Skip to main content

Compositing for Commercial Photography

Lesson 8 of 12

Post Production Workflow Set-up

 

Compositing for Commercial Photography

Lesson 8 of 12

Post Production Workflow Set-up

 

Lesson Info

Post Production Workflow Set-up

I wanna talk about the job process that we're gonna do here, and I'd like to manage some expectations. This is definitely like a four- to six-hour job that we're gonna condense very small, and I'm gonna show you my main points and my main tips, and then before we're finished, I'm gonna show you a file that's more complete that I did in advance, so it's gonna look a little different, but just to give you some ideas. The other thing I feel very important about, and if any of you have taken my classes, you're gonna know this is kind of me, I am not your quick tips girl. I'm not your every step one kind of instructor. What I really want you to do is think about what the car is doing, how you're approaching Photoshop, how you're approaching all of this so that when you get into a cul-de-sac down the road, and you gotta turn your car around, you're not searching on YouTube or going, oh my heavens, how do I get outta here? That you actually understand the process that you're gonna go through,...

so this is not gonna be quick tips, this is gonna be great, this is a methodical job. Here is why I'm gonna say that. When I hire, I hire folks all the time for jobs for retouchers, and I find folks who have amazing books, they have the most crazy, beautiful artwork. They have no production skills. They don't know what it's like, yeah, that took them three weeks to do, but honey, we got two days to do this, we don't have three weeks. So the focus of this class is gonna be very practical. I think you're gonna get some great information out of it, and a lot of information about how to set your file up and how to manage, and I know it might be considered a little dry, but you wanna work and you wanna get paid, we're gonna have to do this, cool? So on that note, when I start a job, the first thing I have is I have mark ups from the client. This is imperative, now I've been doing this a really long time and I tell you, I think I can pretty much guess what needs doing. I'm not guessing, communication is key. So part of the mark-up process is not just for me, it's for my client. So we're on the same page, right? Okay, it's a little dark, right? You want this light, right, right? We're doing this kind of thing, so this is really a communication thing. Do you wanna take this out? Okay, we know the lines are funny, do you need it 3/4 down here, we're gonna change that, what about the background, oh, you wanna make sure you can see this, and I'm gonna tell you, it seems to be a dying art, the mark ups. Folks aren't doing them as much any more. I would suggest for your work flow that you insist. Because not only is it to help you identify what you need to do, you are then telling your client what you're gonna do, and it makes it so that at the ninth hour you're not doing an ad and there's all this white type, but you've got a blue sunny sky with clouds, going, oh, we need to find another sky. Remember the story I told you before? So, communication, managing expectations, retouching and time delivery expectations as well, okay? Really important, and spotting. Okay, this is kind of an interesting thing. I don't know if any of you experience this, but often when I jump in a job, start a job, man, I jump in the job, I'm stripping stuff out, I'm masking, I'm putting things in, and I forget to do the most basic thing, which is to spot the image. Happens all the time, so, as a reminder to myself and everyone on the planet Earth who's doing retouching, spot your job. Spot it first, because especially if you're using multiple copies of a file, like we're going to use channel pull and do stuff, you're gonna have spots in everything. Spot first, the other reason why you wanna spot. It takes you through the picture. It makes you look at the picture and what your brain is gonna start doing is going, how am I gonna mask that? Oh, how am I gonna select, okay, oh, I gotta remember to come back, and as you're spotting, your brain is actually calculating what you need to do. And then your job will go faster. So let's hear it for the spot, yay! Alright, so for your bag of tricks, folks who've taken my class now, I'm big on the bag of tricks, and that means, what are you bringing to the job? So, if I'm retouching on set, I make sure I have already set up the comp in a file. I don't do it on set, I have it. I come ready, here I am ready to play, it's ready. Have all possible layouts in the comp. Okay, I know this sounds like rudimentary, but you'd be amazed, people don't do this. So have all that ready, if there's going to be a background alternative, have it ready. Don't wait to do it later, trust me, 'cause you're gonna run out of time. You always run out of time, it's the name of the game. Sample for color references, do you remember at the beginning for the props, I said to get some stock shots of citrus? 'Cause I assure you, what your brain is gonna tell you that that citrus should be is not what the advertising community thinks it should be. Like when I look at the samples of citrus, it is so much brighter and lighter than my brain tells me to do it. And so have it in advance, have it ready, it's in your suitcase, you bring it, you set it on the table, and you're ready to go. Cool, all right, I'm not gonna spend a ton of time on this section, but I, this is critical. I believe, to be a decent retoucher, there are probably five things you need, four or five things you need to master. You need to know how to mask, you need to know how to change color, you need to know how to manage layers, whatever that means for your job, you have got to know how to manage your files. And what I mean by manage your files, I mean what color space are you in, what bit depth are you in, what color space, sRGB, Adobe RGB, I wanna make sure I say that, bit depth and file size, what's your DPI, what's your output, you gotta know that. You have to have that at the