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How did you learn the "soft skills" of retouching?

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  • How did you learn the "soft skills" of retouching?

    We've done lots of sharing about the "hard skills" of photo retouching/restoration - by that I mean how to use the tools in PhotoShop or other photo editing software.

    Could we start a discussion here about how you all learned the "soft skills"?

    What I mean by "soft skills" is how to know when an image looks it's best, when the color is right, the shading, the shadows etc.

    How did you learn, what training was the most valuable, least valuable etc.

    I'm sure many of the people here don't have any formal training and now that they've mastered some of the hard skills, they're ready to improve their mastery of soft skills.

    Just a thought,

  • #2

    I think the greatest skill in retouching is to know when to stop. I started retouching with brushes and in the absence of Ctrl-Z the finish point was rapidly learned.
    Last edited by chris h; 08-11-2002, 04:34 AM.


    • #3
      I learned my soft skills a long time before I learned my hard ones - as a child.

      I was a sort of "art freak" from the time I could pick up a pencil. My poor, exasperated grade school teachers were forever "suggesting" that I quit drawing and pay attention to the lesson at hand. In high school, I was the resident art-geek, taking every art class possible and then spending my free periods in the art department just fiddling.

      It all sort of came together when I met my first actual photo retoucher/mentor and fell in love (with the art, not the retoucher )

      The invention of Photoshop was just a bonus I could never have dreamed of in a zillion years. What a happy girl I was when I discovered it!


      • #4
        Very interesting. I was more of a writer and reader at a young age - always had my nose in a book and liked making up stories. I'm beginning to think I ought to have picked up a paint brush every so often.

        If you knew someone who could only take one class, what type of class would you recommend Jak?? - drawing, photography, or something else.

        Chris, I'm realizing that I don't know when to stop - I sometimes get into the nitty things and can't stop and it goes on way too long.



        • #5
          Good question, Margaret. And a tough one to answer.

          All of the art classes I've taken have helped in some way (sculpture, drawing, pen & ink, silversmithing, photography, etc...). But I guess if I could name only one, it would be painting. Specifically portraiture and animals. I'd make sure it included a section on anatomy as well.

          With that, you can learn color choice and blending, how to use light and shadow to create depth, how bodies of creatures are put together... All kinds of very useful stuff for restoration work.


          • #6
            That is good to know. Will look into fall classes.

            so much to learn, so little time,



            • #7
              Studying Weston, Adams, White, etc.
              Learn by teaching
              Take responsibility for learning


              • #8
                and what she said about the invention of PS.
                Although I started in PS 2.5 in '95, I didn't get my own puter til '99, and that's when I started getting serious, but with only a mouse, and not know of other options, I did a lot of cut and paste, and cloning. Although, I wasn't creating anything much, I was learning the feel of the tools. Wish I could have started a long time ago. When I got the Wacom last christmas, it was like going home, it felt so natural in my hand.
                Included a sample of what I was doing 2 or 3 yrs ago, and how I got the soft touch.
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  Originally posted by chris h

                  I think the greatest skill in tetouching is to know when to stop.
                  Excellent point Chris.

                  To answer the question...I learned the "soft skills" in college while earning a shiny BFA in studio art. (does anyone know what career I'm now qualified for? )

                  I totally agree with Jak, if you can find a good painting class to take, by all means enroll! ...or better yet, a life drawing class will teach you a tremendous amount about shading, anatomy and drawing.


                  • #10

                    Just by doing it, I suppose. I guess I liked to draw, never got into painting at all, but always loved photography. I used to wish I could change little flaws in my photos, and when Photoshop came out, I was hooked. Now I never use a photo "straight" but always correct color a bit or clean up background etc. before printing it to display or give to Grandma, etc. It's gotten so that I hardly know what's real and what's "photoshopped!"

                    Loving it here!

                    Phyllis Stewart


                    • #11
                      I did a general introduction to pencil drawing last year, it was only over a weekend but gave a lot of good insights into the subject. A couple of the people on the course were absolute 'naturals' when they got a pencil in their hand, having a grasp of form and perspective when doing some of the set work drawing of the set objects etc. The ambiance of the class was upset somewhat by oaths and curses as I lacking similar gifts burned through a crate of erasers !


                      • #12
                        That part of the game is strictly what pleases my eye. If I make an adjustment to the contrast or color, etc. I go by how it affects me. I got numerous hints from pros in the field by books, videos etc but it usually boils down to what is pleasing to my eye.

                        I think you will find that it's different for each of us. Look at the restoration challenges and you will see the different way each of us thinks they would like to see the finished product. Some will leave cracking and discoloring in a bit to help retain the aged look while others will blast the image into the 21st century with full color and clean lines. It's all in the artists eye at the time and what they want to achieve in thier work.


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