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First time posting a before & After portrait (Please be gentle haha)


Laura Downes

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Hey :D so apart from my introductory post, this is my first before & after post so please be gentle :cheesygrin: I do know I need to learn a lot (and tone down the brightness of things ie: teeth haha) hence why I have joined here :D edit web res before.jpgedit web res after.jpg
P.s I am hoping to one day be equivalent to magazine standards so I know that I definitely have a LOAD to learn about photoshop & everything else that comes with professional retouching :)
 

IamSam

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Hey Laura. I think your smoothing technique is perfect, no problems there!

I won't argue that I'm not the best member to offer you help in this arena. I think there are many others who are better at retouching (like chrisdesign) than I, but I can show you what I think are a few minor issues.

First, I think there should be some color adjustments (this is where I myself run into problems as there are too many opinions to know who's right!) made to the original before you ever start.

Edit: Removed images, Confused, need to regroup.
 
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Thanks Sam. This is a very good example how retouching can be done.
But your color adjustment is not correct. Skintones lost too much color. Though your smoothing result looks pretty good.
 
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Laura Downes

Good retouching starts aways by using the curves tool.
Very important first step is to set the highlight.
Click the icon1 and place it on a area you want to be white. Then click it again. In your image it is the round dot in the upper left corner.

Bildschirmfoto 1.jpg
the image is brighter now.

Second step is using Hue/Saturation (or color correction).
Go to Hue/Saturation and choose Red tones.
Put in the values.

Bildschirmfoto 2.jpg
The skintones have a more natural color.

Try these steps first, before you start working on blemishes or skin smoothing.

By the way your retouching looks already quite good.
 

Tom Mann

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First, let me suggest using a different second step instead of the one Chris used. After setting the (luminosity) white point using the out-of-focus ceiling light, I would recommend setting a mid-tone white balance using the middle white balance eyedropper (in the curves dialog box) on the whites of the subject's eyes.

This is an old trick that photographers have been using almost since Photoshop first came into existence whenever they realized that they had forgotten to take a calibration shot in the light that's actually hitting the face using a MacBeth color reference card . Obviously, this technique doesn't work on people with highly blood-shot, jaundiced, or baby-blue eyes, but for a surprisingly large segment of the population, it works exceedingly well.

The reason that it is necessary to have some way to estimate the color of the light that is actually on the subject's face is that her face is obviously being illuminated not only by (a) the ceiling lights, but also by (b) the photographer's lights (see the two catchlights in each pupil), as well as (c) a very warm diffuse light that has bounced off the walls and ceiling of the room. The color of the last two sources has absolutely nothing to do with the color of the overhead lights, and so won't be corrected by setting a color balance based on the ceiling lights. The ceiling lights certainly are useful for setting the maximum brightness areas in the image, but not for the color.

Following the procedure I suggested, I obtained the attached image. It may not have the golden skin glow that many photographers strive for, but I bet it's a lot closer to what the subject looks like in real life.

Second, as a photographer, I feel compelled to point out that while I read in your "Hello PSG" thread that your primary interest is not in photography, I feel obliged to comment that spending a bit of time learning good lighting technique could save years of your life sitting in front of a computer trying to correct lighting problems after-the-fact using PS. For example, if you moved your two lights considerably closer to the subject, and gelled them to match the color temp of the ceiling lights, lots of the problems we're trying to correct in PS would simply disappear because not only are sources (a) and (b) now color-matched, but also, the fraction of spill light hitting the walls would be reduced considerably. As another example, if you ( or your hubby) had used a hair light when taking this image, the hair wouldn't look like an undifferentiated, low contrast, featureless blob of blackness, but actually show structure. I tried to suggest this in the image I posted by using PS's "shadow/highlights" tool plus a curves adjustment on the hair to illustrate that it's nice to have detail in the hair.

HTH,

Tom M

PS - I'm back from my weekend backpacking trip, tired, but safe and sound, LOL.
 