beginning, and then the other thing when I say file management, I mean your files. Your comp, where's your comp, where are your assets? How are you delivering this, how are your stock photos? Are there fonts involved? Fonts are type so I start twitching. Notes for clients, so I would suggest, then, we cover this in a business of retouching class. Make sure you have all this set up before you have a job. I know many people have droplets on their computer that they click a button and it populates a folder. Doesn't populate a folder really, but it opens a folder and puts all these empty folders in it already named. You start a job, click the droplet. I'm not a droplet writer, but if you guys, I'm sure if you do some searching, you'll find someone who can do that for you or who has already done it. Cool, you guys are gonna have all these handouts with the bonus material that will have this listed. In addition to the folder naming, so we've got comps, we have assets, assets are anything extra. It's the photography, it's those darn XMP, the Sidecar DNG, any kind of stock you might wanna use, and WIPs. Now this is very important, I have WIPs, which are work in progress, and they're layered files, and the WIPS correlate to the versions, which are the files that are being delivered. Why do I have files that are being delivered? Because I'm doing a retouching job. One thing is gonna be an Instagram, flat, certain size, square, more than likely, Facebook, banners, billboards, magazines, but they're all built off a master. Well, I don't keep six master files, can you imagine? Remember that four gig, seventy-gig thing I was talking to you about, can you imagine if I had to have each one for every output? Too much storage space, too much time. So I have one master file and I build out my versions from that. You're gonna have a naming convention, so don't freak out if you don't quite understand what I'm saying about naming, I will be giving it to you. But I'm just going to talk to it briefly. I have a very specific naming convention I follow and when I said the WIPs correlate to the versions, when I do a work in progress, that WIP1A, when it's being delivered, it's gonna be a V1A. And then I could get hit by a bus. Not that I wanna be hit by a bus, but I could get hit by a bus and anybody who works for me, if they need to go back and the client comes back and says, "Oh, we want a change," they'll know V1A correlates to a W, W1A, anybody can find my files. So if I make changes, I merge things, I delete things, that becomes a new number. New letter, 'scuse me, so WIP1A, WIP1B, WIP1C, are all changes I've done here in my little cubbyhole. I'm merging stuff, you don't need to save everything. Flatten it, merge it, get rid of some space. That becomes a version, versions have gone out to my mother, to the client, to Facebook, to Instagram. The minute a version is made, that file stops. I don't ever touch that file again, and I start a new one from that file, and it is number two, 2A, W2A. And then I work, client has revisions, I work. Anytime a file goes out, it stops. And it gets a new number and I continue from that point. Why is that, this is billing, first of all, because you charge for revisions, ladies and gentlemen, very important for billing. Two, how many of y'all have had a client who comes back two weeks later, "Aw, that first one you did was right. Can we go backwards?" Can you imagine what you'd have done if you'd saved over that file? Oh, and then you're looking at the flat one and you're trying to remember which layer you had turned off, it's a nightmare. So this has worked for me for well over 25 years. There's a bunch of entertainment ad agencies who've adopted it, you will have that, I apologize, click that too, click. But you will have a handout in the bonus materials that will explain this and give you an idea of what to use. This, again, just illustrates that any of the WIPs produce your rounds. I don't put my folders in round one, round two. I don't need to, a lot of people, a lot of people I work with like to put them in rounds. Whatever you want, I only say that because I will tell you, most shops I go to, they put them in rounds, so clearly I'm a little on the outside when I don't need a round, because I know a number is a round. I know a two is round two, 'cause it's a two. But since everyone does it, I thought I'd show it to you. You might like it, and then versions. Now this is a really interesting thing. Christina and I talked about this. When you're retouching, ladies and gentlemen, for a photographer, or you are retouching as a photographer, chances are you don't delve into this. You're probably delivering a single file, single flat file, more than likely it's gonna be an Adobe RGB file, and you're not gonna be dealing with all this. But I'm a retoucher, so do you remember, I told you at the beginning, I'm hired by a design agency, ad agency, or I'm hired by a photographer. So this is more for a design agency. And then I am responsible for this. Okay, so for photographers, chances are you're not being dealt with, dealing with this. However, can I make a pitch for money here? Not that I want you to get, well yeah, you can give me money, but for you to make money, do you want to know where all the money is in entertainment print production? It's all right there, it's all in the versions, the different layouts, so a company that is, I'm really giving the dirt here, oh my goodness, I'm gonna get in trouble, all right. So, when you get a, for example, a movie poster, which is advertised, you get a movie poster done, that's a particular cost. All those breakouts, that's where the money is. There's the key art, oh, we need a horizontal. Oh, we need social media buys. Oh, we need a two sheet, oh, we need a bus shelter. Oh, we're gonna put it on a park bench. We're gonna put it on a cup, we're gonna put it on the trash can here, that's where the money is. Just little current decisions for y'all to think about. Alright, so, now I'm gonna show you some slides but then I wanna get to work, but I kind of think it's helpful if I show you what I'm