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TIPS & TRICKS No. 2 - Retouching Skin

Tim Armes

New member
This thread is part of the Tips & Tricks problematics. See here for more information.

Hi all,

We often have questions concerning skin retouching, so I thought it would be useful to try to collect our ideas together into a single thread.

If you have any skin retouching tips that you'd like to share, then please post them to this thread. As usual, accompanying photos would be appreciated.

Regards,

Tim
 

Tim Armes

New member
Hi Steve,

I think that plugins and so forth can be a great time saver. Kodak also produce a portrait plugin that produces excellent results.

However, where we can suggest methods that just use Photoshop we learn techniques that help to grow our overall retouching skills. To become competent at retouching it's important to understand how certain methods work, and why some techniques produces better results than others. With this understanding we can better adapt the techniques we know to any photos that come our way...

Tim
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Thanks tim for bring this up. Who is going to kick off?

What about acne and red skin?

or harsh shadows

or harsh highlights?

Asher
 
I guess this opens up the whole "correct" skin color debate. As an example I recently shot a couple with their new baby in natural light. There was a lot of green in the shadows due to the trees and grass outside the window reflecting green light into the room.

I removed the green cast which gave a more pleasing skin tone, but one which was not accurate to the scene shot.

having said all that I would love pointers on skin tone workflow as well. Don't really have any of my own unfortunately.
 

Ian Farrell

New member
Will try and put something together on how I've retouched skin, but in the meantime I thought I should pass on the best piece of advice I've every had: take your time.

Any quick fixes will always look like quick fixes, in my experience. Those I've spoken to in the professional retouching trade spend hours on a shot - sadly not something everyone has time for.

Just my 2p.

I.

This thread is part of the Tips & Tricks problematics. See here for more information.

Hi all,

We often have questions concerning skin retouching, so I thought it would be useful to try to collect our ideas together into a single thread.

If you have any skin retouching tips that you'd like to share, then please post them to this thread. As usual, accompanying photos would be appreciated.

Regards,

Tim
 

Kathy Rappaport

pro member
Not one answer

I was at the WPPI tradeshow (Wedding and Portrait Photographers) and there were so many products out there, I bought NONE! And my question is still what is the correct color of skin?

I have some photos up on my pbase site that the portrait does represent the person's actual skin tone - which appears to be orange because he does a spray on tan. When I corrected it, he complained! (he thinks he looks good ORANGE and who am I to tell him otherwise!)
 

nyschulte

New member
Hello,

My starting point was this tutorial
retouchpro tutorials

Here is one of the results:




I do not use step 4 anymore as i overdo it mostly:


After this i do some work on the eyes.


I still have to improve a lot but the general look pleases me.
I need to concentrate more on details like stray hair and of course taking more time to work on each picture. These pictures were retouched in about 30 minutes each.

I tried as well the portraitprofessional and while having some good looking results, i prefer the manual approach.

Nicolas
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I may try it tomorrow. Looks interesting.

Thanks John for sharing. Maybe you or someone else could show us how it works with screenshots from the time you paint with white!

Asher
 

John_Schwaller

New member
I may try it tomorrow. Looks interesting.

Thanks John for sharing. Maybe you or someone else could show us how it works with screenshots from the time you paint with white!

Asher
Actually, the usage is pretty intuitive. You paint the skin white, masking the normal areas you don't want "unsharp", such as eyes, lips, nostrils, eye brows, etc. The play and follow the instuctions.

I have not done acomparison, but I believe it incorporates a lot of the technique show in this exerpt (http://www.photoshopsupport.com/photoshop-blog/dl-blog/skin-1/Skin_Varis_202-215.pdf) from 'Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies' by Lee Varis.

With the book came some sample files. I did a quick 5 min. alteration of one of them with Springer's action. Here is before & after (I hope Lee doesn'y mind my posting them).

Before:


After:


Ooops...didn't convert to sRGB...please excuse the color tones

John
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Hi John,

I have an approach that is governed by a wish to appear as little deceptive as possible in image editing. IOW, not to give a look of being altered. To that end, I make the best possible change and then do something else and fight to donate as much of the color corrected original as I can without throwing away the retouch work.

So here, could you possibly take the final image and add back as much of the orginal image as you can without throwing away most of the improvements? Also, add the © photographer to the pics next time you post them as we like to give a clear credit.

It would be better in future if we used our own pictures :).

If someone is a Lee Varis fan, we'd love to see how he renders the skin his way.

