Behind The Retouching | Ramel Adjibi
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Running Time: 40 minutes
Welcome to Behind the Retouching, a professional avenue where I can mentor and critique the work of my students, as well as discuss individual techniques in detail. For each session, I will be breaking down my students’ submissions, suggesting areas for improvement and recommending adjustments that I would have done differently in order to create a better image.
For this session, I’ll analyze the work of Ramel Adjibi. This is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to better understand the rationale behind what I do and which tools I use. So if you’re a passionate and elite retoucher who wants to master the Art of Retouching, check out my pointers below regarding the image, and I’m sure you will be able to relate.
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Without further ado, let’s go behind the scenes and explore these concepts for you to become a better photo retoucher:
- Don’t try to do too hard. It’s important to let the image flow and not simply mimic what other popular retouchers are doing.
- Warm colors go forward; cool colors go back.
- Bright Tone comes forward; dark tone goes backward.
- The brightest object in the portrait should be the model’s face—anything else just follows to help it look natural. Remember to always avoid making it too strong, and look like you intentionally manipulated the tones.
- Local adjustments using the Adjustment Brush does wonders when isolating areas in an image to make changes in tone.
- By darkening different areas of the image, you can draw the viewer’s eye where you want it to go. Normally, this would be the face, hands, or other important props.
- Always open an image as a Smart Object from Camera Raw into Photoshop. This will give you the greatest flexibility, and give you the most non-destructive workflow possible.
- Color Range is useful when selecting the background.
- Be mindful of colors that don’t complement each other—a green in the backdrop could give the overall image green or otherwise sick looking color. Above all other colors, avoid a green color cast in portraits.
- Again, don’t try too hard. If you apply too many effects and use too many adjustment tools, your image might end up completely devoid of any detail. Additionally, it’s important to realize when you are about to overwork an image. If you do too much, it will look fake, and call attention to the poor retouching.
- You can use Smart Sharpen or Unsharp Mask to sharpen eyes or enhance weak textures. The biggest difference between the two is the way it handles middle, non-contrast areas. Smart Sharpen will ignore it, but Unsharp Mask will give it a pasty look by mushing the color together. To be more specific, Unsharp Mask used on skin without much texture, can actually remove what you have left.
- Imagenomic Portraiture can make portrait retouching loads easier for you when pressed for time. Why take 2 hours to do the same thing in 30 seconds? Think about it.
- Imperfections help the believability of an image. So, every now and then, leave a stray hair or blemish. It will help sell the rest of the retouching as believable truth.
- You can use the healing brush to help remove blemishes without your image looking too fake. It also helps on smaller, discolored areas. You can use Frequency Separation as well, but that takes more practice to do it properly.
- While Dodge and Burn is used by every portrait retoucher, it may or may not work when balancing skin texture. The reality is that there are limitations to the various techniques. The only way to identify and avoid them is with practice.
- When you’re feeling too lost in the details, take a step back and look at the image from an external point of view—that’s where you’ll find your overall goal. Make the image really tiny to only show the color and tone. Make it full screen without palettes. Rotate it upside-down if you need to, whatever it takes to reset your impression of the image.
- Remember to imagine the cross of the face to balance your lighting. It will also help with added dimension. Cross the brow, and down the nose.
- Remember, the eyes are the doorway to the soul. Opening up a model’s eyes can create a beautifully vivid punch. However, there are styles that require a more natural and darker approach. It really depends if it is about a Mascara product ad, or fashion, or beauty. What’s your goal?
- Always get rid of extra layers to avoid clutter. Be sure to name them too when appropriate. Keep it clean and deliberate.
- Flyaway hair can be cleaned up with Spot Healing, or other techniques. The usual goal is to remove the most offending and distracting ones, but not so much that it looks cut out and fake.
Now that we’ve gone through the image in detail, take a look and compare the original work against mine. What are the most striking differences? Were you able to see the areas for improvement? Overall, the biggest takeaway from this session is this: do not fall into the trap of trying to do too much. Too many adjustments reduce the believability of an image, so leave an imperfection or two as it is. These models are only human, right? Have a sense of when you’re overworking a photo, and when you’re feeling too overwhelmed by all the details, take a step back and remember your goal.
Reanalyze. Reset. And get right back to it.
I hope that everyone was able to benefit greatly from this in-depth and real-time look into an actual student’s work. I’ll be mentoring more talented retouchers on their path to Photoshop Perfection, so be sure to stick around for the next installments of Behind the Retouching.
And that’s it for now! You can learn more in my Basic I Photoshop Course to help you master the Art of Retouching.