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Thread: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

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    Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

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    For those who wants to learn how to touch up a portrait image decently, I have write up a mini tutorial guide to help members. There are many ways of retouching a portrait image. This post explains some of the popular marks used by professional photographers. I often receive PMs and emails and even MSNs asking me how I did it so I thought of doing up this guide for you.

    I have chosen an image among my stacks suitable to best showcase my methods.



    The above image is a portrait of my friend, May, whom I have shot a few years ago. May is an air hostess in Emirates Airlines Thailand. It was her break after coming back from US trip and we decided to meet up for coffee/tea and chit chat session. Fortunately I had my camera with me that day so we decided to do some casual shots for her so that she can put them in her blog.

    As you can see from the image which is a direct image from my camera without any editing except for resizing to fit into webboards, May has many "little problems" which she was complaining the whole day while we were "dating". I assured her those little annoyance will be taken care of.

    May is not a photo model by profession. She is very unnatural in front of the camera especially when lots of people were looking. She was very shy. I had to slowly coax her and guide her with simple natural poses.
    Last edited by Zeckson; 21-03-2010 at 01:18 AM. Reason: Forgot to put the link down
    My name is Zeckson a.k.a. Zec@Work

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    First and foremost, load the image into Photoshop. That's the most natural thing to do when you want to edit an image right?



    After your image is loaded onto Photoshop, your screen should look like this.
    My name is Zeckson a.k.a. Zec@Work

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    I usually follow these set of guidelines when I edit an image in Photoshop but that does not mean I am following it every time. Sometimes I skip certain parts or jumble the order a bit here and there:

    1. Adjust all global modifiers to make the overall image look right
    2. Once all global modifications are done to your liking, scrutinize on your image and identify areas that needed detailed adjustments
    3. List down or mark out all those areas that needed adjustments
    4. Decide your workflow
    5. Start your workflow consecutively and respectively
    6. Always zoom in and do minor adjustments and then zoom out to see the whole image to gauge your adjustments
    7. Go into pixel-peep if needed
    8. Complete all necessary adjustments and save your image
    My name is Zeckson a.k.a. Zec@Work

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    So let's start with those global modifications. At a glance of the original image, I have got most of the things right (exposure, sharpness, composition, angles, etc.). The only thing that I want to push more is the overall exposure of the image. I want to make the image brighter overall so to have a fresher feel.



    In this image, I want to maintain the low contrast but increase the brightness. Over here, I choose to use Layer Blending Mode "Screen" rather than "Brightness & Contrast". There is a difference between these 2 tools which will take a long time to explain so I am going to skip it. Just accept this first.

    What I did was:

    Duplicate a layer from the Background Layer so that the duplicated layer becomes my so-called working layer. This is very useful because whatever changes you do on your working layer and if you make drastic mistakes after many steps, you simple drag your working layer and throw it away into the Bin while your original Bankground layer is untouched. This way is considered as non-destructive according to many professional photographers.

    So with my duplicated layer as my so-called working layer, I further duplicate it, making a duplicated working layer. You should have 3 layers now as you can see in the image posted. I switch the Blending Mode to "Screen" (look at the red arrows) and adjusted the Opacity down to my liking. Once done, I merge my working layers.
    My name is Zeckson a.k.a. Zec@Work

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    With my global adjustments done, the next thing to do is to mark out all those little problems that I want cleaning. Over here you have to be very patient and you may end up spending lots of time in this area depending on how many problems you have identified. For the sake of the tutorial, I have marked out the following:



    Looking at the red arrows on the posted image, I have marked out all her skin blemishes from moles to freckles to pimples and to rashes. I have also marked out a few loose hairs that I found annoying with green arrows. If you want professional looking images then you cannot be lazy here. The harder you work, the better the results. There are absolutely no secrets to this.

    From here, you have to start to be good friends with the Healing Brush because this guy here not only helps you to remove the blemishes, it also helps you to smooth the skin using textures that are already there! Believe it or not, I love this tool and it always help me produce results that all of you have seen in my previous pictures!

    The secret is to use a 100% hard-edged brush at a size small enough to only cover the problem (e.g. a mole). A technique that I had discovered using the Healing Brush is to break up your "problem" into 4 sections, say North, South, East and West sections. Here is what you are going to do... For each "problem" you need 4 reference points for the Healing Brush. For the North section of the problem, you reference your Healing Brush onto the skin area on top of the problem and then heal only 25% area of the problem, that is only the north section leaving the other 3 sections untouched. Once done, move on the the other sections by referencing the skin areas respectively (that is farther right skin area for East section, lower skin area for South section and farther left skin area for West section). So you have to heal 4 times on each problem. That is not all, do a final heal by referencing your Healing Brush on any nearby skin area other than the 4 you just chosen and heal the center of the "problem". So total 5 healings to completely remove the "problem".

    Concept behind this technique is Healing Brush heals by taking a sample of texture from an area and copy it onto the target area without changing its color. Your "problem" is surrounded by skin all round so by using the skin areas around the "problem" it blends with those textures seamlessly and it is hardly noticeable because your brush size is so small! But there is a flaw to this 4-stroke healing -- the center of the heal will yield undesired results and that is why the 5th final heal is to get rid of that undesireable skin.

    Yes, it is very troublesome but you have to do it. Why not just heal once and that's it. Healing once will blend the texture of only 1 area of the skin and that area may not be of the same texture. When you have many blemishes clustered together, you will see that doing once-healing will end up having many "white" spots or the skin appeared to have a regular pattern which is totally unnatural. By using my technique, you eliminate that.

