By Crawford Hart.
Part 1 of this series provided an overview of some of the generally accepted approaches to the problem of achieving perfect skin.
Part 2 dealt with masks and filters to improve the tone and look of skin.
Now, in Part 3, Crawford takes you step by step and stroke by stroke through a demanding retouching assignment. Each part is a video clip of him actually working on the file, so that you can see exactly what it is that he's doing.
This is the third installment of my series on skin retouching, but before we cover any new material (there isn't much, actually), I want to to revisit the techniques that were discussed in Parts 1 and 2 and show how they might all come together in a real world workflow.
As before, my target audience is the typical dGrinner: a savvy photographer who knows a lot about images, and wants to bring their post-production use of Photoshop up to speed, particularly in the difficult area of skin retouching. I assume a working knowledge of Photoshop; this isn't intended as a beginner's tutorial. The use of masking, curves, tools and layers are presented with minimal explanation. I'm working with Photoshop CS1. CS2 offered little to nothing that would have altered the basic workflow described here. CS3 has some interesting new features but I'm not familiar enough with them to determine whether or not they would offer serious enhancements to the process. However, I doubt it. Retouching has never been whizz-bang stuff. It's pretty boring, lots of grunt work and steps repeated over and over. Patience is essential, experience with Zen meditation useful. Most efforts I've seen to streamline the process and eliminate the repetitive steps wind up costing more time while you undo the unsatisfactory result and go back to square one to do it right. If you're still using Version 7, you shouldn't have any problems but anything earlier than that and you're on your own. Perhaps this will inspire you to upgrade.
For this project I want to start with this highly characteristic face, generously dontated by dGrin member HollyC for the purposes of this presentation, and perform a sort of extreme makeover, see if we can turn back the clock about thirty years or so. While this kind of assignment can come up from time to time in advertising work, it's doubtful that anyone would need to make such drastic moves in normal portrait work. However, all the techniques under discussion—reducing and removing wrinkles, creating even skin texture, smoothing the skin tones and face sculpting—all have a place in any portrait workflow.
I faced two problems in preparing these videos. The first, I can't do much about: improvising a presentation in front of a live microphone is a special talent, the lack of which explains why I never pursued a career in talk radio. I ask your indulgence and tolerance for any obvious shortcomings in this area. The other has been the need to structure the work in a series of concisely packaged steps. It would be nice if the real world worked like that, and sometimes it does—one always has a general sense of what things need to be done first, what should be left until later steps—but it's far more an intuitive process, at least for me, than what I suggest here. Quite often I have no idea how I'm going to proceed until I begin. You try A, you try B, you try C, then you go back and try B again, and slowly your course of action takes shape. The idea that a job like this can be crystallized into a recipe, a fixed set of steps, is hopefully optimistic but seldom the case. What's important is understanding the territory, knowing the kinds of things that can be done, and, more important, the kinds of things that really don't work. I've tried to offer that, as well as a clear guide as to how one might apply these techniques to their own workflow.
The rest of this tutorial is presented in a series of videos. You must download each one to view them, and they require QuickTime 7. Just click the links below, download the videos, and then view them locally on your computer. NOTE: These links may not work on IE. Please use Firefox, Flock, or Safari to download these videos.
1 Clone and Heal (27MB)
2 Wrinkles (16MB)
3 Targeted Curves (18MB)
4 Touch Up (7MB)
5 Sculpting (14MB)
6 Skin Mask (9MB)
7 Smoothing (29MB) Links mentioned in this tutorial: 1 and 2
More coming soon!!!
You can ask questions, or discuss this tutorial on Digital Grin