Photography for Artists & Designers

Art & Design 265

Week 9:
Retouch Essentials
Moderate Stylization
For Next Week

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Week 10


Faces are the most common subject photographed.
Flesh tones are the most common problem in photos.

Portrait Retouching Essentials

These videos/tutorials deal with the basics that you need to be familiar with in order to refine portrait photos. They don't aim for special effects, expressive effects or any of the more outlandish traits that can be applied to images. They usually deal with "cleaning up" flaws or details that detract from the elegance of the subject or the consistency of the image.

Here's a series of 10 video tutorials on Portrait Retouching in Photoshop from

These video tutorials are comfortably paced, informative, and practical. The examples follow a professional portrait photo retouch session using wedding photos — images that don't need radical effects, but do need to be as refined and beautiful as possible.

Part I – Adobe Camera Raw Editing and Importing into Photoshop :
Initial image prep in Camera Raw to get color and contrast good.
ACR: Adjust color temperature in CR; Recovery to soften highlights; Raise Clarity and Vibrance a bit; lower Brightness.
ACR: Detail Enhancements Panel to adjust sharpening (+100); increase radius; increase masking...

Part II – Learning and Setting the Healing Brush Presets
PS: Using the Healing tools to refine skin blemishes -- Spot Healing Brush, Healing Brush and Patch Tool.
Shortcut settings discussed.
Spot Healing Brush guesses what's needed according to whatever's around the edited area. Be sure "Content Aware" is ON.
Healing Brush Tool allows you to sample idea color/texture (alt-click). Then you paint over the problem areas. Pick a brush shape appropriate to the repair areas, as demonstrated here.
Patch Selection Tool allows you to lasso a problem area.

Part III – Healing Blemishes and Unwanted Detail
Remove unwanted details using healing brushes.
Do your edits on a new layer to preserve the original.
Start with the Spot Healing Tool, with brush close to the size of the errors. Go over areas multiple times to refine further.
Note how he choose which of his healing/retouch tools to use for particular problems.

Part IV – Diminishing Eye and Age Lines :
Presents restrained use of the clone-stamp tool to diminish (rather than to remover) details. In portrait and figure images, many features need to be softened rather then removered. Over-editing is a common problem that results in odd, plastic or overworked looking images.
New Curves layer associated only with next-lower layer (Ctrl-alt-G) to selectively alter skin tones.
Blur effects to soften transitions.
Part V – Correcting Skin Tone Shifts and Tan Lines
Part VI – Softening Skin When Necessary
Part VII – Retouching the Eyes
Part VIII – Cleaning Up Stray Hair and Other Detail
Part IX – Enhancing and Sharpening Image Details
Part X – Final Color Adjustments
Full RAW Exercise File (13MB) : if you want to follow these tutorial videos exactly, you can use their images.


A 2-article tutorial series covering skin-refinement essentials.

Professional Retouching Tutorial: Healing (Part 1)
Basic tactics and process for "healing" with minimal evidence.
Use the Clone Stamp with Lighten blend mode for darker blemishes and Darken blend mode for lighter distractions.

Professional Retouching Tutorial: Dodge and Burn (Part 2)
Use Dodge and Burn to push and pull shadows and highlights without altering skin texture. Modify the effect with Curves-controled masks.

Realistic Portrait Retouching With Photoshop: This step-by-step article covers the basics of retouching minor flaws in portrait photographs.
Basic Portrait Retouching in Photoshop: this article also covers the basics nicely.
Retouch a Portrait with Flawless Natural Skin***: This step-by-step article uses the Spot Healing Brush Tool and Smart Sharpening to enhance skin and details. Some of the techniques provide basic cleanup. The later techniques move into a more glamour enhancement. The techniques are pretty efficient, and, thus worth knowing.
Master a Professional Photo Retouching Workflow: Provides an outline of start-to-finish retouching practices and sequence.
How to whiten teeth : a step-by-step article covering a simple Quick-Mask technique to whiten teeth.
Portrait Retouching pt1 : Skin-blemish cleanup video tutorial.
Retouching And Photo Enhancing Tutorials : a collection of retouching tutorial articles and videos are linked here. Some emphasize the usual skin-cleanup/smoothing tactices, others explore eye enhancements, teeth whitening etc. Quality varies, but there's some useful material here.

70 Beauty-Retouching Tutorials:These tutorials touch on most any aspect of face and figure retouching. Quality varies and some are likely rather old (2008?)

See iTunes Podcasts: Understanding Adobe Photoshop (UAP) with Richard Harrington:
252 Giving Images a Retro Look
248 Stylizing Skin Tones

Several short tactics for enhancing images of faces.

— Skin Retouching In Camera Raw offers a way to soften flesh tones non-destructively.
— Alter the lighting quality using Setting Lights tactics.

