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Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

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  • Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

    Goddamn it. I never thought I'd do one of these. I almost loathe myself for posting a "demystification of..." thread but Pavel Novikov's technique has been mystifying me for about a year now and despite repeated attempts to understand it, I cannot.

    His Flickr stream notes that he uses an FX camera with fast telephotos and 3-light setups - no problem, the lighting and shallow DoF in itself is perfectly simple.

    However, there is something going on here, here, here, here , here and definitely here that is outside of my experience and expertise to explain.

    There is something going on with the eyes and lips that makes them... pop.

    * For the eyes I can see that he has a tendancy to whiten the scelra, darken the ring around the iris and do a kind of radial lightening of the iris itself - but is there something else happening too that compounds this effect?

    * The skinwork alone is very impressive, but do you think anything novel is involved beyond extensive d&b carving and highlights and desaturation?

    * All the lips have an unearthly shine that looks neither wet like lip gloss, nor matt like any makeup I know of... what kind of retouching do you think happens here to create this 'matt shine' ?

    * Generally the images (and particularly the last one) have a smoothe painterly look that partially whispers tonal contrast, yet is missing the small local contrast elements that would normally give it away - how do you think this is achieved?

    -

    It frustrates me to make a thread like this, since I've been photoshopping for 11 years now and retouching for 2 - but I've run to the end of my road of reverse-engineering and now seek the advice of my more knowledgeable peers!

    Panth

  • #2
    Re: Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

    Fake DOF - added lens blur in EVERY IMAGE
    Color contrast - Warm skintones - neutral warm - I use gradient maps - most of the tones are controlled in the sense everything is a bit colorized to keep it even
    D&B - added HL and Shadows

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

      How to you colorize images to keep skin tones even like this?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

        Hi Natalia

        What indications do you have that the DoF is faked? I looked more carefully and can see that perhaps there are some regions where the bokeh zone has what looks like a sharper duplicate of itself running underneath - the left shoulderline here for example. This would be concomitant with a Lens Blur layer masked on top of the original. That said though, it's not out of the question that 135mm f/2 on full-frame would produce DoF this thin though, is it?

        Could you perhaps explain a little more about your gradient map theory? I've never understood them to be honest, only insofar as making the colour of an image change over distance (ie, from top to bottom or corner to corner) - not for uniform colour across an entire image which is what you seem to imply here?

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

          Hello, folks... while I am really new to retouching, I have voraciously absorbed whatever I can find on these techniques. Gradient maps are covered on Gry Garness' DVD, but if you don't have access to that, there is a thread about their use on MM
          ...hope that helps
          Last edited by powers.joel; 08-10-2011, 10:08 AM. Reason: spelling of 'their'

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

            Originally posted by oneredpanther View Post
            Hi Natalia
            Could you perhaps explain a little more about your gradient map theory? I've never understood them to be honest, only insofar as making the colour of an image change over distance (ie, from top to bottom or corner to corner) - not for uniform colour across an entire image which is what you seem to imply here?
            You're thinking of simple gradients. Gradient maps are accessed in the adjustment layers option. They are a way to completely remap the colors in your image. They use the grayscale profile as a set of slots into which the new colors of the gradient are substituted. In an 8-bit image, there will be 256 separate values of grey. If you imagine your gradient as being broken into 256 steps from left to right, each step will be applied to its corresponding value in the image. Keep in mind that in a low contrast image, or one with weak shadows or highlights, the actual range of the gradient will be truncated based on the values in the image. You may have an extremely dark color at the left edge of the gradient, but if your darkest shadow reads 30 or 40, none of the tones below that point in the gradient will be applied. That's why you move the color sliders around on the gradient, looking for the perfect fit between the new color range and the actual profile of the image.

            Works great for changing the color of fabric. Trickier in skin tones, since skin has so many different hues, saturation levels and values bumping up against each other. If you try to totally replace skin tones with a map, it will look awful, due to the vast amount of skin tone information that's excluded from any gradient. That's why you always hear of them being used at lower opacities and various blend modes. It's easy to push the overall range of tones towards, hot, cool, yellow, depending on the gradient used.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

              Well it's really hard to tell without a before/after. My bet is that original photos where pretty impressive in fisrt place, after that lots D&B and color treatment. That may sound trivial, but I doubt those photos are that good if just for retouching only. Just my 2c.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

                Originally posted by oneredpanther View Post
                Hi Natalia

                What indications do you have that the DoF is faked? I looked more carefully and can see that perhaps there are some regions where the bokeh zone has what looks like a sharper duplicate of itself running underneath - the left shoulderline here for example. This would be concomitant with a Lens Blur layer masked on top of the original. That said though, it's not out of the question that 135mm f/2 on full-frame would produce DoF this thin though, is it?

                Could you perhaps explain a little more about your gradient map theory? I've never understood them to be honest, only insofar as making the colour of an image change over distance (ie, from top to bottom or corner to corner) - not for uniform colour across an entire image which is what you seem to imply here?
                That was one that gave it up for me - that and the selective sharpness of the "subject" in all of them - Look closer there are a few images with that kind of gave away - I could be wrong of course - but I'd bet on it

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

                  Originally posted by edgework View Post
                  You're thinking of simple gradients. Gradient maps are accessed in the adjustment layers option. They are a way to completely remap the colors in your image. They use the grayscale profile as a set of slots into which the new colors of the gradient are substituted. In an 8-bit image, there will be 256 separate values of grey. If you imagine your gradient as being broken into 256 steps from left to right, each step will be applied to its corresponding value in the image. Keep in mind that in a low contrast image, or one with weak shadows or highlights, the actual range of the gradient will be truncated based on the values in the image. You may have an extremely dark color at the left edge of the gradient, but if your darkest shadow reads 30 or 40, none of the tones below that point in the gradient will be applied. That's why you move the color sliders around on the gradient, looking for the perfect fit between the new color range and the actual profile of the image.

                  Works great for changing the color of fabric. Trickier in skin tones, since skin has so many different hues, saturation levels and values bumping up against each other. If you try to totally replace skin tones with a map, it will look awful, due to the vast amount of skin tone information that's excluded from any gradient. That's why you always hear of them being used at lower opacities and various blend modes. It's easy to push the overall range of tones towards, hot, cool, yellow, depending on the gradient used.
                  Nice explanation here

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

                    Originally posted by edgework View Post
                    If you try to totally replace skin tones with a map, it will look awful, due to the vast amount of skin tone information that's excluded from any gradient. That's why you always hear of them being used at lower opacities and various blend modes. It's easy to push the overall range of tones towards, hot, cool, yellow, depending on the gradient used.

                    Exactly

                    This is how I use them http://nataliataffarel.tumblr.com/post/5766971334/color

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

                      If you're going to map color to skin you should also consider bringing the image in really flat, add mapping layers, do curves and whatever else for contrast on layers above this. It'll sort of seat the color a bit better that way. This does not fix everything and opacity/blending modes/etc. should still be considered as they remain relevant.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

                        Thanks everyone.
                        I'm really impressed with the gradient map concept now that I understand it. I gave it a go last night and the potential implications really blew me away; I'd never considered remapping skin colour this way - it's very useful when applied selectively and with restraint to certain areas.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Pavel Novikov - Reverse Engineer Technique

                          Fake D.O.F. giveaway.
                          if he put the focus on the eyes, 1/3 should be sharp in front 2/3th behind.
                          His images seem to have more d.o.f to the front instead of the back.

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