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Feedback on how to improve first retouching?

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  • Feedback on how to improve first retouching?

    I'm brand new at retouching though I've been using photoshop off and on for several years now. I'm not particularly happy with this, and would love some feedback on how to fix it. I feel like the skin tone is perhaps too flat (not enough contrast) and also uneven still. I think I seriously need to work on my dodge and burn skills. I'm having issues making it look natural.

    I don't feel like this is unsalvageable, and I'd like to try to tweak it until it's actually good. I've currently got a lot of layers masked off that I can use to mess with whatever needs work.

    Here's what I've done so far:
    • Quick and dirty background extract with mask refinements (I know there's issues with the arm. I can fix this easily with the pen tool when the rest of the problems are ironed out)
    • Smoothed acne and pores with healing brush & patch tool
    • Tried to even out skin tone by sampling nearby colors and layering paint at a very low opacity.
    • Used fine layer blend-if adjustments to make this new painted skin layer blend with face and not totally kill highlights and shadows.
    • Set 2 layers at 50% grey in overlay mode for dodging and burning highlights and shadows. Tried to add in some highlights and shadows to make the face look less flat. (I have a feeling this is probably the part that needs the most work)
    • Cloned some hair and liquified a bit to cover up fly-aways.
    • Added some light mascara shading around the eyes with an overlay layer.

    Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    Image is here

  • #2
    Re: Feedback on how to improve first retouching?

    Hi rllr
    My personal opinion you have been spending too much time on the face and as such she now looks plastic like a mannequin and fatter to boot, have a look here for skin tones don't be intimidated by a subject with lots of skin pores, you have not enhanced the eyes enough for detail, she has great looking eyes make them pop. She now also looks like she has more hair than before and in doing so have distorted her head. Her hair apart from the face/eyes are her best asset, her stray hairs are ok to keep it looks natural. RHS shoulder is blurred. For colour open up the hair and face use your "info Pallet" in PS and lastly don't have light behind her at the base of the picture
    (makes her look like she sitting on a spot light)
    Hope that's some help like I say my personal input take it or leave it, but keep going it's a learning curve which never ends.
    Good luck

    PS good work for a your first effort
    Last edited by TopiToo; 04-19-2013, 05:03 PM. Reason: further text


    • #3
      Re: Feedback on how to improve first retouching?

      Really appreciate it. I think all of your assessments are fair and on point. I'll have a go at reworking it with that stuff in mind. Is there a particular method for making eyes pop? My inclination would be to use the adjustment brush for clarity and vibrance in Lightroom for something quick, but I'm not particularly familiar with more advanced methods for that sort of thing.


      • #4
        Re: Feedback on how to improve first retouching?

        Same thing as TopiToo said. This is way way way overdone, and it doesn't have any consistency. Ideally you want a consistent feel to texture and lighting. You should really be thinking about every change, not just painting and painting on that skin. The lighting overall isn't that bad, and i don't think things like the shine over the brow needs to be obliterated. That's a natural highlight. The bone is closer to the surface there, so you don't get a lot of subcutaneous reflection off blood vessels and things. In general women have softer brow lines than me, as you can see there even in the untouched version.

        The eyes aren't so bad. I might just match the darker one closer to the lighter one. Much of that is understanding how to mask and applying some level of adjustment. You can learn a lot by looking up closeups of eyes under different lighting and learning about the anatomy of the eye. You just learn how light tends to interact. Generally you would want to balance the brightness of the whites, the catchlights, and the falloff in various portions. I don't think you'll get those to completely match, but you want it to look a little better, and not so much like she has a lazy eye. Quick methods on eyes look like ass in the end. Learning to interpret them better would make far more sense.

        The texture in the skin really needed very little smoothing. If the tiniest pores felt too harsh, it could have been sharpened slightly less when processing the initial file. It's just about balance, but had you just cleaned up the major elements like zits and distracting stray hairs, the rest wouldn't have felt bad. Right now it doesn't look natural at all.


        • #5
          Re: Feedback on how to improve first retouching?

          Awesome. Just pointing these things out to me is helping me better process the types of things I should be looking at. I'm well aware of how to mask and do layer adjustments, even if I did a poor job if it here. I feel I probably need to work on developing a better eye for some of the anatomy and the way light interacts with it more than raw technical knowledge (not that I'm a master of this area either, but relatively speaking).

          I'm going to go take another crack at this in the next few days, be a little less sledgehammer-y with my approach and attempt to incorporate the advice I've been given.

          What kind of background is appropriate for this type of shot? I see how TopiToo's comment about how it "makes her look like she sitting on a spot light," but I'm not entirely certain what might work best for this sort of image.


          • #6
            Re: Feedback on how to improve first retouching?

            Originally posted by rllr View Post
            I feel I probably need to work on developing a better eye for some of the anatomy and the way light interacts with it more than raw technical knowledge (not that I'm a master of this area either, but relatively speaking).
            In my opinion while there are technical points that are needed to do many things sufficiently well (masking being one of the most important) they will be of very little value unless you have a fairly good idea of what you are trying to achieve visually. Otherwise you could kill hours and hours just squinting at the image trying various things. As for the spotlight comment, barn doors can give a penumbra effect that is slightly similar to that. Perhaps that is what he meant. It doesn't really fall off equally in every area, and I do find the one very dark corner kind of distracting. This really comes back to what you're trying to achieve visually. Even if your dexterity with the program improves, you will hit a pretty distinct plateau without some level of visual comprehension. I just mentioned anatomy because this happens to be a person. You have to consider the underlying structure when making adjustments, because these things can start to look weird very quickly.


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