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

Learned too many techniques and need fresh eyes

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  #1  
Old 01-16-2016, 07:51 PM
ctny ctny is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2015
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Learned too many techniques and need fresh eyes

Hey everyone! long time lurker on these forums, I've been studying ever since discovering Godmother's Dodge and Burn years ago. Since then I've played with other methods like frequency separation and have had interesting results in the past. This time around I feel like I'm bouncing around between multiple looks and taking things too far. I'm in quite the rut, if someone can lend me their eyes on here I'd be forever grateful. Personally, I feel like I'm failing to balance myself in the perfect "editorial" skin highlights and natural feeling light arena. I can't even begin on the issue of skin texture. Been sitting on this one for a few weeks and it does seem like each time i come back I want to start over. What do you guys think?

https://uploadly.com/7awnto1v
Thanks very kindly
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Old 01-16-2016, 08:15 PM
klev klev is offline
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Re: Learned too many techniques and need fresh eye

I can honestly sympathize with the desire to start over each time. You can get past it if you address the underlying strategic problems.

Your cheek has a weird highlight shape because you didn't respect the original anatomy. This can be resolved by studying it. Your local library might even have some anatomy for artists book on their shelves. Referring to that while you work will resolve most of your issues. Click the work on and off, and make sure you're going the right direction and that you didn't eliminate anything critical. The history brush can help if you do. I set history snapshots, because it's the easiest way to address it on a first pass.

I dislike the color. You went bluish with everything and it makes her start to become part of the background. I wouldn't go dark with the background, because her garments are dark. I would have stayed more neutral with her garments than the background.

You should also look at some ads containing silver jewelry. There are different variations on how to do the color of it, but I think the chains look flat right now. I usually go a bit blue/cyan but just barely. It might work if the black garment wasn't so blue right now. I don't think that look works for the garment, although it would be better if the background was more dynamic. The background is too clean to pull it together into a look.

The garment is problematic, but you shouldn't push it in to be form fitting to a bare arm. It's simply not designed to hug the armpit. If you really prefer that, at least try to do it without that wave in the crease. It gives the work away. Either way you're really patching something here, because ideally you wouldn't choose an image that works against the choice of wardrobe.

The problem that you encountered with the hand was created during retouching. When you darken an area like that hand, you don't want to increase its local contrast. That leads to blocked up shadows like the ones you see. Going back and trying to retouch them out just makes it look weirder. I would imagine you used a curves layer. Try reducing brightness and possibly contrast via a brightness/contrast layer. The implementation of that since CS6 is a direct channel scaling, which works much better than the pre-CS6 one.

I hope that helps. It's an overview, but feel free to ask specific questions.
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  #3  
Old 01-16-2016, 10:42 PM
ctny ctny is offline
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Re: Learned too many techniques and need fresh eye

Thank you Klev! Your note on anatomy is spot on, I do see that is a weakness of mine. Sometimes watching the pros do it makes it feel easy but, there is truly a method to knowing where to paint. How do you feel about the intensity of the D&B? you think if I better figure where to place my highlight and be sure not to eliminate anything vital, I'll be on the best track? I'm not sure in this case if I should go with a hard light effect, when my lack of skill in that arena tempts me to go with a soft roll off.

Thanks again, there's so much for me to keep in mind when I hit this first thing tomorrow AM. Would love to hear your take on skin texture as well. Do you fair towards noise and grafting foreign textures? Once I tackle my weak areas laid out here I'll be going after that area next.
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Old 01-17-2016, 03:10 AM
klev klev is offline
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Re: Learned too many techniques and need fresh eye

Quote:
Originally Posted by ctny View Post
Thank you Klev! Your note on anatomy is spot on, I do see that is a weakness of mine. Sometimes watching the pros do it makes it feel easy but, there is truly a method to knowing where to paint. How do you feel about the intensity of the D&B? you think if I better figure where to place my highlight and be sure not to eliminate anything vital, I'll be on the best track? I'm not sure in this case if I should go with a hard light effect, when my lack of skill in that arena tempts me to go with a soft roll off.
The anatomy issue is something I spot more than anything else. I mean there are times where people do things that I think look strange yet are clearly intentional, especially with cheekbones. I think if you just compare to reference while you're working, you will be okay.

I can suggest one site, which probably still has free samples. There used to be another site with a similar name that was primarily focused on artist reference rather than a starting point for cg textures. You need to compare constantly until you build up a sense for this. Even then you want to click your retouching layers on and off to make sure you really are going in the right direction. You actually save if you make fewer mistakes.

I really like some aspects of this, and I think on some parts you definitely chose a viable direction for a less than ideal image. Almost everything that's a major issue for me is anatomical. The nasolabial fold was made into a kind of greyish blobby line rather than lighter or narrower and still defined. I get that the highlight shape doesn't appeal to you, but I would leave that. It looks weird when changed. I would just bring the shadows down where you want them. I don't usually make it cut so sharply across the nose like that. It should probably have just a bit of transition. Lighting on the arm doesn't take the right shape, but again this is all anatomical. I think you'll be pleased by the improvement when you get that aspect down.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ctny View Post
Thanks again, there's so much for me to keep in mind when I hit this first thing tomorrow AM. Would love to hear your take on skin texture as well. Do you fair towards noise and grafting foreign textures? Once I tackle my weak areas laid out here I'll be going after that area next.
I don't add textures unless I am really bothered by a lack of uniformity. If I do I'm extremely careful, and I would only do it to even out something like the distribution of pores. I don't see the need for it in your image.

I don't sharpen quite as much as you did on the later versions. I can tell you that for smoothing I either just duplicate the background layer or use one of a couple methods that have worked for me before. I use a curves or channel mixer layer if I need to burn/dodge but need to tweak the color a couple points for a match. Otherwise I like the brightness/contrast layer in newer versions of photoshop. It matches my older strategy, which was to scale channels in channel mixer.
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