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Tom Mann

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@laura-downes - if you have a hardware calibrated monitor, I would be interested to know how close I got to your real skin color. If you don't have a hardware calibrated monitor, you simply can't rely on what you are using to make any pro-level color correction decisions.

Tom M
 
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Tom Mann

Thank you for your elaborated explanation to Laura. I know all these tricks you described too.
She'll see now that "different roads lead to Rom".
With my 2 screenshots I showed her the easiest steps to begin. I didn't want to confuse her with technical terms.
 

Tom Mann

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With respect to retouching, there are huge differences in personal opinion about how much should be done. If I had my druthers, I would hardly retouch the color corrected version I previously posted. I think you look absolutely beautiful just they way you photographed. I might clean up a few stray hairs, and some tiny creases and color irregularities, but that's about it.

At the other extreme are novices who turn skin into plastic using one of the simple minded "retouching" (aka, skin blurring) techniques that every second YouTube video seems to tout. I won't even waste my time or yours illustrating this hated technique.

There are many points in-between these two extremes. For example, here's one where I did quite a bit of dodging and burning to correct for the simple lighting, and added color here and there to look like makeup. Some clients will like this, some purists will hate it. You have to develop a sense of what each client wants. Since retouching is so subjective and so hard to describe in words, to save yourself time, have your clients bring in examples of retouched photos that they like -- it will be much easier on you if you work with a guide like that in hand.

HTH,

Tom M

PS - I did absolutely nothing to the skin on your neck.
 

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IamSam

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Thanks guys for all of your input. I have been following this thread with earnest because I would really like to improve my retouching skills. However, as usual, I'm now very confused on the colors. We have two very different versions from our two most prominent members known for their retouching skills. I feel that the color correction is the starting point and is the most important aspect of photo retouching. The techniques for skin smoothing are only the second part of the process.

I need to regroup.
 

Tom Mann

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I understand completely!

First question: Are you using a monitor that has been recently calibrated using an external hardware device such as described HERE? If not, in addition to ever-present differences between personal / artistic color preferences, you will be just guessing at what the file really contains in terms of colors and tones.

T

PS - Also, I should add that the general skin color of people of the same reace in the area (eg, generally more ruddy or sallow), as well the use to which an image will be put dramatically influences how vibrant and contrasty you want it to be. For example, a wowie-zowie punchy image might be great to attract people to browse through a website, but would be way too distracting to serve as the background for some important text.
 
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Thanks guys for all of your input. I have been following this thread with earnest because I would really like to improve my retouching skills. However, as usual, I'm now very confused on the colors. We have two very different versions from our two most prominent members known for their retouching skills. I feel that the color correction is the starting point and is the most important aspect of photo retouching. The techniques for skin smoothing are only the second part of the process.

I need to regroup.
Hi Sam
-
When I checked my profile was Adobe RGB 1988 instead of SRGB IEC-1966-2.1.
I corrected this an put both Tom's image and mine on the same job.
There are differences in the way we retouched it, but the colors are closer now. It is of course a matter of personal preference or what a look your customer wants.

edit web res Tom chrisdesign.jpg
 

Tom Mann

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Ahh! That explains it! I didn't even think to check the color space everyone posted in except for Sam's (when it was obvious something was wrong with his posting).

Thanks, Chris.

Tom

PS - So a lesson to Laura and everyone else: ALWAYS, ALWAYS POST IN sRGB, and double check yourself after posting. It happens to the best of us.
 
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Tom Mann

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Hey, Laura - 3 more questions for you:

1. I'm guessing you dye your hair black. If it's not too personal of a question, could you confirm that? If it is, just send me to the corner for a half hour for being an uncouth man, LOL.

2. Any chance you could post a similar head shot, except taken outside on a slightly cloudy day (ie, for lower contrast, but colors which are more likely to be true).

3. Do you hardware calibrate your system?

Tom M
 
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Also, In addition to the texture details, I also did a bunch of dodging and burning that I don't think Chris did.

T

I also worked on a dodge and burn layer, not as much and not in the same way as you did.
I wanted to correct the lighting a little. My "light source" is placed on the right side of the image shining to the left.
 

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