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

Building a Retoucher's Portfolio - GSPinto

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  #1  
Old 06-26-2013, 08:25 AM
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Gabriel Pinto Gabriel Pinto is offline
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Building a Retoucher's Portfolio - GSPinto

So, after my second return to the forum here, I present you this photo I took two years ago.
I intend to retouch it into a nice quality photo.

First I would like all of you -those who are interested, to tell me which step by step should I take for the retouching. I know all roads lead to Rome. Even so, lay down your thoughts.

I have read some books, watched some courses, some amateur videos, some professional videos about retouching. I know a bit about the commoners of Lynda.com and Kelby.com and I've seen the master pieces of our Godmother (Natalia Taffarel) which I currently "worship" not only in terms of work but also in terms of personality and life experience. I still want to check out Gry Garness DVD's, Karl Taylor, Saglimbeni and some others you may indicate.

And I have practice'd just a bit, and that is my biggest flaw which I intend to correct here and with anyone's altruistic help.
I also know that I have had very little inclination for art during my life (38y) and that for a good retoucher it is important to grasp the intricacy's of light and shadow, anatomy, color, feeling, power, emotion. That's also another aspect I'll have to feed.

Ok.
Assume I know all tools and techniques of Photoshop, because even if I don't, it will force me to look for it and learn by doing it.

Let the show begin.
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  #2  
Old 06-26-2013, 03:02 PM
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AKMac AKMac is offline
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Re: Building a Retoucher's Portfolio - GSPinto

Hi Gabriel,

I think a good place to start with the image you've posted is to consider simplifying the three-dimensional form of the face. It might help to view it in b/w. There are a lot of tonal variations which could be simplified using D&B to create a sense of the facial structure being built up from a relatively few simple planes. I think this would make the formal structure a lot easier to read.
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Old 06-26-2013, 06:39 PM
kav kav is offline
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Re: Building a Retoucher's Portfolio - GSPinto

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabriel Pinto View Post

And I have practice'd just a bit, and that is my biggest flaw which I intend to correct here and with anyone's altruistic help.
I also know that I have had very little inclination for art during my life (38y) and that for a good retoucher it is important to grasp the intricacy's of light and shadow, anatomy, color, feeling, power, emotion. That's also another aspect I'll have to feed.
.
I wouldn't bother watching endless dvds. There are only so many things that can be covered in the scope of a dvd, and they don't address the real problem you've mentioned here. You need strong art skills. If you're working on your own, you won't simply pick up enough to cope from working with others. They have to at least be at a point where you can roughly determine the goals with various actions. There are some things that tend to work well when it comes to addressing certain problems. That is why you see a lot of the same techniques repeated. It's just too limiting without some sense for perspective, lighting, and color. I often mention things like anatomy because the most common subject on here is people. It's just a matter of noticing things, especially when you sometimes have to rebuild or fill in areas that are hidden by undesirable elements.

Also I agree with AKmac if you're going to use this image. I really don't care for the fuzzy highlight in those eyes or a number of other elements. I would probably emphasize that back light on the hair if I liked the positioning of it, which I don't. I don't like that cheek makeup on her face. In my opinion it comes up way too high and kind of squeezes her head in a way. Combined with out of place feel to the lighting and so much brightness from the bottom up, I'm just not feeling it. There are too many things. I'm not big on the hairstyle. On top it's clear the stylist did some work to it, but I don't see detail there. I don't think deep shadows really work there at all, especially when it's accented with a seemingly slightly out of place light coming at her from the back, which is also causing that flare (flags, c-stands, and a hood might have prevented that). I'm not big on the girl's face, although doing a little shading work on the nose would help. If you're relatively inexperienced with this, you're going to have a nightmare of a time trying to get the hair to look good and another nightmare trying to nail those eyebrows and lashes. I think the brows need more detail to stand up to the extravagant lashes, and the highlights and colors in those fake lashes need to stand out on their own. Of course that will mean some real work on the eyes in general as you don't want these crazy lashes without striking eyes. The eyes, lashes, and brows require some amount of synergy in most shots. I don't see it here.