Part17: PS Basix:  Portrait Retouch

Part 17: What Do I Need to Retouch Portraits? will explain a little about the Red-eye removal tool, Healing brushes, the Mixer Brush tool, and how to use them to retouch your photographs.
The latest versions of PS have added some fairly automated tools for typical, common photo errors.  Get to know these as they can save time recovering not-quite-perfect images.
Spot healing brush.  
Red-eye removal tool.
Healing Brush Tool applied to a retouch layer with adjustable opacity.
Mixer Brush Tool for retouching portrait skin.

Portrait Retouching for a Mature Audience

What if your subject is not a 22 year old model... that is,if you're retouching a normal person with wrinkles? What retouch tactics might help? Try this video tutrial.

Skin Retouching in Photoshop CS3 video covers techniques that have been around for a while, but are still valid.

Useful Photoshop Tips And Tricks For Photo Retouching

Photo Retouching Tips And Tricks In Photoshop

The Ultimate Guide To Cloning In Photoshop

Unknown Tricks and Time-Savers


Moderate Special Effects

These tutorials and demonstrations begin exploring the endless effects and enhancements that can be applied to portrait and figure imagery. These are not demonstrations of the most radical or expressive effects, but they do move away from any attempt to mimic true-to-life imagery.

*** 209 Photoshop CS5: Creative Effects | link1 | *** youTube |
A pair of portraits are here enhanced by altering color traits via the Hue-Saturation tools, Soft-Light blending mode to create a variety of interesting image traits that can enhance

A mild special effect for portraits: Creating the Dreamy Vintage Look from W Magazine in Photoshop – Photoshop Video Tutorial
Includes sample files and video tutorial.
Photoshop Tutorial: Portrait Glow Effect: this video tutorial covers another moderate special effect.
Facial Retouching in Photoshop: compare the final and original image. This is a decent step-by-step article.

 Lomo Photography Effect Tutorial – Lomography Photoshop Video Tutorial: This really is a bit beyond "moderate" -- depending on the settings you choose, the effects can be wonderfully bizarre.

— Duotones are a popular technique in which an image is converted into two and only two base color — this traditionally involves printing with only two colors of ink in order to save printing costs. The Split-Toning Effect is similar in quality to a duotone.
— Create particularly pale skin using the tactics described in Distinguished Paleness.
— Enhance lighting contrast and modeling of the facing using the Dodge And Burn Look.
— Punch up the graphic impact of eyes using Bright Eyes tactic.
— Create an interesting glow and blur quality by trying The Orton Effect.

Stylized Skin Tones

Understanding Adobe Photoshop: Richard Harrington
248  Stylizing Skin Tones
*** Some useful basic techniques
Skin tones are critical, varied…and not obvious.  You have all sorts of ways to adjust skin tones, but no one technique is always right.
Smart Object with Gaussian Blur
Filter: Blur: Gaussian Blur
Change Blend mode:  Soft Light … Multiply

A Killer Portrait Adjustment

Portrait photos almost always benefit from retouching techniques.  Advertising imagery is virtually always heavily retouched to an idealistic perfection.  The technique illustrated here is somewhat unique, fairly easy, and can be quite helpful.  (set it up a a script/action)
Hue-Saturation layer:
Hue ~33 to add orange to tone, thus enhancing flesh tones
Layers Menu: Blend mode to Soft Light
Add Levels Layer:  move output levels:  9-255 to recover tones in darks/blacks
(the second part of the tutorial/video involves a frame-action set.  Nifty stuff, but the really useful tools are in the first half of this video)




General Repair and Retouch Tool Tutorials


The Adobe Creative Suite Podcast:  What to do When Content Aware Fill or Content Aware Scale Doesn't Work

Content Aware tools are impressive…and can be tricky.  Just when you expect them to do magic, they do odd things.
Here are some particular examples of things going wrong, and how to anticipate and prepare for them.


The Adobe Creative Suite Podcast:  Fix a Family Photo using Photoshop CS5

CS5 Retouch tools are presented here…the Magic Healing tools are quite an upgrade over prior tools.
Retouching a couple of typical tourist snapshots with not-quite-right details.

The Adobe Creative Suite Podcast:  Retouching old photos

CS2 Retouch tools to recover an all photo with stains, color-shifts, tears and missing fragments
[compare to CS5 tools]


Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcasts:
How To Use The Photoshop CS5 Patch Tool To Fix Things In Portrait Retouching  12.36
Good intro to image corrections using the Patch Tool.  Both the benefits and the limitations of the tool are illustrated…some unintentionally.
Patch Tool:    
1) draw a selection around the problem area
2) drag that selected area towards an area with similar, but correct color/texture.
3) Watch the dynamic preview of repaired area… release when good.  
work with several small patches rather than trying to cover a large area with a single correction.

