Basic Retouching Step by Step

Discussion in 'The Professional Gallery' started by elsaspet, May 3, 2007.

  1. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    I'm a firm believer that Post Processing is vital in photography today. It's expected. Everyone wants to be like a magazine ad.

    This example was taken from an engagement shoot I processed yesterday. I'll break down the steps with before and after examples. To start off, the before and after:

    Before: White Balanced and Exposure corrected using Capture 1 Pro (But can also be done in a multitude of programs)
    [​IMG]

    And After:
    [​IMG]

    The very first thing I do it crop the image to the size the client has requested. In this case a 20x24. If no size is requested, as in a wedding shoot, I would crop to actual image size, if cropping needed to be done.
    But that's not enough. People have a tendency of not knowing their own body image. Not only that, you want this to be the best photo ever taken of them. All of a sudden, they are a lifetime client, and will promote you better than any ad ever could.
    See below for breakdowns.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    The first thing that bugged me in the photo, was the sign behind the guy's arm.
    I used clone at 50 percent opacity to get rid of it. I almost never use over 50 percent opacity, as I find it way too fake. It takes a few seconds longer but is much more realistic.

    Next, I always start with the skin:

    Her Before:
    [​IMG]

    Her After:
    [​IMG]

    Skin

    Step One
    Luckily she has good skin. I want to keep her as natural as possible so I heal only the blemishes, by constantly reselecting facial areas that are very close to the target area. I keep all her freckles here.
    Step Two
    I create a duplicate layer, and then use the clone tool at about 30 percent opacity to gently remove under eye shadows, eye and mouth wrinkles, as well as neck wrinkles. Then using my layers pallet, I decrees the opacity all the way down, and gently work my way up, until I have a believable, but complimentary look. (Nothing is worse than overdoing it!) Then I flatten the layer.
    Step Three
    I add a layer mask, and a fairly moderate gausian blur. I paint in as much as I feel I need, AND THEN LOWER IT, in my layers pallet. Again, I flatten the image once satisfied.
     
  3. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    His skin had a slightly different but common problem......the shaving rash. On guys I use the same steps as above, but much lighter on blur. You want your guys rugged.

    before:
    [​IMG]

    and after:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  4. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    Fixing Bad teeth in a realistic way..........In my opinion, this is where some very great photographers get it wrong. They tend to overdo the teeth to a brilliant white. Some even go so far as rebuilding teeth.

    I believe the guy knows he has bad teeth. He's seen them every day of his life. But you still want to be viewed as super photographer. Using the dodge tool at 9 percent opacity in the midtones, and the customary dupe layer, I gently fix the yellow areas, and then do a gentle whitening. Again, I back the layer opacity down to zero, and work back up until it looks realistic. Then I stop and smash the layers again.

    Before:
    [​IMG]

    After:
    [​IMG]
     
  5. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    The final thing I retouch, and the thing I believe makes the photos, is the eyes.

    Studio Photographers are blessed with great light, but all my work is done on location. Preferably I pray for an overcast day. If not, I pose the person in a nice flat light. I can paint light in later if need be.

    The guy has a slightly smaller back eye. I liquified it GENTLY by pulling up the eyebrow, thus raising the eye. The liquify (also called the lipo tool) is located in your CS2 filters, and can really amp up your photos, but it has to be used with great discretion.

    Before:
    [​IMG]

    After:
    [​IMG]

    As you will see in the above and below example, I had horrible catch lights from an attempt to blow out shadows. The light appeared right in the middle of the pupil, and is a photography disaster. I used a 100 percent shadow burn to get rid of the bad catchlight.
    Step One
    On a dupe layer (a reoccuring theme in my processing) I first enhance the eyecolor by a slight sat amp, and then a light dodge in the midtones. (5 percent or lower)
    Step Two
    Continuing on the same layer, I burn the outside of the Iris using a very small and soft airbrush, with tiny TINY inward strokes all the way around.
    Using the same settings, I also slightly burn the eyelash line, create more eyelashes, and darken eyebrows if need be.
    Step Three
    Because I have removed the crappy flash catchlight, and have them sitting in flat light, I need to add the light back in.
    Using the still open layer, I come in with dodge at 97 percent, and a tiny tiny brush, and create a small (pixel or so) catchlight just inside the pupil. To do this correctly you have to see where the light is coming from. If the light is coming from the left, this small dot, should be on the upper right of eyes at about the 1 o'clock area.
    Step 4
    On the same layer, paint a small dodged cresent just cattycorner of the catchlight and close to the Pupil. You want to do this at a MUCH lower opacity, such as 5 percent or less.
    Step 5
    Now, go back to your layers pallet and lower it to zero. Slowly move the slider up just until you get a "kiss" of light in the eyes. Stop and smash the layer.
    Step 6
    Using the dogde tool at 30 percent on a new dupe layer, and alternating with the clone tool at 40 percent, lighten the eyes. Again adjust until it's realistic.
    Smash layers. The faces are done.

    Before:
    [​IMG]

    After:
    [​IMG]
     
  6. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    And the final step.
    I'm a big burner of light. When you use the burn tool on a dupe layer, you will see you have many options in the pull down area, as far as hard light, soft light, color burns, ect. My recent fave is the vivid light.

    Burn the area around the couple, either lightening the colors, or providing vivid light. This will make the couple POP.

    Again, the before and after, now that you know how it's done:

    Before
    [​IMG]

    After:
    [​IMG]

    Please feel free to ask any questions about this process. In the future, I will get much more in depth about various tips and tricks as well as advanced methodology to you help you capture your target audience, and grow your skills.

    I've got another E-session to crank out today, but I'll try to come in with some advanced stuff next time.

    BTW- this process, from start to finish took under 5 minutes. It's not that fast at first, but after a few weeks, you will be speeding through it.
    Another huge help is the Wacom Intuit. I use the big 9x12. Trying to do this quickly with a mouse is akin to painting a pretty landscape with a roller brush. Investment in this fine tool will make your processing super quick.
     
  7. Antarctican

    Antarctican TPF Noob!

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    WOW, thanks for sharing this info!!!!!!
     
  8. zendianah

    zendianah TPF Noob!

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    THAT IS AWESOME!!!! So I need to bookmark this. I am practicing skin tone. Do you use a WACAM tablet?
     
  9. elsaspet

    elsaspet TPF Noob!

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    Thank you both. Yes, I use the Wacom Intuit. I think mine is the 9x12 or something like that. It's a wonderful time saver.
     
  10. JimmyJaceyMom

    JimmyJaceyMom TPF Noob!

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    You are awesome! I love that you are willing to teach. Should I pay you? LOL. No but seriously. I love your photos and I love how differently you do things. That's the way I want to do it - to be creative. Even with my pictures of children. Sounds cheesy but you are an inspiration. :)
     
  11. NJMAN

    NJMAN TPF Noob!

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    That is quite the detailed post processing procedure you have there. Thanks for the very valuable information. I doubt many photographers go through that detailed of a list to touch up photos, unless they can spot some glaring and maybe not so glaring areas for improvement. Usually, if you are the SLR level and invest in some decent equipment, you can start with very accurate skin tones, white balance, and exposure if you are using good techniques. Personally, if I spot some things right away that I can change, I do quite a bit of fine tuning in RAW first before I ever pull it into PS. But again, thanks for the very detailed and important tips!
     
  12. zendianah

    zendianah TPF Noob!

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    I'll have to agree with JimmyJaceyMom. You are an inspiration. I think you should write a book! Maybe you have. If so what is it and I will buy it !!
     

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