noise help me pushed it that much closer. Something is missing and I can't address the following trouble spots in a effective way.

I included the original and the retouch and the trouble spots ...

the first image from the original posting isn't mine... it was merely the sample for how I want the transitions to look like. Let me go further and note that obviously shooting it right in camera is the first step but I messed up on the bottom and now am trying to fix it

Also, like I said was going to try and submit these to a mag. The model gave me a few to try including kurvmag. While I don't think it will fit their luxurious styles as is. I see it as a way to start working with teams and to improve since I just can't hire help as needed. Meaning I have to actually get good if I plan to keep working with other talented people.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/44prgfglkb1ofuq/BZmDNZtcmq

to see in full resolution click the full view button on the lower right hand corner.
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  #4  
Old 06-15-2012, 01:01 AM
kav kav is offline
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Re: A little help with my skin texture please!

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Originally Posted by JoseMiguel View Post
I included the original and the retouch and the trouble spots ...

the first image from the original posting isn't mine... it was merely the sample for how I want the transitions to look like. Let me go further and note that obviously shooting it right in camera is the first step but I messed up on the bottom and now am trying to fix it
I get you, and thanks for the kind words. None of this stuff is a big secret, but I've gone through bad habits too. I see what it is that you dislike, but I wouldn't totally remove it. It might look too sanded down. You can blend some of it with burn/dodge, but on problematic patches, just rebuild them and adjust lighting on the rebuilt patch to match. There's no reason to fight with it. Keep in mind I'm super picky on accuracy. I can draw things from scratch completely within photoshop with smooth lines and curves, and I think it's important to have that level of accuracy. Otherwise you put down 1000 brushstrokes that are each just a tiny bit off, and the cumulative effect can be quite frustrating. I try to put down fewer strokes in the right places with greater accuracy.

Okay I'll give you my take on the Vogue covers. Green background is obviously adjusted separately. It has more contrast. If you hit the skin with that overall, you'd make it rough. They darkened the corners and bumped the green slightly. Eyes are popped, lips are balanced separately, cheeks may be contoured. They toned down some of the bones in the hands and definitely filled gaps in that hair. The shadow under the chin looks slightly darkened to seat/frame the face. Looking at the distribution of wrinkles in the clothing, it has to be pretty retouched. Clothing is a pain in the ass. With the skin they just didn't jack up curves much. They would have evened out color, balanced density, contoured like I mentioned and that is basically it. It looks rich enough because the lighting is smooth overall, and it's not going pasty due to heavy curves.

On the other note the eyelashes were most likely rebuilt. They look slightly sharpened. I can draw some mean lashes. Again lip color is balanced however they wanted it. It looks like it has some moderately broad burn/dodge work to give some overall contrast to the lighting without creating weird problems.

It's not really some big secret. It's kind of like don't over estimate the amount of contrast needed for the skin, and make your adjustments based on improving the lighting. If you saw these in print, they'd have texture. Smoothing out the fine texture is an area where you have to be really careful or it just becomes flat. Anyway I guess I enjoy doing the little breakdowns. I don't catch everything, but it should give you kind of a starting point. Look at lots of reference too. If you're trying to figure out how they did something like this, pick up a printed copy and keep it next to you while you work. You're stuck on stuff that's relatively simple, but you must keep in mind how it will look at its final size. While you can make it look really huge on screen, things look different when they're smaller in size yet displayed at a higher resolution.
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  #5  
Old 06-15-2012, 01:22 AM
JoseMiguel JoseMiguel is offline
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Re: A little help with my skin texture please!

Alright, I understand. You are right about the 1000 brush strokes, that's me all day and the flat part too. My basic lighting is improving little by little, time to order another reflector. Maybe two more.

I rebuilt that nasty looking arm and went in on the unevenness! got it pretty good However, I already order an extra reflector and gobo to avoid such fatal errors in my initial capture.


Thanks again for your help.

Last edited by JoseMiguel; 06-15-2012 at 08:06 PM. Reason: Completed!
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  #6  
Old 07-18-2012, 11:36 AM
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ray12 ray12 is offline
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Re: A little help with my skin texture please!

The cover shot image you show has the characteristic look of being shot with a light called a "Beauty Dish". The beauty dish light is called the beauty dish because of its exceptional look. The beauty dish lighting fixture produces gorgeous, smooth transitions, and marvelously deep shadows and it creates dazzling highlights on the cheeks. A beauty dish, and a beautiful model, with pro makeup, and some good attitude posing, will almost always produce an image that makes your jaw drop. Its not so much the retouching you see in the image...as much as its a special image to begin with that is way beyond the range of amateur photographers. So your original images will have that great smooth, contrasty, specular look built right into them even before retouching... just because they were shot with a beauty dish.

Another thing...if you photograph an image with an average camera you might have maybe 5-7 f stops capture range from lightest to darkest...but with a $14,000-$40,000 hasselblad or phase 1 camera with a 30-50 megapixel back you can get 11 f stops of dynamic range. What that means is that you can have your shadows get 2 stops deeper and your cheek highlights get two stops brighter with a camera back like this. What this means is that you will get these great contrasty looks with great highlights on the cheeks and skily smooth shadows on the neck. If you shoot that with a $2500 camera you will maybe get 7 f stops of dynamic range.

SO...when you see an image lit with a beauty dish...and shot with a $40,000 high dynamic range camera...Your eyes are going to pop out of your head...and you are going to wonder "How can I retouch like that? Its not only the retoucher that is responsible for covers like that. Its the original lighting and the camera work and the pro makeup that adds alot to the final image.

