So apparently, I’m told, many of my friends and fellow photographers have been checking my blog for tips and hints for photoshop. So I thought it’d probably be time to actually post something. I have so much stuff I haven’t posted that I really should but I thought I’d start with this post.
Ok so what I’m going to do today is do a little walk through of how I edit and what I take into consideration. The important question is never ‘how’ it’s actually ‘why’ because any fool can follow a youtube video until the cows come home but if you have no concept of what is aesthetically pleasing in a portrait or haven’t developed your own style you’ll end up with pancake faces and blurred line (no jokes please)
I would always recommend anyone serious about portraiture and retouching to try doing some real life art classes because then you’ll understand about facial structure, shadows and highlights and colour. Faces are 3d, no one has a flat face unless they are Flat Stanley but he is too busy being posted to Timbuktu (showing my age there ha!)
Ok so without further ado here is my before and after
Do click for high resolution
So we begin with this image
This was shot with a ring light using my Pentax K5 and a Tamron 90mm lens at f2.8 at 1/100 sec shutter speed. No make up artist and an early evening shoot in my mum’s living room with a black bed sheet as a back ground… glamorous no?
So from here I look at the pic and envisage what I’m going to do
Red circles are for spot removal or discoloured areas
Yellow is for lightening and colour correction
White is for features that need preserving- in this case freckles.
Black is a guide for contouring using burn tools or in rare cases liquefy
So first of all I use frequency separation (which I will refer to often as FS) which you can type into youtube and immediately find a video explaining. I chose to do this in this instance because the model has discolored areas of skin but doesn’t have badly textured skin.
So C Layer is the Low frequency layer and C Copy is the high frequency layer. On the C layer I evened out the skin tone using clone stamp and on C copy layer I used both the healing brush and ptach tool to get rid of fine lines and dry skin flakes (In some cases I have to remove bogies, mustache hairs and mascara gloop)
Layer 1 is a colour layer set to blending mode soft light and 50% opacity which I used to colour the eyes, the eye make up and eyebrows using a soft brush with low opacity. Because we didn’t have a Make-Up artist to do most of my work for me (seriously they are a god send) I used this layer to essentially make the make up look as fabulous as I could.
Layer 2 is a dodge and burn layer also Soft light 50% Grey and I used black and white brushes to make highlights and shadows. I ended up setting it down to 50% because I found it to strong. I prefer things to look subtle especially as you want your retouching to look effortless. If your photoshop techniques are obvious by looking at an image then you need to refine your skills. I used this to high light the cheeks, irises and make up and darken the jaw, cheekbone and lashes.
Next was Dodge and Burn Curves Layers
Again this a technique that some one on youtube can explain much better than me. Unlike the previous dodge and burn work I’ve done during FS this one is for smoothing out smaller details such as little scars whilst preserving more detail which FS usually destroys (the bastard)
Next we move onto the Colour Work
The first layer is a Curves layer set to ‘color’ (If photoshop was British maybe it could be arsed to add the extra U that it is so clearly missing) which brings some vibrancy to the shadows which are were a bit grey. The next layer is a Colour Fill layer in which I’ve used a sandy kinda colour to blend out the red in the image- this is also set to ‘color’ blending mode at 23%
Next is a Hue/Saturation Layer where I brought the master saturation down to -32 because I don’t want it too bright and in-your-face plus the facial expression suits a slightly more somber mood. Then there is a second Hue/Saturation Layer where I’ve taken the red down to -28 to remove any stray red patches and bumped up the yellow saturation to +16 so the hair doesn’t look flat- The model has gorgeous hair and eyes and these are the features we want to pop.
Then there is the ol’ Selective Colour Layer where I’ve added +8 blacks into the reds, -6 yellow into the neutrals and +2 cyan +3 Magenta into the blacks
Then it’s all finished off by another Curves Layer
I used this Top curves layer to lighten the deep shadows but darken the mid-shadows so the face is defined and well contrasted. I like images to have a sense of depth, I want them to retain their dimensions at the very least or use them to define the subject.
But I’m not finished yet. Although it looks good I still wasn’t happy. I wanted just a touch more
I added another Colour Fill layer using a sienna type colour, set it to colour blending mode at 12%. I wanted the photo to be a touch richer and contrast with the models blue eyes. Then to just make those highlights a bit prettier popped another curves layer in and set it to luminosityblending mode at 20% opacity.
I also merged the FS/dodge&burn layers then duplicated and used the liquify tool to sculpt the neck.
And you have the final picture
Click for high res
With many thanks to the model Laura for letting use her image for this quick tutorial. She was concerned about people seeing her before but no model I ever have looks perfect before they go through photoshop- in fact Laura loks better then a bunch of them. Plus we had no make up artist and she’d just been floofing her hair about with a hair dryer for our previous images so she probably sweated off a lot of foundation.
Editing is much easier with a graphic tablets- I just use a kids bamboo one. It does the trick.
Although I shot in RAW I didn’t make any adjustments in camera RAW because I would have immediately forgotten what I did for this tutorial.
Everyone has different ideas of beauty, this image represents what I think looks good and you may not agree with it however any rude comments will not be tolerated.
Ring lights are amazing.
This post was brought to you whilst playing the Empire Records soundtrack- don’t forget April 8th is Rex Manning day!