Thanks for sharing the contact to Lee Varis and the results you have obtained with CSpringer's Skinfix action action.

Maybe we should find some standard files we own for this kind of work!

Asher
 

John_Schwaller

New member
Asher...

I suggest you just try the Springer action. It is really self explanatory and much easier than any attempt by me to document it....or reverse engineer it, which is what it seems you asked for....you have full control over the effects as you go through and can also vary opacity on much of it.

The Lee Varis steps are fully documented in the extract which I gave you the link. Suggest you read that also. It is really "cookbook".

John
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Yes of course! These are easy to play with. Just thinking we should make avaialble standard files for this work so we don't have to worry about permissions.

Asher
 
This is one off P.O.T.N. Canon forum in the Glamour and **** forums . Paul Ferradas gave members a nice link of a tutorial where he says :

''The great thing about Dust and Scratches is that you control how much skin detail is retained where as if you are applying the gaussian blurr effect, it's essentially blurring all the pixels and not considering the underlying textures.''

http://www.ferradasphotography.com/skinsosoft/
It is one I bookmarked .
Regards
Don
 

John_Schwaller

New member
This is one off P.O.T.N. Canon forum in the Glamour and **** forums . Paul Ferradas gave members a nice link of a tutorial where he says :

''The great thing about Dust and Scratches is that you control how much skin detail is retained where as if you are applying the gaussian blurr effect, it's essentially blurring all the pixels and not considering the underlying textures.''

http://www.ferradasphotography.com/skinsosoft/
It is one I bookmarked .
Regards
Don

Don......Thanks for another alternative.

From looking at the tutorial, it is not clear to me that D&S blurs and less than Gaussian (though at the beginning of the article he makes a point of this).

It seems, as in most techniques, the control is in the opacity of the brush and/or layer.

I know there are differences in blurs...for example between Gaussian and lens blur. Can anyone distiguish the differences with D&S?

John
 

Gary Yelland

pro member
Skin

I prefer not to use blurring techniques on skin as this destroys the pore structure.

I have used this tutorial many times for commercial use and its really fast once you get used to it,
the idea behind is to half the contrast and double the pore structure for a small area at a time using the patch tool, this gives great results.

Skin Smoothing technique

Give it a try.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
I like Igor Abramov's explanations. He explains in a simple way, and since he leaves out the definate article, "the", I can even hear his Russian accent and it's charming!

He likes the healing brush but cautions against the disorder caused by mismatch of skin pore pattern when the patch is faded and part of the orginal is showing through.

Asher
 

Tim Armes

New member
I prefer not to use blurring techniques on skin as this destroys the pore structure.

I have used this tutorial many times for commercial use and its really fast once you get used to it,
the idea behind is to half the contrast and double the pore structure for a small area at a time using the patch tool, this gives great results.

Skin Smoothing technique

Give it a try.
That's a great tutorial Gary. Thanks for the link.
 

Chip Springer

New member
Actually, the usage is pretty intuitive. You paint the skin white, masking the normal areas you don't want "unsharp", such as eyes, lips, nostrils, eye brows, etc. The play and follow the instuctions.

I have not done acomparison, but I believe it incorporates a lot of the technique show in this exerpt (http://www.photoshopsupport.com/photoshop-blog/dl-blog/skin-1/Skin_Varis_202-215.pdf) from 'Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies' by Lee Varis.

With the book came some sample files. I did a quick 5 min. alteration of one of them with Springer's action. Here is before & after (I hope Lee doesn'y mind my posting them).


John
Hi John,
Thanks for recommending my action. I did notice that it looks like you added other edits so I thought you might appreciate what I came up with with just the action and USM. The last one is a 100% crop. Notice how it doesn't blur the hairs like other plugins do.




 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Hi John,
Thanks for recommending my action. I did notice that it looks like you added other edits so I thought you might appreciate what I came up with with just the action and USM. The last one is a 100% crop. Notice how it doesn't blur the hairs like other plugins do.
Thanks for joing us and posting here. You are so welcome!

Could you explain how is it that your action protects hair? Is that just the masking layer?

Also how much is related to Lee Varis' technic quoted by John, below

John_Schwaller said:
I believe it incorporates a lot of the technique show in this exerpt (http://www.photoshopsupport.com/phot...is_202-215.pdf) from 'Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies' by Lee Varis.
Asher
 

Chip Springer

New member
The first step is to paint over the skin so you are not actually editing the entire picture...in that sense, yes, there is a mask. Why it doesn't effect facial hair the same way a Portraiture type plugin does I couldn't say...I guess it is the settings I'm using.

