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

Best degree/academic background for retouching?

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  #1  
Old 08-29-2016, 09:46 AM
Keven Keven is offline
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Best degree/academic background for retouching?

Hello fellow retouchers,

I am currently studying photography at a reputable school. We are learning retouching and I am starting to develop a strong interest in making this a major part of my work.

The training we get at this school is good, but I was thinking there was maybe something specifically for retouching. I thought graphics design was what was needed, but it doesn’t seem the best for learning retouching at all (turns out it is more aligned with marketing).

What degree/academic background should a professional retoucher get?

Regards.
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Old 08-29-2016, 11:44 AM
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Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

I did graphics at college 40 years ago which was a fairly normal route in to retouching at the time. If I was starting out today I'd learn a top 3d package like Maya. You'd pick up photoshop at the same time making mods to your 3d work! Not sure where you live but many colleges in the UK offer Maya/digital imaging courses.
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Old 08-29-2016, 10:39 PM
Keven Keven is offline
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Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

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Originally Posted by Repairman View Post
I did graphics at college 40 years ago which was a fairly normal route in to retouching at the time. If I was starting out today I'd learn a top 3d package like Maya. You'd pick up photoshop at the same time making mods to your 3d work! Not sure where you live but many colleges in the UK offer Maya/digital imaging courses.
Hi Repairman. Thanks for the reply.

I'm sure 3D training would be beneficial for many people, but I already have a good foundation in Photoshop from studying at a very good photography school. I think 3D digital work would be very expensive and it would also require a lot of time of which I wouldn't be using for working photography gigs, no?

I am looking for really specific retouching programs/courses. Or is there even any at all?

Regards.
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Old 08-29-2016, 11:46 PM
skoobey skoobey is online now
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Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

So you are asking for a college degree, but a 3d Maya course is too expensive? Maybe you are not looking for a college degree but a working knowledge. They are not mutually exclusive.

Best experience you can get is practice. There are a million courses to teach you what to do, but to be good at them you need to work. Like a singer, going to school is great, but then you need to practice.
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Old 08-30-2016, 12:29 AM
Keven Keven is offline
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Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

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Originally Posted by skoobey View Post
So you are asking for a college degree, but a 3d Maya course is too expensive? Maybe you are not looking for a college degree but a working knowledge. They are not mutually exclusive.

Best experience you can get is practice. There are a million courses to teach you what to do, but to be good at them you need to work. Like a singer, going to school is great, but then you need to practice.
Well, if the degree/certificate/program is purely about retouching, it would be much more worth the time and money than doing whole 3D courses that, I imagine, would only somewhat help you get a grasp of the basics of Photoshop and basic lighting. That time could rather be used simply practicing retouching or doing photography. I could be wrong though, but doing 3D courses, at least to me, doesn't sound like the best path to become a good retoucher (especially if you already have a solid foundation with Photoshop and photography).

What I would like to know, and what I was referring to in the original post, is what—or if there are even any at all—formal training/degrees/programs there are available for studying retouching.
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Old 08-30-2016, 12:45 AM
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Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

Righto, but career wise you will be up against people who know both photoshop and 3d and combine the two very well. I have only ever seen photoshop taught as part of a formal course or as a 1 day to 2 week workshop. That is not quite the same as learning retouching though. There are a few experts who hold retouching workshops from time to time but you'd need to keep your eyes peeled for those events. They do pop up now and again on this forum.
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Old 08-30-2016, 01:30 AM
skoobey skoobey is online now
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Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

Repairman, that is only true for some genres of retouching. For example, I know 3D, and I still practice 3D, and I have a degree that involved 3D modeling.

BUT

I never use 3D modeling as part of my job. So, it can be an advantage for some positions, but irrelevant for others.

There are no formal training courses of that kind, that would be way too custom to your personal needs. For that you can become a part of an agency, and work and learn, or get private tutoring on the areas you're struggling with.

Last edited by skoobey; 08-30-2016 at 01:42 AM.
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Old 08-30-2016, 07:16 AM
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Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

Sure, it depends where you want to go with your career. 10 years ago I had no interest in 3D but now at least 50% of my work involves it to a greater or lesser degree. You can get by with just PS (I do!) but I'm assuming Keven is just starting out and may like to consider financially enhancing his career prospects. As mentioned, retouching is best learned on the job and within a team. Learn at someone elses expense
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Old 08-30-2016, 02:54 PM
Shoku Shoku is offline
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Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

Well, I have not seen any specific Degrees for retouching. But as the technology continues to change so does the need to know more about different aspects of image creation.

3D is now included in what Photoshop can handle. Object creation may not be as evolved as dedicated applications like Maya, 3dsmax, or Lightwave, but knowing how to import and manipulate 3D objects in Photoshop is becoming more necessary in some areas of the industry.

Gaining knowledge of what you need, in whatever arena you plan on focusing, has always been necessary. There may not be specific courses for degrees, but there is a lot of material that can help anyone hone their retouching skill and apply it to what they need to do - no degree necessary.
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Old 08-30-2016, 08:55 PM
klev klev is offline
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Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

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Originally Posted by Keven View Post
Well, if the degree/certificate/program is purely about retouching, it would be much more worth the time and money than doing whole 3D courses that, I imagine, would only somewhat help you get a grasp of the basics of Photoshop and basic lighting. That time could rather be used simply practicing retouching or doing photography. I could be wrong though, but doing 3D courses, at least to me, doesn't sound like the best path to become a good retoucher (especially if you already have a solid foundation with Photoshop and photography).

What I would like to know, and what I was referring to in the original post, is what—or if there are even any at all—formal training/degrees/programs there are available for studying retouching.

No it wouldn't. That would be a complete waste of money. The basic techniques are very simple. If you attend classes or workshops, these will cost a significant amount of money due to the cost of vetting instructors and renting a space. I can't think of anything that would justify it, and no one will ever care if they award a certificate.

I know two areas where people get stuck and/or plateau at a very high rate. The first is mechanical. I don't know if you're using a mouse or a wacom tablet, but you should be able to draw a decent circle, a straight line, and a smooth arc with little effort. Retouching work includes some amount of detail, and I find these to work as a basic sanity check. Generally you don't want to zoom in past 100% whenever possible, so if your dexterity isn't there, this will become much more difficult. Once you're able to pass that basic sanity check (if you can't right away, practice 10 minutes a day consistently for a month or two), learn to mask really really well using both the pen tool and something like quickmask for soft layer masks. It's one of the most important fundamental skills, and it's much easier if the dexterity is already there.

The second area is really judgement. You would probably learn more from illustration courses that focus heavily on rendering smooth detail. You also need some domain knowledge, meaning that you should understand basic anatomy if you're going to retouch images of people. You should look at jewelry if you're going to work on that. You will be surprised how much this helps your work.

On the subject of judgement, you should spend some time analyzing other work. People regularly post on here asking "how do I get these colors" or whatever variation on that. It helps to look at this work, because you develop a sense for times where the color used for a dress, lips, or a car would have required a somewhat different treatment than the rest of the image.

Some basic 3D knowledge is probably essential at this point. You don't need to understand a lot of it as the tools change. A lot of modern tools are slowly displacing things like UV mapping and stuff. It is however a skill that many shops will incorporate at this point. The older professional labs and things aren't really doing all that well at this point. As for maya a student license is free for non-commercial work (anything where you aren't accepting payment for that work or derivative work for any reason).
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