PSadv – 05

This class is all about retouching small structures and fine details. This is useful for portraits, our topic in this class. But the techniques involved can be used in so many other ways.

Portrait retouching in my opinion is a very delicate subject as it involves literally working on another persons face. Si I try to be subtle and to keep the original expression and not change too much. The techniques I explain here can be used also for very extreme Photoshop “Makeovers” so keep in mind, that it’s up to you how far you go. Also different projects will need different amounts of retouching. A portrait Foto for a resume will look different than a movie poster. A photo for small printing or screens will need less detailed work than if you print it on a citylight and people see it more close up.

Also because I feel that the whole retouching theme needs a bit of reflecting upon I added a lot of links to a wide variety of theoretical videos or articles that may be of interest. You find them at the bottom. Watching them is optional.

Home Assignment

Retouch one of the portraits provided in the base.
Or one of your own photos.

Before & After

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The Process

Cleaning Skin with Stamp tool and healing brush

Frequency separation

Adjusting frequencies

Dodge and Burn

Luminosity Masks

Luminosity Mask Action used in the video – Download here


Explanation – older PS versions

Some adjustments in class 05 and 06 are applied directly to smart objects. This is not possible in older PS Versions. In this video I explain the work around:

Theory on retouching

Before and Afters – What is being retouched and edited 

Some Retouchers showing you how their before and afters look. It’s a great way to reflect on your own retouching, by looking at the work done by other people and see how far they went and what you would do different, if so.

These I consider quite tasteful and well done. At least a few of the retouchees are men…

To see a wide variety of what is being retouched: Google “before and after retouch”
Even if completely over the top, unnecessary or bordering on completely bonkers. Also notice how this just googles “before and after retouch” and it almost exclusively focuses on women and a quite retro point of view of what needs to be “retouched” and what not.

General Question on Photo manipulation being Art or Cheating.

One commenter writes:

If a photograph is presented as art, image manipulation is part of the medium. If a photograph is presented as journalism, then image manipulation is manipulation of truth.

… and about portrait photography

Jamie Windsor talks about portraits and if they can “…really capture that person’s soul”

One single image can’t communicate the complexities, nuances, contradictions, thoughts and feelings of a human being. I think at best this is a misunderstanding of what photography can do, and at worst, a deliberate manipulation of how an audience perceives a person or people. To explain the latter a little more, we need to look at Dorothea Lange’s iconic image of the Migrant Mother.

How Much is Too Much Retouching?

Norman Posselts – Berlin based photographer, describes well,
what and how he does retouching

Why retouching at all? Quick answer: we all have viewing habits. Also there is a difference in looking at someone face to face or at a photograph. The perception is totally different. You see more details, you pay much more attention to flaws, blemeshes, spots, wrinkles, dark under-eyes, you name it. In addition a camera gives its own interpretation of the real world that mostly is not the result you would expect and – more importantly – accept. Retouching helps to correct this.

Article from photographer/retoucher Gry Garness on the retouch or not debate:

Selfie Harm – Project by Rankin

Technical input

Technique – Luminosity Mask Action

Zoe Noble also has a youtube Channel with lot’s of great tutorials.

Article on 10 commandments of retouching

Frequency Separation Do/Don’t

Product retouch

A nice overview of how the techniques we learned so far can also be used in product retouching and cleaning up.

Before & after

Product retouching –  what can be done – an insight:


Architectural montages and retouching:
The Art of Moving Buildings