    Having understodd this concept, now perform this 5-heal technique to all the "problems" you marked out. Tell you, I sometimes spent hours on this area but the result is a very natural textured smooth skin that everyone will notice.
    My name is Zeckson a.k.a. Zec@Work

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    You should by now completed healing all blemishes using the technique I taught you. Notice the skin now? Do you like it? Yes you do! Especially your subject!

    But don't be too happy yet because that is not all. The next thing to do is to lighten the under eyes and the nostril wing.



    I have marked out those areas that needed correction. Your next good friend tool is the Clone Stamp tool. Hey wait... Don't use the Clone Stamp blindly because wrong usage will produce VERY undesireable results.

    From my posted image, I selected the Clone Stamp tool, select the softest edged brush, SET THE MODE TO "LIGHTEN", use a low opacity value and make sure it is not set to aligned.

    Explanation:
    • Soft edged Brush: You want to blend the surrounding skins so that it looks natural
    • Lighten: This is the secret. You want to copy a reference area but you only want to copy the color of that reference area and not the texture!
    • Opacity: Low values allows you to make small adjustments so that you can gauge where you have gone and not all the way ballasticly
    • Aligned: You always want the same reference point and not a moving reference point when you brush over the target areas


    So clone stamp with care and complete this procedure.
    My name is Zeckson a.k.a. Zec@Work

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    Now that you have got your skin looking real good, it is time to move onto the eyes. Not many people will do this. It is entirely up to you. In this image, May was wearing a very nice blending blueish gray contact lenses and is matching her outfit (I didn't request her to dress this way, the shoot was done impromptu when we met each other) so I decided to make it sparkle.



    The technique used here is the good old Quick Mask tool and the Paintbrush tool. What you need to do is to mask out the eyes carefully and adjust the contrast values. Simple.
    My name is Zeckson a.k.a. Zec@Work

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    The final thing to do now is to do some sharpening. Simple sharpening is applied here.



    This one everybody knows lah but I want to highlight the use of the "Threshold" value in the Unsharp Mask tool. Not many people know what this does. Most of us would adjust the "Amount" and "Radius" values and see what works.

    "Threshold" is a governing control. By default, it is set to "0" (zero). I often use values of 1 to 3. What this means is I am telling Unsharp Mask to apply my selected value of "Amount" to an area of "Radius" of a pixel that has an "X" levels of contrast differences. Do you understand?

    Too long to explain here. Do a google on this.
    My name is Zeckson a.k.a. Zec@Work

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    And this is the final image. Simple editing that most members can follow.

    My name is Zeckson a.k.a. Zec@Work

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    Simple isn't it? But a lot of things to do. There are no secrets, just a lot of hardwork. If you want your images to stand out, this hardworking part must not be taken lightly. I spent a lot of time experimenting, trying and failing and finally discovered these methods.

    These are actually trade secrets among photographers. Almost all of us are not willing to reveal our original images direct from cameras and our post processing workflow because it is our rice bowl. Revealing these methods is like pouring our rice into the river because once everybody knows it, everybody can do it. These methods will no longer be niche and demand will drop and eventually it will affect the photography business.

    The reason why I am releasing my methods to you is because I see the need to educate our members properly and to improve the general standards of photos posted here in PhotoMalaysia. I am also challenging myself by revelaing my trade secrets because when it becomes a common knowledge to all, it will force me to continuously strive and push myself to look for ways to improve myself on other areas because people are catching up!

    I wish to stress again, POST PROCESSING IS THE LATER 50% PART OF THE COMPLETE PACKAGE. YOU STILL NEED TO GET YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY RIGHT FIRST!

    Hope this mini tutorial helps.
    My name is Zeckson a.k.a. Zec@Work

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    Tq bro.. Very useful info for beginner like me.. Thumb up to you..

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    Anyway, more images I had done that day. Ooo... I missed the streets of Bangkok...










    My name is Zeckson a.k.a. Zec@Work

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    full of information
    will learn and practice hard to gain this new skill
    Thanks for sharing

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    Quote Originally Posted by romeo View Post
    Tq bro.. Very useful info for beginner like me.. Thumb up to you..
    Quote Originally Posted by ed_sch84 View Post
    full of information
    will learn and practice hard to gain this new skill
    Thanks for sharing

    Learn them and use them well.
    My name is Zeckson a.k.a. Zec@Work

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    fantastic detailed explanation on pp...one of the few PM members that are willing to impart knowledege to the rest of fellow PMers. thanks again & hope to join in one of your session.!

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    Excellent stuff.

    I have moved this to the Articles & Reviews sub-forum.

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    Bro,

    Thanx for the detailed step-by-step posts. It's very helpful for someone like myself still strugling to find the best way to understand and make photoshop work for me.

    I was just noticing that May also has problems with her lips. Is there anything that can be done about her dried/chapped/cracked lookin lips? Is there any method u apply to make ur model's lips look luscious/more appealing?

    I'm not hoping for spoon feeding here. Just thought the post processing lesson would benefit from your finer tip on touching up lips.

    Thanks.

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    Hello there, this is very informative and useful guide. Thanks for sharing with us your experties and knowledge. Most valuable indeed.
    Regards

    Tonyphoto
    Last edited by tonyphoto; 21-03-2010 at 07:44 AM. Reason: spelling error

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    Thank you very much for this great tutorial. Bookmarked it.

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    Re: Beauty Retouching -- Zec@Work Style

    Brilliant stuff. Thanks for sharing.

    Regards, Ralverd

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