Skin editing: how do you do it?

vato_loco

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Hey everyone!

I recently read a couple of posts where the authors claimed that frequency separation was, like, so out right now you guys. Like omygod who even uses that anymore?

But seriously, I didn't even know that techniques went out of style like fashion trends. It that a thing?

It got me wondering, though. Every retoucher has his/her own technique for editing skin, since it's such a huge part of retouching portraits and fashion and glamour and boudoir and whatnot. I still don't have mine really worked out, but I really want to know what you use. Frequency separation for smooth skin? Blur and noise and blending options? Do you copy the photo layer and dodge / burn that one or do you create a 50% gray soft light layer?

I know I'm mixing smooth skin techniques and light correction techniques, but I want to hear them all.
 

Buckster

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I recently read a couple of posts where the authors claimed that frequency separation was, like, so out right now you guys. Like omygod who even uses that anymore?
Replaced by WHAT that can do the same or better?
 

Derrel

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This is an issue that has a number of different camps, different ideological points of view. For example, frequency separation removes a LOT of very small details, and that tends to make real people look very obviously retouched/processed/artificially enhanced. If the subject is obviously young, obviously has been heavily perfected in the makeup chair, or is part of an obvious "concept image", advertising image, or some purpose-shot image, then a lot of skin editing might dovetail perfectly into that, and might be just what is needed.

But what if the image is supposed to look real, and convincing, what if it is supposed to look "authentic"? What if the image is supposed to look "genuine"? Removing too much detail can make the image look the wrong way, look doctored, look hackneyed.

There is a huge reliance on frequency separation these days. I'm not a fan of it for my images. I prefer a more real look, where lighting is used more to keep fine detail from showing up to the extent that removing said fine detail is not very necessary most of the time. For example...if you use a main light and then a fairly strong fill light directly opposite, it keeps the actual level of micro-contrast fairly low...for example, if you "stack" or do a side-by-side with two light sources of approximately equal strength, that keeps shadows from forming, so skin looks smooth, right out of the camera, and you might actually end up painting on some more contrast with a brush!

I dunno...I think one of the most important things to do is to clone out major skin flaws, like blackheads, pore clusters, things like that, but to LEAVE IN the major facial characteristics that define "real people". For fine art/modeling/glam stuff, you can retouch and refine more of that suits your shot or your idea of what looks best.

Skin editing can be, for some people, a major ideological issue...this is an area where opinions often run strong. There are a LOT of people today who smooth the chit out of every image. Their work typically looks ridiculous to my eye. Just because one can, does not mean one should. But yes, there definitely ARE trends in how images are retouched/processed/refined, and they do tend to come in and out of fashion. Remember the Dragan Effect....remember how popular and how widespread that was, that effin' ridiculous look? it was allllllllll over the web and in print six or seven years ago, but it has faded in popularity because it so often looked hackneyed.

http://wegraphics.net/blog/tutorial...te-a-dragan-style-portrait-effect-in-5-steps/

Years ago, Gaussian blur was used as a way to smooth images...fast, easy, kind of pretty--at times...but also rather blase after we'd seen ten million images done that way every year... Same thing with reduced clarity....when the Clarity Slider was first introduced, that was often used...and if done well, can be pretty neat...but it can be over-used.

We're starting to see a lot of images where simply put, there has been wayyyyyy to much smoothing done on photos for which that technique is counter-productive... A lot of people are more interested in the retouching and Photoshopping process than they are on the photography/lighting process, and at times these folks are churning out images that look, well, clownish is the word that comes to mind.

I look at it this way: skin editing is like salt and seasoning when cooking. You probably do need to use "some", rather than "none". But not too much so that it spoils the dish. But enough that it tastes right!

The problem, as I see it, is the tendency for people to hammer-and-nail images in an unthoughtful way, where every problem looks like a nail to a guy who only has a hammer. This stems I think from people learning a method, from a web-based tutorial, and then applying the same basic routine, over and over, no matter what. And that is, I think, why these fads come and go...something becomes popular, and people accept it as normal, and then after a time, something else comes into fashion, and the sheeple decide, "Hey! I want to do my photos that way too!" Images are now often seen among many similar images on 500px, Flickr, and so on, and many people have a herd mentality.