As with most detail-corrections, you must think like a realist painter.  Many details can be corrected easily, but the forms, colors and shading on fleshtones is very subtle.  Many minor adjustments create odd or awkward subtleties. 
Note:  compare these techniques to non-destructive tactics using two image layer and a mask controlling impact of edited image on the original image.

Clone Stamp Tool:  Lighten Mode  -- enables you to only lighted shadow areas

PodCast: Adobe Creative Suite Podcast: What to Do when Content Aware Scale Doesn’t Work
Content Aware Scale
Content Aware Fill
Content Aware Scale attempts to stretch images without distorting details within the image.  It sometimes work well…sometimes not.
When Content Aware Scale does NOT work, what can you do to help the software work?
Select the key subject area.  Save selection as channel.
Then do a CAS with Protect applied to the saved channel.  PS now scales the image without disturbing the protected area.
Content Aware Fill
Select the area to delete.  Use Shift-Delete (or Fill)
To declare areas to NOT use for CAF, select

Extreme selections for radical alterations

Photoshop Top 40, Feature #23: Color Range covers some selection and alteration tactics that might be handy for radically altering images — or, when used with softer color edits, for more typical image enhancements.


The Adobe Creative Suite Podcast:  How To Use The Photoshop CS5 Patch Tool To Fix Things In Portrait Retouching

Patch Tool
Portrait Retouching

Create separate image layer and make edits to that layer.  Later you can adjust Layer opacity to revise the degree of influence of your retouches.

Select problem area.  Drag toward “clean” area.

Clone Stamp Tool:   Mode: Lighten   Opacity: 40


Photoshop Top 40 with Deke McClelland:  Photoshop CS5 Top 5 Tip #5: Common Sense Enhancements


The Adobe Creative Suite Podcast:  How To Use The Photoshop CS5 Patch Tool To Fix Things In Portrait Retouching

Patch Tool
Portrait Retouching

Create separate image layer and make edits to that layer.  Later you can adjust Layer opacity to revise the degree of influence of your retouches.

Select problem area.  Drag toward “clean” area.

Clone Stamp Tool:   Mode: Lighten   Opacity: 40



Shooting Portraits

Portrait photography is an art in itself.
Endless books, workshops, courses and tutorials exist to move you along.
Here are a few online resources:

Rick Sammon on Portrait Photography video presentation/lecture.


Content-Aware Filling and Healing/Harrington/Understanding Photoshop

This video covers the basics of the new image-repair tools.

Explore these tools in CS5 and find some less-than-perfect images. Watch out of imperfections introduced by these tools. These tools are impressive, but they rely on many existing traits within the image, and they make assumptions about what improvements are to be made. But they can't read your mind, and they can't revisit the site of the photo --- these tools just "guess" really well.

You might review these links/articles/videos for still more ideas on how to recover/repair images

Useful Photoshop Tips And Tricks For Photo Retouching

Photo Retouching Tips And Tricks In Photoshop

The Ultimate Guide To Cloning In Photoshop

Unknown Tricks and Time-Savers



For Next Week

— Face Set:
Shoot a set of images of faces. (shoot at least 24 images)
Shoot some with strong side-lighting, some with direct sunlight, some with soft indirect light. Explore how the most basic lighting conditions alter the effect of portraiture.

*** DO ONE of the following for this week.... and the other for the following week:
Clean-up Retouch: Provide an elegant "cleanup" of one of those images. Aim to remove or smooth any skin blemishes or distractions. Be very careful to maintain the likeness and the aliveness of your subject (over-editing can destroy one or both).
The most thorough demonstration are available from As described further above, the tutorials begin Retouch Essentials

Stylized Retouch: There are endless ways to add a stylized quality to portrait images. Explore online tutorials for tactics to try. You might try the techniques illustrated in this tutorial video on youTube. It fairly easy, gives you a good deal of control, and the effects and be impressive. But remember that there is no one right effect for an image. The challenge is to get to know your tools, get to know what image styles others have created, and figure out how and when to apply them.
Check out the "Moderate Effects" section, above.


The articles linked/discussed above deal with portrait correction-retouch techniques.
Those are the key skills you'll needed.

Your full-size, Photoshop image should be at least 4mpix.

Create a lower-resolution version of your images for uploading to DropBox.
Follow the steps illustrated here to create a 2-megapixel version of your image for in-class viewing.

Save those images to your DropBox Art265_Photography folder.
Create a folder called: Ex11_Portraits
a) the low-res versions of your original images saved as JPG (Face Set, Clean-upBefore, & StylizedBefore)
b) the final 2 repaired images, each as low-res JPGs. (Clean-upAfter & StylizedAfter)


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