Beauty retouching is now within individuals’ reach.
The specialized $10 – 100,000 Barco Creator has made way for Adobe Photoshop, giving photographers a whole new avenue of earning potential, and reshaping expectations of photography. Twenty years of Photoshopping has inevitably created a new “beauty consensus,” within which the manipulated face is an integral part of advertising, celebrity, the music industry, fashion and magazines. Beauty retouching is a big business, and high-end “beautifiers” are in great demand.
Learning beauty retouching will benefit your work. But if you master it, you’ll have created new earning potential for yourself.
Beauty retouching is no longer restricted to whitening teeth, removing freckles and smoothing skin; before and after images speak volumes to the artistry involved. It’s about face contouring, 3D modeling, shaping hair and eyes, adding lashes, reshaping lips, convincingly altering the subject’s figure and even adding clouds in the background if needed. It is about creating an impeccable finish and the ability to be inventive when the shot demands it.
No matter which field of beauty retouching appeals to you the most, be it glamour, advertising, fashion, celebrity or the music industry, an inside-out knowledge of Adobe’s gem is a must. “Learn Photoshop thoroughly,” says Carrie Beene, “do tutorials, practice, practice, practice.”
Though they tend to be scattershot or incomplete, there are dozens of free tutorials online you can take advantage of. Some, such as Photoshop Support are text-based, but most are video, like this example from Glyn Dewis.
For a more comprehensive guide, DVDs are great; iPad-friendly DVDs are even better. Unlike digital video, app-friendly DVDs let you watch the tutorial on the iPad while running Photoshop on your main computer. They also allow users to navigate by menu or text search, which is handy for referencing while working on an image. You also have the pinch and zoom option for close examination, and the ability to adjust scrubbing rate from high speed to half, quarter and Fine.
It is impossible for a single DVD to cover all styles and markets, but good instructors will equip you with Photoshop know-how that can be adapted as needed. One iPad app that does so is Professional Retouching Secrets by Karl Taylor, an adapted version of Taylor’s DVD of the same title.
Rather than the interactive set of tools you would expect an app to be, this tutorial demonstrates that there are several methods to achieve a result in Photoshop. For example, you can remove a dark stray hair using the Healing brush or the Cloning tool, but you can also use the Lighten Blend Mode at just the right opacity for an equally flawless result.
Many chapters start with an introduction to the tools used, then move on to detailed looks at topics like light shaping, treating skin blemishes, stray hairs, lips, eyes, eyebrows, skin smoothing, hue and saturation, hair roots, curves, and the Burn and Dodge and Sharpen tools. The app runs through the beauty retouch process of three different images, with handy relevant Mac and PC keyboard shortcut combinations showing on screen throughout.
There is plenty of useful general advice about how best to approach a retouching task. Before removing an unsightly lamppost, for example, Karl suggests thinking of the unwanted item in Photoshop terms like color and shape, rather than just the object it is. This will help your retouching ‘vision’ and solve problems like how to keep the graduated sky behind the lamppost uninterrupted.
There are more advanced lessons inside as well. We see a model’s jaw line reshaped using the Warp tool, for example, with Freeze Mask in place to stop certain parts from being affected; we see alternatives to Dodge and Burn, where Karl creates a new Layer in Overlay Mode and Fills it with 50% Neutral Grey. After commenting on the layer’s visibility, he continues to set Foreground and Background colors in the tools box. He loads the brush with white color and applies it to lighten the skin, the brush now acting as a Dodge tool. Karl expands on the advantages of employing a separate layer for this purpose, and after the layer is Merged down, shows us an Action we can set up for this oft-used feature.
Taylor has created a clear, constructive tutorial that serves as a comprehensive guide to beauty retouching. It costs the same price as the $120 DVD, so not your average pocket money app, and beginners will struggle to follow at times, as it assumes an intermediate knowledge of Photoshop.