Pet rocks, capri pants, pleated down vests, bell-bottom jeans...
 

runnah

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I dunno...I think one of the most important things to do is to clone out major skin flaws, like blackheads, pore clusters, things like that, but to LEAVE IN the major facial characteristics that define "real people". For fine art/modeling/glam stuff, you can retouch and refine more of that suits your shot or your idea of what looks best.

This sums up my thoughts nicely.
 

Buckster

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For example, frequency separation removes a LOT of very small details, and that tends to make real people look very obviously retouched/processed/artificially enhanced.
Ummm... No, it doesn't. No, really, it doesn't. In fact, it's noted for how it leaves all the very small details.

I think you might be confusing frequency separation with some other technique.

Check this post out (the whole thread, really, but in particular this post):

How to edit under the eye | Page 2 | Photography Forum
 

Derrel

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Perceptive abilities and visual sensibilities vary from person to person. I know how genuine skin texture and unaltered skin characteristics appear to me. I look at photographs and evaluate them based on what it is that I know I should be seeing.

My visual sense was formed a long, long time ago. I favor much less post work on skin than most people do. There are two sides to every single coin, the obverse side [aka the head side], and the reverse side [aka the tail side].



Buckster_ignored for 18 months.jpg
 

Buckster

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Perceptive abilities and visual sensibilities vary from person to person. I know how genuine skin texture and unaltered skin characteristics appear to me. I look at photographs and evaluate them based on what it is that I know I should be seeing.

My visual sense was formed a long, long time ago. I favor much less post work on skin than most people do. There are two sides to every single coin, the obverse side [aka the head side], and the reverse side [aka the tail side].
That doesn't make what you said about FS true, because it's still not, as clearly demonstrated in the post I linked to with the video I made. Watch it full screen in HD, and notice how every bump and pore and wrinkle of skin texture stayed intact, contrary to your claims in that regard.

That's pretty childish.
 
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vato_loco

vato_loco

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Replaced by WHAT that can do the same or better?
That's my point exactly. What other techniques are out there that are capable and flexible enough to be used in different types of photography.

I look at it this way: skin editing is like salt and seasoning when cooking. You probably do need to use "some", rather than "none". But not too much so that it spoils the dish. But enough that it tastes right!
So what seasoning do you use? It's clearly not frequency separation, so which is it?
 

Buckster

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Replaced by WHAT that can do the same or better?
That's my point exactly. What other techniques are out there that are capable and flexible enough to be used in different types of photography.
Where are those couple of posts you've recently read where it's said that FS is "out" now? I'd be interested to ask those folks directly.

I look at it this way: skin editing is like salt and seasoning when cooking. You probably do need to use "some", rather than "none". But not too much so that it spoils the dish. But enough that it tastes right!
So what seasoning do you use? It's clearly not frequency separation, so which is it?

He posted the following in the same thread where I posted the video I made that proves his comments above are FOS:
Patch tool can work pretty fast on this, so can the dodge tool set at fairly low density and low flow and sort of "painting on" the darker areas and lightening them up.

I sometimes go into PS and use a soft-edged brush and use the clone tool at low flow and about 85% density to clone over the under-eye area, sampling from the area right below; you need to keep the density (opacity) below 100% or it looks faked.
I don't think we've ever actually seen him post before and after results of him showing how great he thinks his technique works, especially in comparison to FS though, so keep that in mind. Derrel's often just plain right because he says he is. If you prove him wrong, he puts you on ignore, as seen above.
 
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vato_loco

vato_loco

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Where are those couple of posts you've recently read where it's said that FS is "out" now? I'd be interested to ask those folks directly.
I've been trying to find them with no luck. They were probably from some blog or something, not the usual photography sites I visit.
 

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