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  • Retouching skin highlights

    Hi forum!
    I'm interested in how to retouch skin highlights.
    I don't know at all in which direction to adjust them. Highlights slider in ACR won't help (sure, it will do some work done but it will not evenly fix whole surface of highlight).

    For reference I'm attaching:
    1) one cropped image from raw file, no adjusments.
    http://goo.gl/r0EQyQ
    2) my retouching done with this problem unsolved
    http://goo.gl/CpKUPK

    3) reference where I would like my image to go futher
    Really love these highlights, and this is original. Looking at original file, looks like more diffused light source was used, would you agree?

    p.s. any advice what should I change to fix this during shooting? I did use really large light source here (softbox 70x140cm), about 1 meter from model at slight angle (without diffusion translucent white material at front, I think).
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: Retouching skin highlights

    That's not a large light source, but that doesn't matter. You have bigger issues than the highlight. On men you may actually leave a bit brighter highlight, as you don't need the sense of really soft skin. In the shots you like, there isn't that big of a difference in brightness from the first to the second. They smoothed out the transitions a bit, which can be done primarily with a little burn and dodge work, assuming you can set that up in a way that feels natural to you in terms of adjustment layers + tablet settings. It requires a bit of finesse, which is why I mention i that way. The photo itself could be better, but working from what you have I can tell you his chest is too bright, and the skintone could use a better balance overall. The shadows also have a very grey feeling. That could be improved in the lighting stage, but if you are where you are in post, you should still address them. I don't know what you intended to do with the background in the end. If it was me in an attempt to save this I would probably go with a deeper background around the edges, let the shadows go dark on the face (and contour some of the muscles a bit more) and let the background fall off in a similar manner further away from him. Combine that with deeper chest tones, better skintone balance, and better work on the scleras and irises. He has a terrible haircut, but there's nothing you can do about that.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Retouching skin highlights

      It's called dodge and burn, look up the tutorials, there are plenty on youtube, basically painting with light. There is no other way to get the "finished" look.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Retouching skin highlights

        Originally posted by klev View Post
        That's not a large light source, but that doesn't matter.
        Defining what's large and what is not is usually subjective. In this case I find light to shadow transitions to be more hard then not, so I would agree with you, it's really not large light source.

        Originally posted by klev View Post
        You have bigger issues than the highlight. On men you may actually leave a bit brighter highlight, as you don't need the sense of really soft skin.
        Great tip!

        Originally posted by klev View Post
        In the shots you like, there isn't that big of a difference in brightness from the first to the second. They smoothed out the transitions a bit, which can be done primarily with a little burn and dodge work, assuming you can set that up in a way that feels natural to you in terms of adjustment layers + tablet settings. It requires a bit of finesse, which is why I mention i that way.
        Maybe I should chose sample work more wisely. Let's look at how smooth highlights are here, and how for sure hard light source was used this time.
        Rule says, hard light source = harsh highlights, how did they retouch them to look so good (uniformly lit, and nice geometrically (circle) shaped)?

        I wanna say I think that harsh highlight can go in two ways:
        1) if it's a beautiful women's portrait, and some high fashion photography it can be exaggerated
        If it is some "high energy" athletic/bodybuilding shot, highlights on male portrait can also be exaggerated.
        2) But in this case of mine photo, I think highlights should be more subtle & better shaped.
        So I tried "Inverted high pass" technique following Natalia Tafarel instructions, and pushed results little bit better, but i can't solely rely on that technique (Natalia also warns not to overdo it). I can also try more d&b, but thought I was missing some "magic trick" (I know there aren't any), simply because d&b takes a lot of time, and each pixel has different luminosity value.


        tnx for all tips klev & skoobey

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Retouching skin highlights

          Originally posted by mix_ns View Post

          I wanna say I think that harsh highlight can go in two ways:
          1) if it's a beautiful women's portrait, and some high fashion photography it can be exaggerated
          If it is some "high energy" athletic/bodybuilding shot, highlights on male portrait can also be exaggerated.
          2) But in this case of mine photo, I think highlights should be more subtle & better shaped.
          So I tried "Inverted high pass" technique following Natalia Tafarel instructions, and pushed results little bit better, but i can't solely rely on that technique (Natalia also warns not to overdo it). I can also try more d&b, but thought I was missing some "magic trick" (I know there aren't any), simply because d&b takes a lot of time, and each pixel has different luminosity value.


          tnx for all tips klev & skoobey
          Defining large is subjective, however relative to the coverage that would typically be used if someone wants the effect of daylight or just to cover any large area, a 3x4' softbox is not large. That's not the important thing though. There isn't any trick, but I want to mention that your choice of methods at such a granular level (softlight vs curves vs grease pencil :P) is really a triviality in the overall piece. When choosing tools like that you should consider a couple things. Is it well controlled? At a stroke by stroke level, is it predictable? When you consider those things in the context of what you're doing, that's all that matters in terms of tool choice. Beyond that you have the greater issue of where you want to go with the image. I like this second choice less in some ways (skoobey probably knows why), but you shouldn't have too much trouble getting those highlights 90% where you want them without extreme measures. Bringing down the rest of the skin will make them appear brighter without clipping or compressing details, which is how I would go about it. As you can see she has deep tones elsewhere, and much of the time when you see this effect, it accompanies a deep tan skintone.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Retouching skin highlights

            To put it simply: he is to flat.

            In order to achieve "shine" highlights have to go against something darker.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Retouching skin highlights

              The best idea is to dig in google. So the common pattern across hi-end (and I mean hi-end) men fashion campaigns / underwear / vogues homme / interview kind of thing is, well, not smoothing out the highlights. This is a major difference from retouching women where you usually clip the highs using, say, selective colors to a warm and even tone giving a consistent feel.

              Now you cannot do the same with men because they start to appear gay and if you're going for a masculine look you should punch the contrast ratio and d&b very lightly to "sculpt" a model's body a bit.

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