I was wondering if someone could tell me how to get this grainy skin look and also to make my images as polished overall as the 1st and 3rd images. They seem to be using a plugin for that polished effect but I'm not sure.
Chris made the excellent suggestion to use a frequency separation approach to perform basic retouching, as well as adding texture (ie, only to the high frequency components of the image).
In a thread just a few days ago, you asked the same question as you are asking in the current thread, namely, how to achieve what you called a "polished" or "glossy" look. To elaborate on what I said in that thread, I followed the procedure I outlined in my response in that thread to illustrate how this goes.
First, as I suggested in that thread, one first develops a mask to apply effects (brightening and reduction of saturation) to the highlights area. For the image I chose to use as an example, I was able to get most of the way with just a straight luminance mask, but had to do a bit of burning and dodging to clean up the mask.
Next, I used it on a levels and a vibrance/saturation adjustment layer to brighten and decrease the saturation slightly in the highlights area. A before-after comparison is shown in the animated GIF below.
Also, note that if you are going to get into frequency separation techniques (as per Chris's suggestion), then you should just apply the masked adjustment layers only to the low frequency part of the image. I did not mention this option in that post because, at that time, I didn't think you would be using a frequency separation approach, so a direct approach was easier to explain.
I have ran across a tutorial that demonstrated that grainy look of your first example, but I can't seem to find it right now. I never bookmarked the tutorial because it looks entirely to fake for me. I'll keep looking for it though.
Thanks for the response. I've been using the frequency separation technique. I love the beautiful, natural-looking results it produces. I learned from watching a video from Phlearn but this great for those would rather read. I'm looking for a more artificial look.
Thanks for all of your responses! I was going to reply to each comment individually but it appears it just made a new comment, instead of attaching my response to that specific comment.
Chris, I've been using the frequency separation technique. I love the beautiful, natural-looking results it produces. I learned from watching a video from Phlearn but this great for those would rather read. I'm looking for a more artificial look.
Sam, I think you know exactly what I am looking for. If you find it PLEASE let me know. I will continue to look as well.
Tom, I think in trying to not be misleading in the previous post, I was misleading. You did teach me a great technique in the process though. Thanks for that. What I'm looking for is smooth, rich colors throughout the entire image.
Hi FMD - I'm not sure if this is closer to what you are looking for, but by making a few simple slider adjustments (in the levels and vibrance/sat adjustment layers) to my previous attempt, and by outputting to two separate JPGs instead of to a single, before-after animated GIF (which only has 256 colors), I was able to get the attached image where the fake highlights looks a lot smoother than what I posted before. I also wanted to concentrate in one area, the arm, because slightly different settings are be needed for her face and other places, and I just didn't feel like spending the time working on the other areas for a little demo like this.
That being said, the oft-repeated mantra that it's almost always better to get the effect in-camera (eg, with lighting and makeup) rather than simulating it in postproduction is quite valid here.