I get a URL not found on the link you posted so I don't know what technique is used.
 

Ray West

New member
This is a personal view, but I think the amount of processing I see on many portrait images, instead of making the subject look younger, makes them look dead. Just what is wrong with nature? What is in folk that wants them to look plastic, wax work, lifeless?

There should be some trading standards to be applied, false descriptions, etc. ;-)

Best wishes,

Ray
 

Chip Springer

New member
This is a personal view, but I think the amount of processing I see on many portrait images, instead of making the subject look younger, makes them look dead. Just what is wrong with nature? What is in folk that wants them to look plastic, wax work, lifeless?

There should be some trading standards to be applied, false descriptions, etc. ;-)

Best wishes,

Ray
I agree and prefer the skin texture but obviously many love the plastic look. This gif shows how the action leaves the texture without blurring better than most of my examples. The action will also get get rid of the wrinkles using the Healing tools or add texture if needed (I added a bit to the nose only).

 
Last edited:

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
This is a personal view, but I think the amount of processing I see on many portrait images, instead of making the subject look younger, makes them look dead. Just what is wrong with nature? What is in folk that wants them to look plastic, wax work, lifeless?
Well Ray,

We are not going to cross swords, but let me tell you my perspective. There's skin; babies skin, a whore's skin, a virgin's skin, acne skin, aged skin leather, the weathered leathery skin of saliors, gardeners, the homeless, Irish poets and highwaymen. As artists we can document them exactly as they are or as we romanticise their conditon.

But, apart from that, pictures of women to be seen by women are different! In fact so different that billions of dollars can be earned catering to this. This is good to understand if one chooses to feed from this.

So what are women after?

When women look at the pictures of models in magazines, they want something more dreamy than they get when they look in the mirror. Their wish is to escape to fantasyland. They are willing to spend their money to wonder how they might look if they had the money or spent the money on the make up, hair style couture etc! This is a woman's escape from ordinary truths of their mundane office or cooking routines to a perfect pampered dreamworld for just $5.00 a copy of a magazine.

Now we could have a separate accurate book with zits, moles, pimples, lines, rolls of flesh, narrow eyes and hair on the lips and even make actions to increase then so the iomages are even more "natural" and then it would be bought by you and I and 7 others. The advertizing for warm socks and alka seltzer and hemorrhoid cream might make it a good buisiness if we just give the magazines away to old age homes. They can't focus anyway to well anyway.They'll think it's Vogue!

There should be some trading standards to be applied, false descriptions, etc. ;-)
Well, Ray, in one famous Hong Kong landmark case, a buisness man challenged his beautiful model socialite "trophy" wife with infidelity since the snub-nosed new born couldn't have been sired by him, it was far to ugly.

Well, a detective cracked the case. She had had nose, lipe and eye surgery, breast implant and more. He's marries a fraud. So he sued for breach of contract and fraud and won!

He didn't ask for custody of the child!

Yes, that is fraud but smoothing over skin a little for a client is no different than one having a nice shirt to cover your hairy chest and perhaps a few moles! A picture is only a representation, a container for memories and fantasies, not a cold mirror.

Asher
 

Meghan Robinson

New member
i cant stand the plasticy, buttery face look that seems to be popular, and i wonder if its popular because of its look or because good retouching takes alot of time? im new to the retouching thing, but i think im pretty much never going to do the skin blur technique because i think its kinda scary. the example of my work that i included i think is very heavy retouching, but still looks like Skin, and not plastic. i think it took me about 2.5 hours, or maybe a little longer.

before:


after:
 

Cem_Usakligil

Active member
Hi Meghan,

Welcome to OPF and thanks for showing this works of yours, which is impressive.
Would you please tell us how you did it? Thx

Regards,

Cem
 

Meghan Robinson

New member
i used the spot healing tool, some cloning, some very light airbrushing on a low opacity, and ummm. i think thats about it, just went very slowly, and thoroughly
 

David Thomasson

New member
For the past year or so I've been using Imagenomic Portraiture and am sold on it. If you do much portrait work, it's worth the price. Very flexible, auto-masking, etc. Before switching to Portraiture, I used the method describe here (see page 10) -- which can easily be built into an action with two stopping points, one for high pass adjustment, the other for G/blur.
 
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