Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Initial retouching considerations, part of Photoshop CS3 Portrait Retouching Essentials.
One of the things that we need to do before we actually begin retouching our images is consider a few things, and the first thing that I want to consider is genre. Let's talk about genre in regards to literature, in order to understand how genre relates to photography in Photoshop and retouching in Photoshop. Let's say I'm a writer, and I'm writing in the genre of poetry. Well I can then take poetic license. On the other hand, let's say I'm a writer and I'm writing in the genre journalism. I'm going to write very differently. It's as if the genre informs what and how I write.
And the same thing is true with Photoshop and with retouching. Let's consider the photographic genre of fashion. Here we have this image on the left of this amazing makeup artist who is applying the makeup to this model for this fashion shoot. You know is the genre of fashion photography, a lot of makeup is used. In this next image we can see that make up is actually airbrushed on the model. In another image or we has see that the lipstick is applied with a small paintbrush. So when we're doing retouching on fashion images we're going to do some pretty heavy retouching. Of course it needs to be delicate, it needs to be artistic, yet we're going to do a lot of retouching, because we're in the genre of fashion photography. On the other hand, let's say we're in a different genre of photography.
This image is a photograph of my sister and my brother-in-law. In this particular image I want to capture this authentic warmth and this excitement of their baby that's about to be born therefore my retouching is going to be pretty minimal. It's going to be about reducing and simplifying and warming the image in order to capture this moment. In this next image I have a self-portrait here that I've assembled and the retouching that I'm going to go for here's going to be again very minimal, because I want to create an image that's a little bit raw, a little bit authentic.
And my retouching's going to be guided by this genre that I've self imposed on this particular project of trying to create an image that's graphic, that's simple, that's clean, that's authentic, so all that I'm going to do is reduce some of the blemishes that are in the background. We do keep in mind that details matter. That in photography what we're really aiming to do is to reduce and simplify in order to create an image that has more impact. In this particular image, the strap there, that detail, really matters. Removing that detail makes the image so much stronger. Here again is our before and then after.
One of the things that happens as we get into these details is we can become overwhelmed by the amount of details or we can hit a wall or we can get bogged down by the amount of work that needs to be done. And as that happens, I hope that you keep in mind that this whole retouching thing, this whole photographic thing, is about enjoying the journey. It's about enjoying the process, that people photography is about capturing these moments that are absolutely precious. Here's this wonderful photograph of one of my best friend's son Dylan. Here's another photograph of my daughter and her friends and the retouching that I'm doing here is about trying to create an image that has more impact. And a couple a days ago, a good friend of mine, Greg, took some family portraits of myself and our family. One of things that I was struck by this process was that Greg helped us enjoy the process of being photographed. You know being photographed isn't really that much fun but somehow he enabled us, he empowered us to enjoy this process. So he captured these images that really captured the sense of fun and play in our family, which is absolutely wonderful and part of what my goal is with this training is to help you enjoy this process. Realize that what this is all about is creating images that have more impact and as we get into this, I hope that we keep this in mind.
One of the people that has really affected me has been Russell Brown. Russell Brown is the senior creative director at Adobe and one of things that Russell has taught me is that in order to learn we have fun. In order to be creative, we need to have fun, in order to come up with great results, we need to have fun. Russell has a lot of fun. And so my hope is that as you get into retouching that you enjoy the process of retouching, you enjoy the journey and as we're enjoying the journey, we also need to keep in mind, we need a system of checks and balances.
Now Russell's very fun, but he's also a deep thinker, a strong thinker. He has an incredible mind. We need to evaluate things as we retouch our images. Now I cannot tell you how many retouching portfolios I've looked at. Student retouching portfolios, I should say, where the before is better than the after. Every time I see those portfolios, I ask the students, "Hey, what happened? How come the before is better than the after?" And they say, "Well, I don't know but you know, it took me 10 hours." And I say, "Yeah well it's not better though." And they say, "Yeah, but it took me 10 hours!" And I say, "Yeah, but the before was better, what happened?" "But it took me 10 hours!" And it's as if the amount of time, the amount of blood, sweat and tears that went into the retouching validated the retouching. What we need to do is create a system of checks and balances so that doesn't happen so that we're not overly endeared with our retouching simply because the amount of effort, energy and time we put into that retouching.
And here's what that could look like. It could be something as simple as inviting someone to look at your images with you. You know when I look at my images on my own computer by myself, I see certain things. When someone comes up next to me and looks at that image with me, I see a whole new set of problems and a whole new set of the things that are good about the image, because I'm now looking at the image through my eyes, and through their eyes as well. Or it could be that you need to e-mail friends your photographs before you actually submit them to your clients, but we need some kind of a system of checks and balances so that we make sure that our retouching's actually worth while and as we get in this process of retouching another important question that comes up when is the image finished? I get this question quite a bit. Chris, how do you know when you're done with a photograph? Well, the answer is I often don't know when I'm done but what I do know from photography is this. There's a lot of preparation that leads up to the shoot as we can see with this fashion shoot, but eventually we need to pull the trigger, we need to push the shutter release button and take the actual image. All the preparation leads up to that moment.
And the same thing's true with retouching. A lot goes into retouching an image and eventually we have to say, "Enough's enough! The image is good enough." Because what can often happen in retouching is we strive for this perfection, this unattainable level of perfection that's impossible to attain and therefore we never complete our retouching. So as you dig in this retouching process keep in mind that it is a process. There's a genre that we're entering into as we retouch. You want to reduce and simplify. We're keeping in mind that details really do matter. We want to have some fun along the way and then have a system of checks and balances and eventually say, "You know what? It's good enough or it's good enough for today." and live with that.
Look away from your computer and look back at it. My hope is that as you get in the retouching that these considerations will guide how you work and that ultimately they'll help you create images with more impact.
Those wishing to see these skills applied in greater detail may also enjoy Photoshop CS3 Portrait Retouching Techniques.
- Strategizing a retouching workflow
- Correcting color and tone
- Cleaning up images in Camera Raw
- Removing distractions
- Enhancing structure and symmetry
- Reducing and removing wrinkles
- Sculpting facial features and body parts
- Whitening and brightening teeth
- Changing eyes
- Smoothing skin
Skill Level Intermediate
Photoshop CS3 Portrait Retouching Techniqueswith Chris Orwig8h 35m Intermediate
Beyond Skin: Going Deeper with Photoshop CS3with Lee Varis3h 56m Intermediate
1. Retouching Roadmap
2. Correcting Color and Tone
3. Cleaning Up Images in Camera Raw
4. Cleaning Up Images in Photoshop
5. Structural Image Enhancements
6. Reducing and Removing Wrinkles
7. Enhancing Eyes
8. Enhancing Eyelashes and Eyebrows
9. Improving Hair
10. Improving Faces and Bodies
11. Fixing Teeth
12. Improving Makeup
13. Enhancing Skin
14. Softening Skin
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