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Taking It To The Next Level
Old 08-08-2010, 04:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hello All:

I have been trying out a few new Photoshop techniques to improve the quality of my photos. Two of the techniques I have been concentrating on are sharpening the eyes and skin smoothing. Now as many of you know I have never been a fan of the overprocessed, fake look that many photographers use on their models especially in the swimsuit photos but I do feel that skin smoothing is a valuable tool when used properly.

With this in mind I am posting two images I worked on today and the steps I took on these images.

The first image has minimal processing, adjust the Levels, use the Clone stamp and Healing brush, reduce size to 640 x 480 @ 72 dpi, and then a Smart Sharpen. Finally it was Saved For Web.

The second image has a lot more done to it but I think it could be better and in some ways I like image 1 better. For image two I adjusted the Levels and used the Clone and Healing tools but then I created a duplicate layer and used the Sharpen tool to touch up the eyes. Next, I created another duplicate layer and used the Quick Mask tool to target areas I wanted to improve the skin.

Next, selected Filter - Blur - Guassian Blur at 3 pixels. I then selected Filter - Noise - Add Noise at 2.5%, Uniform, and Monochromatic then I reduced the image to 640 x 480 @ 72 dpi and and then did a Save For Web.

I like the skin smoothing of image 2 but the eyes are not as sharp as in image 1. What did I do wrong and what can I do to pump up the sharpness of the eyes in image 2?

As always, help is always appreciated. Thanks.

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Taking It To The Next Level 


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Taking It To The Next Level 
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Re: Taking It To The Next Level
Old 08-08-2010, 07:40 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This is what I do. I take care of the big blemishes right away using clone stamp, spot healing and patch healing. Then I duplicate the layer, and gaussian blur it. I bring the opacity of that layer down to 30%. Then take the eraser at 100% and erase the blur from the eyes, hair, eye brow, nostrils, and lips and teeth. I also outline her skin so it doesnt blur into the background. So run a small sized eraser around the outlines of her body. While you are at 100%, erase everything that isnt skin and any tattoos. Then bring the eraser pressure down to 50% and Get the surrounding areas of the where you just did the 100% on the face so it blends better. I also run the 50% eraser along the nose lines. Select the original layer and do an unsharp mask to my liking. This is sharpening everything except where I left the blur. (Well it is sharpening the lines on the original layer, but the blur is still over laying it. Flatten, and adjust contrast. Done.

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Re: Taking It To The Next Level
Old 08-08-2010, 08:53 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Douglas:

Thanks for the tips, I will definitely give them a try. As I was looking at your response I noticed where you mentioned "flattening" the Layers. Is this something that has to be done to an image when you are working with Layers?

I have heard about Flattening and I see it in the menu in Photoshop but I had never known what it was or what it is for. I will have to add that to my arsenal.

Thanks!
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Re: Taking It To The Next Level
Old 08-08-2010, 09:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Well you would flatten the layers when you know you are for sure done with the image. Without flattening, it is saved as a PSD. (Photoshop Document). They are VERY large files because it keeps the layers seperate. If you are happy with the edited result then return it back to a jpg by flattening. I have never used the "Save For Web" function in PS. I am guessing this flattens the layers as well. Not sure what else it does.
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Re: Taking It To The Next Level
Old 08-09-2010, 07:23 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Take a look at the Portraiture filter from Imagenomics. It is amazing.
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Re: Taking It To The Next Level
Old 08-09-2010, 09:09 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by douglas carl View Post
Well you would flatten the layers when you know you are for sure done with the image. Without flattening, it is saved as a PSD. (Photoshop Document). They are VERY large files because it keeps the layers seperate. If you are happy with the edited result then return it back to a jpg by flattening. I have never used the "Save For Web" function in PS. I am guessing this flattens the layers as well. Not sure what else it does.
Thanks for the information, Douglas. I will try this when I have a few minutes and see how it works.

To answer your question, the Save For Web function strips out the EXIF data that is imbeded by a digital camera into every frame. It makes for a smaller file size.

Thanks again.
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Re: Taking It To The Next Level
Old 08-09-2010, 07:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Many photographers, including some magazines on occasion, go nuts over making the eyes look as though the person is lit internally by 1000 watt lightbulbs. Don't do that.






