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Best degree/academic background for retouching?

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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.

  • #2
    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.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

      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.

      Comment


      • #4
        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.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

          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.

          Comment


          • #6
            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.

            Comment


            • #7
              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, 12:42 AM.

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              • #8
                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

                Comment


                • #9
                  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.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

                    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).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

                      Every high-end retoucher I've ever interviewed had a background in fine arts before getting interested in retouching. Usually drawing or painting, but not necessarily (Chris Tarantino studied music).
                      Learn by teaching
                      Take responsibility for learning

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

                        Originally posted by klev View Post
                        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).
                        I shan't elaborate on the above, except to say that taking the time to develop a robust technical foundation in colour-theory has improved my workflow considerably.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

                          Retouch is about Color, texture, composition, harmony, Light, advertising (yes, it is form of advertising), film editing, etc, etc

                          Study any of the above to widen your horizon, you don't need any, but, it will be of great help to have strong back ground in subject listed above. Then, as it was mentioned, practice, practice and practice some more.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

                            Originally posted by Doug Nelson View Post
                            Every high-end retoucher I've ever interviewed had a background in fine arts before getting interested in retouching. Usually drawing or painting, but not necessarily (Chris Tarantino studied music).
                            You never interviewed me. I have a five year degree in English with a minor in decadence.

                            To answer the OP, do as much retouching as possible, but, commercially, because you need the pressure of a deadline to define yourself as a pro. Anybody can sit there and perfect a picture for days, but, when you have to have it done yesterday, that will teach you not to be a doodling schoolboy anymore. And DO NOT scoff at the necessity of learning 3D. That will seperate you from the rest of the people who think they're retouchers because somebody who doesn't really retouch professionally told them they were after accepting a high fee for photoshop instruction in one of their workshops/courses. They're becoming a dime a dozen, but, a good 3D technician can name his/her price. Yes, it's hard to learn, but, if you want easy, try being a barista.
                            The video instruction on this site is an excellent resource for learning the craft, btw, and a good value. Chris Tarintino's are awesome. The guy is a masking savant.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Best degree/academic background for retouching

                              Hey, just wanted to thank everyone for the help and suggestions. Sorry for the late reply; have been really busy.

                              I also wanted to say that I have been hired (almost certain; need to prove my skills, but won't be difficult) as a full-time retoucher for a photographer.

                              Regarding the topic, while a formal degree would have been good, I think I will instead focus on really improving my skills (Photoshop, photography and general understanding of light, anatomy, colour, etc). That, combined with buying and diligently studying Ben Willmore's Photoshop courses. After that, repeat, repeat and repeat.

                              Cheers and good luck!

                              Comment

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