doing, what I'm gonna do before I do it. Alright, so let's talk about this for a second. Layer management, so this is a very typical file and you're gonna see what I've got going on here. I tend to, contrary to many people who retouch, I retouch on a larger file than I need. So if you look at this, what we have here, I know it looks like a lot of layers, but it's all gonna become clear to you soon. I have a layout with a frame, so there's the layout that they have provided. There's a horizontal one in here, and a vertical. Those are the two-bys we're dealing with today. I have the comp in there as well. This is my retouching, don't freak out by this, and I'm gonna show you this later about the background. But all I really need is this and the horizontal. Why do I have all this extra space? I have all this extra space because, for my retouching, I like to be able to move, and if everything's cropped so, Imagine for a second you're doing a gradient, 'cause you wanna darken, and the client comes back two days later and goes, "Can we just have that long horizontal?" Do you remember at the beginning of the class I showed you a tall horizontal and a longer horizontal? That gradient's cut off, ah, you know what I'm talk-- Someone's gotta have gone through the pain for this, or a mask, so if you build bigger, your file size is gonna be larger, but for me, it's a small price to pay to have some speed later on. I hate redoing things, and I hate redoing gradients. 100% hate redoing gradients, cool. Alright, the next thing I wanna talk about is your layer management, this is really important. This is where most folks, I find, in all honesty, go off the rails. And I mean bad off the rails, as a retoucher. So, as a general rule I would suggest you consider building like a pyramid, so you have your background, you have your main shot, you have color corrections, and then you have grain and sharpen underneath. I'm about to be controversial, are you ready? The Internet is gonna scream, no it's not. This is a sticking point for retouchers, sharpening. So many retouchers I know prefer to sharpen right at the beginning, so when we brought that, that, we bring the shot in, the hero, this hero right here, They wanna sharpen it in advance. Sharpen it right at the beginning and do the retouching, 'cause then they know what they're working with. Well, do you remember at the beginning of class we talked about all those different file formats? You're going to GIF, and if you're doing social media, if you oversharpen an 8 x 10 and you reduce it small, you're gonna have, it's gonna look like lines. So I never, ever, ever sharpen at the beginning of the job. I sharpen at the end, and I sharpen per output. Say that again, I sharpen per output. So when I do my versions and I'm, you want, would you like to have an Instagram file, I'd be so happy to give you an Instagram file. I will flatten that file, I will do the sharpening for that file alone, do you understand? I think this is a big key difference, I'd like to stress, I'm a print retoucher, so screen issues, I think screen retouching is pretty easy, and it's print that is really where you get in trouble for sharpness and grain. But, I think we should talk about it. Grain, you don't grain social media images, it makes them bigger, do you guys know that? If you add grain, it will make your file size bigger. You do not grain social media files. The bane of my existence, do you wanna know why? Grain hides all mistakes, grain is like this level of, shh, sweet soft spray over your image, and it makes everything look melded together, and it gives the illusion of sharpness. It makes things look a little sharper. So, unfortunately for social media, you don't get to grain. Hence why it's on the top, cool, y'all getting this? Good, type, type on top, and crop, then guides. Hopefully that's clear and everyone's lovin' it, it's that sharpening beforehand or sharpening after. At the end of the retouching session, I am gonna talk about this but I'd just like to point it out right now. Finishing touches to the file, that would be the grain, that would be the sharpening, so when I'm delivering a file, it's specific to what they're asking for, okay. Quality control, in this class, with the bonus materials, there is a checklist, a delivery checklist that I give you, and part of that is, and I know this is gonna sound silly, spell check your names. If you're delivering layered files, I often deliver layered files, do you know how embarrassing it is when everything's misspelled? On that happy note, I'm gonna tell you I'm certain in the handouts you're gonna get, there are gonna be some spelling errors. I'm not sure if I mentioned, I'm dyslexic as heck. And everyone tries to cover my hiney for me, and look and find them, but you're gonna find some. So I know it's a particular problem of mine, so I have someone else check my files for naming, 'cause it's really embarrassing. Everything kind of colors people's perception. Packaging a file, packaging file assets, what are you giving back? Now on composite jobs what will happen, sometimes your composite is so complicated that you wanna save it out as a separate layered file, and in the main billboard you just have a smart object. That's compressed, but it's not fully layered. 'Cause do you remember I talked to you about that four-gig file that turned into the seventy-gig file? I had asset builds that I delivered also with that. I do it all the time, that's what packaging a file/ assets, file for delivery, how are you, are you sending it? Is it internet, is it a protocol, you've got to worry about that kind of stuff, and I cannot tell you how many times, I'm gonna own this one 100%, if someone gives me a job, and it's due Friday morning, it's on the Dropbox Friday morning. Do you know how many times I don't send an email to say, hey, your job's in the folder? And I get an email, and I'm like, hey, is the file there? I'm like, well, what are you talking about? I told you it'd be there at 9:00 a.m. I presume they know that I know I'm doing my job. No, send an email out, don't do what I do, my friends.

