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airbrushing + me = mess

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  • airbrushing + me = mess

    Hi everyone,

    This is my attempt at airbrushing a base color, shadow and highlight on this picture. I'm going after the glam look but it still doesn't look right..! This is really bugging me - How do you airbrush properly?

    I can not do it.

    I used solid color for base and then brush set on color at 20% for shadows and highlights and then a gaussian blur to blend the color... I also masked the skin off(sloppy) and did another gaussian blur to smooth the skin, faded opacity...

    Am I hopeless?

    (I hope using this picture is okay)
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Hi Doosume,

    what I think is that the skin is a bit too smooth to be real... The details around her right eye (eyelashes etc.) have disappeared and, personally, I find the colouring a tad flat .....

    If you'd like to achieve a blurred, soft, dreamy look you could try to duplicate the layer, set the blending to either Soft Light or Screen and blur it very strongly... adjust the Opacity and, for a stronger impact, you could add a layer Mask and uncover the parts you'd like to keep sharp (eyes, part of the hair...jewellery, etc.) .... (decrease the Layer saturation if the procedure increases the saturation too much)

    If you 'airbrush' a base colour on, the danger is that you lose the different shades that make up a natural coloured complexion....

    As for shadows and highlights, you can use a colour airbrush, but I would change the Layer blending to either Soft Light or Overlay .... Just remember to always add a bit of noise, and to lower the opacity of the Layer. .... If, using a colour airbrush this way increases the saturation too much, just try black or white .....


    • #3
      Air brushing...

      The beauty of Photoshop is that there are limitless ways to achieve a desired result. The method I learned using the airbrush tool is rather elaborate but quite effective.

      It entailed creating a new blank layer (I usually labeled it 'retouch face' if it was the facial area). Opening the color palette, I sampled near the area to be retouched and selected the air brush tool with a soft edged circle usually a little larger than the area to be retouched.

      As was mentioned, there are many colors in the face and great care must given to selecting and changing the color you are working with to match the areas of the face as they change with the effect of light, skin tone and facial shape. It need not be 'perfect' but taking time to get the colors correct will help your 'correction' appear quite natural.

      After you have brushed in what appears to be a satisfactory 'make-up job' you will need to add 'noise' to match the grain of your original image. Depending on the image, sometimes adding monochromatic noise works better than 'full color' noise. In order to understand and see what I am referring to, you need to magnify a very small area to 200%-400% to enable you to see an area of the grain from the original image and the smooth grainless airbrush 'make-up' you just applied.

      Depending on the film you scanned or digital camera you used, you can expect to add as little as 1.5% to 3.0% gaussian noise. If you are working with a color image, inspect the grain of the image closely, you will see either multi-colored specks or what appears to be mostly dark specks surrounded by color or lots of little colored specks with the skin color throughout.

      In the box of the 'Add Noise' filter, check the box for 'monochromatic' on and off several times to compare the 'noise' to be added to the grain and use whichever matches closest to the grain of your image. This will vary according to color, lighting and other factors.

      After adding the 'noise' you then need to do a gaussian blur of not more than .3 pixels (that is 'point 3' not simple 3!) I have used more depending on the amount of 'grain' in the image, but too much destroys the integrity of the noise and you lose the effect of grain.

      The final step is to adjust the opacity so that the details of what you just covered just barely come through or are hidden to an acceptable degree so as to appear lessened and mostly invisible. Allowing a hint to show through gives a more natural appearance. If your client is an older person removing all of their facial aging is sometimes offensive to your client so you need to experiment with allowing some to show through before making your 80 year old client look like a 40 year old (yes, it can be done!).

      The noise added to the airbrushing gives the feel of the grain, and adjusting the opacity gets rid of that 'painted over' look you have in your image here. The airbrush tools remove the natural roughness of the skin and grain because the color painted on is one homogeneous color. Adding in the noise introduces other colors that more closely resemble 'natural' colors as they appear in nature. Nothing in nature is made up from ALL of the same color, but varying degrees of colors that add shape and texture.

      Adjusting the opacity futher enhances the effect by allowing a more natural appearance of some of the lines of the face to 'poke' through, giving the face a 'real' appearance instead of the usual heavy handed Photoshop look seen in too many photographs. This method, while seemingly more complex, actually is simpler than blurring the entire image then correcting for sharpness where needed as you are only correcting those areas that need 'enhancement' and not the entire image.

      Additionally, some lines or wrinkles may not be effectively removed unless you do severe blurring which would degrade overall image quality and give a 'dreamy' look to your image. If your client is an actress or model that needs an accurate likeness of themselves, blurring will not work.

      If after you have done this retouching, you want that soft glamorous glow you can merge the retouch layer with a copy of the original photo, and copy this retouched version and use it in the same manner as described earlier by Flora. (I usually use copied layers of my 'retouch' layer and the original image to merge in case I need to increase or decrease the amount of retouch after the client sees it. I hate destroying any work or layer and simply turn them off after merging the copies. Bigger file sizes(?), yes, but I do not have to go and redo all the initial work again.)

      I have never tried to explain this technique to someone withhout them being present at a computer watching me, and hope this explanation is clear and unambiguous. This is really a very simple correction that takes some practice. I will admit it took me a long time (hours) the first few times, but I can do some pretty extensive retouching in a few minutes now, so do not be discoraged if this sounds too complex... practice, practice, practice...


      • #4
        Great description Chaz, you may not be sat next to me at the PC, but your description (and reasons for doing things) were crystal clear. To me at any rate. Thanks a lot, I'll be trying this.


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