Next, here are two sources of good information for helpful retouching:

  1. CS4 Digital Retouching For Fashion Beauty And Portrait Photography
  2. Beauty & Hair Retouching High End Techniques
The first is an e-book by Gry Garness and second is a set of DVDs by Natalia Taffarel. Natalia used to be an active member at G1 or Garage Glamour. She's extremely good at retouching and is well respected by her peers. Just Google her to learn more.

When you blur, you destroy detail, which is not a good thing. For example, here's some discussion at a high end retouching house in London:

http://www.happyfinish.co.uk/

Quote:
What makes good Photo Retouching


Good photo retouching involves techniques that retain fine details and textures in an image. So when removing imperfections it is important not to reduce the information in the image by using simple blurring & softening techniques. At Happy Finish we understand good photo retouching, so for example our beauty retouching will be un-noticeable because the hairs and skin pores will still be present after we have finished.
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Last edited by Stecyk; 08-09-2010 at 11:01 PM..
 
Re: Taking It To The Next Level
Old 08-10-2010, 02:36 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Retouch techniques vary with photographer and application. I definately feel that sometimes it can be over the top. However, to come to the aid of some of those overdone photos, sometimes it's not the photographers choice, sometimes it's the demands of the client. I have had clients ask me to retouch to varying levels.

My method is similar to what Douglas mentions. Essentially work globally and then come in for the finer details. So sure, tone, ect. is done first. Then I work from large to small blemishes. That, in my flow, is done with a combination of the healing tool and the clone stamp. It depends on a number of issues. For example, the healing tool does not work well in places close to a high contrast transition. For example, at the chin line if below the chin is in shadow. I like the healing brush in the later versions of Photoshop because it does a good job of maintaining detail. ie. It maintains skin texture.

I tend to "soften" less. ie. not blur the skin too much because, to me, a certain level of texture is needed for it to look real. If you go too far you get the plastic doll look. While some want that, it does not look real. Below is an example of light changes. Notice the skin texture is good even after tha changes.





The other thing I'd like to mention is that on the example photo from the opening post, the original image is soft to begin with. In other words, in trying to make the eyes pop, you need to start with a well focused image. Then when softening the skin, if needed, make sure to mask the eyes on the blur (as mentioned on another post) so that you don't soften the sharp eyes. However, in the case of the opening post, you would not be able to bring the sharpness into the eyes that is not there to begin with.

Another thing I'd like to mention is that, when possible, work "with" the subject in the stuido (location) more than "on" the subject in post process. In this case, the hair is well placed, the makeup is even, the shot is evenly lit, ect. For example, I don't have 30 strands of hair in her face to edit. Trust me, it's much easier to move the hair inthe studio than to remove it in photoshop. Bottom line...... it's a combination of a good shot and good post to get the right look in the final photo.
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Re: Taking It To The Next Level
Old 08-10-2010, 04:39 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Here's three free tutorials that you might find useful:

  1. That Soft Dior Look for Portraits
  2. Smooth Skin
  3. Beautify a Face
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Re: Taking It To The Next Level
Old 08-10-2010, 10:08 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by douglas carl View Post
This is what I do. I take care of the big blemishes right away using clone stamp, spot healing and patch healing. Then I duplicate the layer, and gaussian blur it. I bring the opacity of that layer down to 30%. Then take the eraser at 100% and erase the blur from the eyes, hair, eye brow, nostrils, and lips and teeth. I also outline her skin so it doesnt blur into the background. So run a small sized eraser around the outlines of her body. While you are at 100%, erase everything that isnt skin and any tattoos. Then bring the eraser pressure down to 50% and Get the surrounding areas of the where you just did the 100% on the face so it blends better. I also run the 50% eraser along the nose lines. Select the original layer and do an unsharp mask to my liking. This is sharpening everything except where I left the blur. (Well it is sharpening the lines on the original layer, but the blur is still over laying it. Flatten, and adjust contrast. Done.

Gentlemen, well done to all of you. This is the Garage Glamour that I grew to know, love, and respect all those many years ago. The members actually participated in the goings on here and actually contributed to the discussions in the Forums and not just hid away and posted an image every now and again. Bravo gentlemen, now let's keep the momentum going.

Doug, I have a question for you about your technique. You mention dropping the opacity of the Duplicate Layer to 30%. When I did this I could barely see the image to do the erasing. The model faded away and a sort of checkerboard pattern came to the forefront and it made it very hard for me to see where I needed to erase the Blur effect and outline the model. I had the Duplicate Layer checked and the Background Layer unchecked.

What did I miss or do wrong? Thanks.
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