Class Description

Compositing, or combining multiple images to create a single image, is particularly important in commercial photography when getting the perfect shot while remaining under budget is essential. Well-known retoucher Lisa Carney will demonstrate a strategic compositing workflow from concept to shoot planning to prep to post-production. Joining Lisa on set is Christina Peters who will help Lisa demonstrate the relationship and interaction between the retoucher and photographer while shooting a commercial product. Christina is an award-winning food photographer and owner of the Food Photography Club, an online forum for all things food photography.

Lisa will cover time- and cost-saving tips for shooting a campaign, including heading off costly pitfalls and planning for the unexpected. Perfect for both photographers and retouchers, this class will help you elevate your workflow and increase your profit margin.


SOFTWARE USED:

Adobe Photoshop CC 2018

Reviews

Anne Dougherty
 

I love Lisa Carney’s classes! She is casual yet precise, and she thinks like I do! The workflow logic of her process is brilliant. Really brilliant. I started working in PS version 1.something, as the publisher I worked for was just computerizing their department, and I was a total novice. But right from our first day working digitally, we had to create images and files that our novice printers could successfully print from. Lisa’s logic/approach is so familiar! Making things work on a deadline is an incredible way to learn time-saving techniques, and I wish I’d had Lisa crunching solutions with me. I am new to the newest PSCC, but all off her process made sense to me. She moves fast, so it might be a little tough for a total beginner, but she stops and explains things very clearly once she’s gone through it a time or two on a file, so, hopefully everyone can get things solidified for themselves. Now that I am retired and doing my photo work just for myself, her compositing techniques are helping me get to my end results much more quickly. I wish I had a Lisa sitting alongside me, with a glass of wine, while I’m experimenting with my creative composited work. Thank you so much for having her as a CreativeLive instructor/mentor.

user-af7c94
 

I took advantage of Photoshop Week and caught this class live - and loved it! I own other CreativeLive food photography courses, but I really liked the way Lisa and Christina taught the image shoot segment in this one. They show us a little glimpse of how the retoucher and photographer work together, in real time, on the set and I like that. Lisa and Christina are also very giving with their knowledge of how things work behind the scenes as well. Though, the main reason I bought this course was for the info Lisa shared about file naming and file version organization. There are a lot of video's on how to perform functions in Photoshop, but almost none about correctly naming, and organizing your versions. Now, I've got a real base to start from. Thanks :)

Jeph DeLorme
 

Great class if you do commercial work, love the amount of detail! Lisa Carney is one of the best instructors I have watched on CL!