Ideally if you're trying to learn to do that kind of work, it would begin with strong art skills followed by work on the strongest photography possible that you aren't emotionally attached to. I would look at other images too to see what has worked. For example I always hate the super flat backgrounds. They have a tendency to diminish the sense of scale. Many are shot that way and adjusted slightly in post though. If you understand the colors it's not that difficult. Basically the lighter it is, the more it reflects the color of the light shining on it. The dimmer portions tend to show more of what you would generally think of as the background color. That in itself goes back to basic art skills. You'll find the common approach of just throwing a one point curve on it tends to yield inferior results.

Okay long explanation over, but you got some of this stuff right. Study perspective. Study anatomy. Look at lots of photos to get a feel for the difference in colors of highlights compared to midtones or shadows and a feel for how they represent things. It just makes the whole process much easier. I'm personally often lacking in good ideas, but I can look at most shots and imagine the originals, simply because I can picture the lighting.

Last edited by kav; 06-26-2013 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 06-27-2013, 01:24 AM
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Repairman Repairman is offline
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Re: Building a Retoucher's Portfolio - GSPinto

Good post Kav. Gabriel, rather than dive in to what is a difficult retouch I would get a few 'easy wins' under your belt - limbering up exercises if you like. Try dropping an airbrush shadow under a ball or removing small red veins from an eye or take a hand shot and make great nails. When you can do those really well try a colour change with curves. By getting good at the detail the big stuff will fall in to place.
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Old 06-27-2013, 04:23 AM
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Gabriel Pinto Gabriel Pinto is offline
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Re: Building a Retoucher's Portfolio - GSPinto

Thank you all for your honest inputs.

I see I might be putting myself over my head with this.
Any pointers to where I could look into kav's sugestions?

Regarding anatomy and the way light and shadow builds someone's face and body, where could I begin to learn the basics of drawing without getting into an expensive school or taking courses (spending considerable money is completely out of the question)? I was already looking for app's or software to help drawing but can't find anything.

Should I surf over fashion magazines like Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle? Fashion websites like fashiongonerogue.com? Which photographers photos should I pay more attention to?
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Old 06-27-2013, 04:40 AM
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AKMac AKMac is offline
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Re: Building a Retoucher's Portfolio - GSPinto

Just draw. There is no magic entry point. Just get started - copying is great, but drawing from direct observation, though far more challenging, will help to develop your ability to visually analyse three dimensional form, and to make tonal decisions regarding how to communicate 3D information in 2D. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the seemingly infinite aspects of picture making/analysis - so I'd suggest giving yourself a basic theme for study with each session of work you do, for example Quality of Line/Edge, Bold Light Shade Juxtapositions, Texture and Sharpness, Pattern etc etc
Absorbing as much imagery as you can from sources like Fashion Gone Rogue is definitely a "must", plus continuing to develop your knowledge of the traditional canon of photography and drawing/painting.
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:31 AM
edgework edgework is offline
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Re: Building a Retoucher's Portfolio - GSPinto

Don't overestimate the "art" part. Truth is, if you're hired to be a retoucher, they don't want an artist. Artists are the people you'll be working for. You need to think of yourself as a creative mechanic and learn how to use the material you are given as your primary asset.

There are numerous technical moves you can and should make that require you to recognize when things go too far, when they start to look cheesy, when you are destroying what is there instead of enhancing, but they don't require you to recreate the image at hand.

Here are some things that you can tackle immediately with the image you provided:

• Expand the tonal range. Right now, you have virtually no highlights, and lots of plugged up shadow detail. Using tools like Shadow/Highlights and curves simply embellish the pixels that are already there, opening up a wider range. Even if the intended effect is dark, somber and shadowy, you still need to let the natural contours of the face define dark and light regions to give the surface its shape.