Its not about retouching ..its about the original image. Retouching a 30 megapixel image is a real treat too...because you can see every pore on the skin clearly and retouching it to perfection is possible and its a treat to work on images like that as a retoucher. The sharpness, the gradation, the specularity and contrast range are all amazing in the original image...even before the retoucher gets to work his magic!!

Cheers,

Heres my favorite video about what a beauty dish is and how to use it...and how its all shot with a $20,000 camera.

http://fstoppers.com/fstoppers-conte...n-sean-armenta

Ray
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  #7  
Old 07-18-2012, 05:17 PM
kav kav is offline
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Re: A little help with my skin texture please!

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Originally Posted by ray12 View Post
Another thing...if you photograph an image with an average camera you might have maybe 5-7 f stops capture range from lightest to darkest...but with a $14,000-$40,000 hasselblad or phase 1 camera with a 30-50 megapixel back you can get 11 f stops of dynamic range. What that means is that you can have your shadows get 2 stops deeper and your cheek highlights get two stops brighter with a camera back like this. What this means is that you will get these great contrasty looks with great highlights on the cheeks and skily smooth shadows on the neck. If you shoot that with a $2500 camera you will maybe get 7 f stops of dynamic range.
While there's quite a difference, especially in the way they capture things like eyes, you can fake a surprising amount of this. A lot of covers are also shot on dslrs, which if used correctly can also produce immense pore detail. Digital backs shot up in popularity as soon as the 22MP backs started to hit. That was 20004? 2005? something in there. Anyway take a look at the recent Nikons. While Phase one remains ahead, they can provide some impressive results. Either way you can find good and bad lighting from either one, or good lighting where the subject simply moved in a way that made it no longer good (obvious if you look at lighting check frames).
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Old 07-18-2012, 05:46 PM
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ray12 ray12 is offline
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Re: A little help with my skin texture please!

Hi Kav,

I agree. The new Cannon 5D's and Nikon 800's are very price effective dslrs with the megapixel range of some of the older medium format cameras...and they are costing $3000-$5000 instead of $14,000-$35,000. So yes, we will be seeing some shifts in the industry and in the images newer photographers are able to produce.

When I think about retouching...sometimes I need to remind myself that images produced with a professional team are the best images.

---------------------------

One more small point. In lighting... if you shine a light across a bump on the wall or a on face pore...it really highlights the texture ALOT. If you light in straight on...the light gets into the center of the pore and lights that up too...so there is less visual contrast in each point of skin. So, cross lighting really makes skin pores POP...and those are the kind of images I love to get asked to retouch to start with.

If you really want an image with KILLER SKIN PORES you will:

1. Contract with and likely pay a model who has really great skin to begin with

2. Pay a knowledgable makeup artist who knows how to oil and airbrush the skin and not clog up the pores

3. Have a lighting team that knows how to cross light the skin... to bring out the texture... and who use a beauty dish to create soft, contrasty lighting, that pops with gorgeous specular highlights.

4. Use a camera that can capture all the shadows and all the hot shines... and still retain detail in the highlights (read:expensive camera sensor)

5. Hire a retoucher here that loves working on each skin pore as a labor of love and who appreciates true beauty.

It really is a Team Effort to be able to produce an image that has it all!!

Its not only retouching...although its the part we love the best!!

Cheers

Ray

Last edited by ray12; 07-18-2012 at 05:53 PM.
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  #9  
Old 07-18-2012, 06:01 PM
kav kav is offline
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Re: A little help with my skin texture please!

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Originally Posted by ray12 View Post
Hi Kav,

I agree. The new Cannon 5D's and Nikon 800's are very price effective dslrs with the megapixel range of some of the older medium format cameras...and they are costing $3000-$5000 instead of $14,000-$35,000. So yes, we will be seeing some shifts in the industry and in the images newer photographers are able to produce.
I know what you mean regarding the way things light. Sometimes you have to fake some of that if you're trying to adjust lighting in post as someone moved or whatever. Drawing a highlight adjustment alone even with appropriate falloff can look weird if it's just flat. There are plenty of ways of adding some of that skin texture back in terms of where things are held back in the layer mask, but I won't go into that.

My point was only that no one should be discouraged by lack of the most expensive camera, as these things have stabilized somewhat in the past few years. We're way past the point where only the absolute most expensive models make the good enough cutoff, and the differences have tapered off somewhat. The newest ones look quite good, and we're finally seeing a trend away from super strong anti aliasing filters, which also helps. I just don't want anyone to believe they can't make a good image without that. As for makeup, I personally find it easier to work with a very light foundation whenever possible. It's never fully possible to mask blemishes in makeup, and I can do a better job in post.
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Old 07-18-2012, 06:37 PM
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ray12 ray12 is offline
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Re: A little help with my skin texture please!

YES,

The recent new Cannon and Nikon cameras have invaded the medium format world...and have made producing killer images available to a whole new class of photographers. You no longer have to mortage a camera body...you can now get a high end result with very reasonable priced camera NOW. The world just changed by a big jump in the last few months! I am very very happy with cameras of that higher quality now being priced at a reasonable range. Now I can afford one too!!

A great model...a good makeup artist...some nice hot lights...a big boys camera for a good price...and a passion for retouching...what a life!! Died and went to visual heaven!
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