Originally Posted by SixHouse
Clear to YOU, maybe. Art is subjective, or have you forgotten that? Sure we can all learn frequency separation then spend a few hours with pixel level dodging and burning
and end up with the same exact look that you see "all over the internet." Then pat yourself on the back with what a great job you did, and you'll still sleep on your futon, just ask oneredpanther. But here's a guy that has become wealthy and highly sought after for doing exactly what people on this thread make fun of! lol can you say bitter? To me THAT is creativity. Anyone can learn to "retouch skin." How come nobody on this thread has books, covers, and thousands of fans and people begging to work with them? Think about that for a while
Pixel level anything just means you don't understand basic technique in any kind of art. It's absolutely unnecessary to deal with near microscopic detail by hand, because it's eventually implied to the eye. I'll quote back from your first post.
He produces a smoothness that certainly doesn't look "real" but at the same time it works for him in a way that I've never seen it work before.
What about it is unique to you? You commented on the smoothness, yet you can find that in any magazine. I think you just need to learn more about the subjects. When you look at how things are captured in camera under certain lighting conditions and poses, you should be able to identify the representation of certain muscles and bones or fabrics. From that you can learn to extrapolate what is bolder or more toned down here compared to what you are used to seeing. That relates specifically to style. Beyond that point you started to convolute your own words by trying to tie his style to his business model. If you aren't simply trolling I would suggest that you examine what I just wrote. Even if you can't quantify it, many of the adjustments are obvious to me. It is possible to color correct lips to be a certain red. Tattoos appear to be explicitly emphasized. Eyes are definitely retouched. The smooth look you see in the skin can be obtained by matching his lighting and then smoothing it. From that distance dslrs don't typically capture anything too extreme in terms of skin detail, so with the right lighting it takes less than you might think. You certainly don't have to go pixel by pixel. Just get used to working around 100% and you'll be fine.
They vary quite a bit, but I'll try to nail down some key concepts that seem to be fairly consistent in browsing through the images. One of the things I think relatively inexperienced people miss is that while not everything is masked, things are masked when necessary. This can make it more difficult for someone to digest the work when they expect everything was adjusted more or less in a similar fashion. In some of the cheek areas of the subject, there's a lot of heavy shading around either the cheekbone or back even further. I can see the brush falloff, and really it is quite difficult to do that flawlessly (I've messed it up enough times to know). When you're going that heavy on it, it's very difficult to make it not feel a bit painted. I do see a bit of a pattern. The clothing or major accoutrements appear to be masked off in many of these, especially beauty shots. I don't know of any other way to really get some of those colors without messing up other parts. Skin may have been selected in any number of ways, but in most of these the saturation is definitely toned down. There are a few ways to approach it. Do keep in mind that highlights will typically have a somewhat different cast than the shadows. If that is lacking, they'll often have a painted over look. For the eyes, they are heavily retouched. Catchlights may have been moved. Irises are darkened a bit around the edges to make the person appear more focused. Lashes are retouched. That is a topic in itself.
Just being able to analyze these won't make it so that you can actually reproduce similar work, but to get somewhere for a start, you have to learn to pick up on details.