• Color correction. Be judicious with this. There is no such thing as a correct color formula for skin. Everything depends on context and the desired effect. The only rule of thumb that always is applicable is that small moves are usually more than enough.

ª Retouching. The generally accepted wisdom is that one retouches before doing color. In the case of this image, if you are going to lighten it, you really won't know the full scope of problems that face you until you an actually see them. Healing brush and Dodge/burn are the two most common techniques, but targeted curves are a valuable tool as well.

• Sharpening. All images benefit from some sharpening. The trick is to not make it look obvious. Check out HIRALOM (also known as local contrast), which uses Unsharp masking to produce contrast that curves alone cannot achieve. There are numerous approaches and tricks to sharpening, all of which can be easily located with a Google search, but again, you probably need less than you think.

• Dodge and Burn. Essential. Tons of stuff here on the forum, tons of stuff written about it. Easy to explain, difficult to master. Practice. It works as a retouching technique, but also to enhance existing shadows and highlight, letting the natural contours of the face define your approach.

None of these require an ability to draw, sketch or paint. They are the work of an artisan, not an artist, and they are your stock in trade as a retoucher.

The most effective technique you will develop, assuming you're not just working on your own stuff, is learning how to coax your client's vision out of the dim recesses of his brain and into cogent instructions for you to follow. "Make it pop," "Make it look good," or the ever popular "Make it sexy," might mean something to him, but for you it's useless abstraction. Your job is to hit specs. In order to do your job, you have to get your client to tell you the specs. Sometimes, that's a far more daunting task than all the dodging and burning in the world.
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Old 06-27-2013, 11:33 AM
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Gabriel Pinto Gabriel Pinto is offline
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Re: Building a Retoucher's Portfolio - GSPinto

Hi guys,

It's not been a very good day for me, in the mood kind of sense, so I can't think very straight or very positive for that fact. Still symptoms of my current state...

Anyway I'm leaving here an attempt on the picture I posted earlier.

I just cleaned imperfections a bit;
Dodged and burned via curves;
Applied levels on the top of the hair;
Removed some loose hair;
Desaturated the redness of the eyes;
And sharpened the eye pupils with High Pass > Desat > Soft Light

Gotta pick up my kid now.
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Old 06-27-2013, 03:05 PM
kav kav is offline
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Re: Building a Retoucher's Portfolio - GSPinto

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabriel Pinto View Post
Thank you all for your honest inputs.

I see I might be putting myself over my head with this.
Any pointers to where I could look into kav's sugestions?

Regarding anatomy and the way light and shadow builds someone's face and body, where could I begin to learn the basics of drawing without getting into an expensive school or taking courses (spending considerable money is completely out of the question)? I was already looking for app's or software to help drawing but can't find anything.

Should I surf over fashion magazines like Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle? Fashion websites like fashiongonerogue.com? Which photographers photos should I pay more attention to?
I'm not exactly the pillar of success here, although I've made a living at it. What I find is that it's easy to start out just looking at an image and taking it in overall, but that tells you very little about how to match it yourself. When I mention drawing, part of that is for technical proficiency. I tend to want movements to feel natural, and they do have to be accurate. Otherwise you lose too much time repeating stuff and it gets mushy. Even illustrations off google work for anatomy. If you have some concept of the form of a product, it helps you understand when something is overdone or what it should look like if you have to get rid of a clump of hair on someone's shoulder. If you're going to look at a lot of magazines, you can often take away what was done. Someone's eyes wouldn't be that bright with that lighting. The irises wouldn't look that way. Hey her hands have no veins to carry blood, or just no one's skintone is quite that even. You can often tell what was done if you break it down somewhat, and right there you can see how it looks in the end.

Going solely from personal experience, instructions are often somewhat abstract. I just focus on some of those things because they can initially be difficult to break down. Some tools in photoshop and other software are not completely intuitive, and images themselves can have certain quirks. Hopefully the market in your area is better than it is in mine.
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