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Retouch Skin in Photoshop to Optimize the Print

Lesson 19 from: From Capture to Print

Rocco Ancora

Retouch Skin in Photoshop to Optimize the Print

Lesson 19 from: From Capture to Print

Rocco Ancora

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Lesson Info

19. Retouch Skin in Photoshop to Optimize the Print


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Advantages & Pitfalls of Printing


Demystifying Color Management


Understanding Bit Depth


Best Color Space to Work In


Importance of Image Capture


Live Shoot: Natural Light


Live Shoot: Studio Lights


Lesson Info

Retouch Skin in Photoshop to Optimize the Print

Okay, so, as far as adjustments so far, that's pretty much, what we've-- here we go, that's the raw file. Okay, we've adjusted the color using the color peaker, that we showed you in the previous session. Okay, we altered the exposure just a touch. We brought our highlights down, a little bit. Okay, opened up our shadows, a little bit more. Okay, I'm kind of happy with the overall contrast, because I'm gonna do a fair amount of work in this, in Photoshop. Now, that 105 Nikon lens is pretty sharp. So, I'm gonna do a bit of work on this in Photoshop, so I don't wanna do too much here. With sharpening, I'm gonna leave the sharpening at the default setting. Now, we're gonna deal with sharpening a little bit later in this course, and it will have it's own special section. We're gonna talk about the three levels of sharpening, at the camera raw stage, during the actual editing stage, and of course at the printing stage, but sharpening is a whole category on it's own. So, once I'm happy with ...

that, I can just right-click on this, and we're gonna edit in Adobe Photoshop. Here we go. And the adjustments have been made here, and we're working an Adobe RGB 1998, here it is, and this is our file. Okay, so where's the road to success, what do we begin with? We begin with always, by duplicating that background layer, the last thing we want to do is work destructively and apply changes to that layout, especially with climbing tool, and all that sort of stuff, because once you've made those changes, you just can't go back, okay? So we always duplicate that background layer, and I'm gonna just get my spot healing tool, and I'm going to set it to content-aware, and I have the here set to sample all layers. And I'm, just gonna alter the size of my little dot, and I'm gonna get rid of some of these stray hairs. And this tool, especially in the creative collab, Photoshop works, it's pretty amazing, okay? So, here you go, I just click on to it, and it senses the content, and it senses, you know, the surroundings. And adjusts accordingly, and it gives you nice, beautiful results, so we'll just fix up the hair, slightly here, okay. We'll um, go up top, there. Okay. When you do this, you can take a little bit more care, but you can see how nice and easy it is, and getting rid of fly away hairs is probably the most, yeah, you can just totally lose your love for photography, real quick, and retouching, just by getting rid of fly away hairs, alright? So, let's zoom in a little bit more. Into here, and we'll just... So, notice that if I go within the same direction of the line, it kind of preserves the edge as well, which is good, and here it is, now could you imagine trying this just with the healing tool, and trying to heal very close to that edge. Yeah, that's another way of losing your love for photography real quick. Okay, so there it is. Okay, even areas like this, I can work with, you know, the spot healing tool, it's doing a really, really good job. And before we jump into, stuff like that, I fix later with the frequency separation technique. And what else do we need to do? That's really obvious and really, okay we'll have a look at her. Okay, I'll get rid of some of these spots. That's good. That we'll get rid of later, during frequency separation. So anything like, obvious, and if there was dust there, or anything like that, we would deal with that right from the start. And then what I do is I come down here, okay, with my actions, or all the actions that you all have, as part of the actual course download. Here they are, frequency separation is the one we want. I'm gonna hit the top one, which is for 16 bit. And apply that. Uh, blur the image until texture is no longer visible, we'll continue with that. And we're gonna blur to where texture is no longer visible. And I think for this one, because it's further away, I know earlier, in one of the other lessons, there was a question about, you know, do we retouch the images where the face isn't really filling the frame, and how much do you retouch? Well you still retouch them, but you've got to be very careful that because, now, you're dealing with a smaller part of the sensor, and radiusly, when we'll be doing frequency separation, it's not going to be as great. Because you're filling a smaller area, and you're dealing with less pixels, basically. Okay, so we're gonna just, once again, judge this visually. And this takes a bit of practice to understand how much blur is too much blur. And I think here, I'm good with that. I've got enough, that is good, so once again, hit the alt key, and this is my texture layout, and you can see all that texture that we're going to work with in a minute, and then of course, this is our color and tone. Which is the focus bit, okay, so let's bring that back. Okay, so what we're doing now here, we're gonna repair the skin texture, and I'm gonna show you also, how we get rid of skin shine. With the shine on the skin, there's a couple of different ways to do it. But I'm going to go into the stamp tool, first. Because we are dealing with texture. Okay. Stamp tool, and earlier, in the previous lessons, we worked out that, not to be too soft with the tamp tool on texture, because we're going to smudge the texture, and we don't want that, we wanna maintain the integrity of the texture, so working our brush, and we're gonna bring the hardness down to about 80. And it gets smaller, and we just sample good texture, near by, and we just repair it. Now, avoid doing things like taking texture from here, and putting it over there. You see that? It's just not the texture that would go there. Okay, so skin texture, I know it's kind of, we think it's all the same, but it's not. Because depending on how the light hits it, okay, if the light hits it at a particular level, and here, on the forehead, she was turned, and the light was coming across on this direction, what was happening was that it was accentuating the actual pores, okay? So we're getting contrast in there, okay? No doubt, it would have been the same up here, but because the curvature of the forehead, okay, the light is hitting at a different angle, we don't see it, okay? And then of course, pores are larger around this area, and the nose than they are down here, and across the forehead, and across the side. Okay, so you've just got to make a really important decision as to where you take the texture, and where you paste that texture. Let's keep on repairing this. And um, I find that in doing this, it kind of makes you aware, at the shooting stage, of how hard, or how difficult, you make your work. Sometimes, if you have a subject with very bad skin, and I'm talking really, really bad skin, the last thing you wanna do is side light them. Okay, because you will accentuate everything. You can fix it, if that is the desired way, creatively, that you want to light that particular portrait, but, it's gonna take you a long time to get that texture of the skin looking exactly the way you want it, okay? So we'll just keep on fixing this up, in a minute, we're gonna work on the low light, yeah? And we're gonna use a technique with the mixer brush, that we did in an earlier lesson, but also, using the surface blur to even out all the other bits and pieces of the skin. So, the old key, sampling very close by, just evening that skin texture out. And when you get areas like this, where the skin texture is way too strong, okay? What we do with that, we increase our brush size, okay? We drop our opacity down, to say about 10%. And what we'll do is we'll sample smooth texture from here, and we just gently paint on it, to just soften it, see how it's softening it? Okay, so just a little bit. So it's not gonna be so abrupt. Okay, so get back to our stamp tool, and our opacity set to 100%. And what we'll do is we'll just, fixing that, this is cool. So far so good, we're having fun. You know, this is a good time to put on some classical music, and get absorbed in the retouching. Yeah, actually, I love retouching, it's a very zen mode for me, because you just get caught up in the perfection of getting that vision exactly where you want it, and that's a good thing, but also, all the time you're thinking about when you're printing, how is this gonna be interpreted, what paper am I gonna be using, which is something we're gonna discuss in the next lesson, about choosing paper, and why all paper's aren't the same, and how a lot of papers will accentuate skin texture more than others, et cetera, et cetera. So, lines like this we're just gonna copy the texture across there. There we go. Okay, and then we're gonna fix up the arms a little bit. Just fixing those, anything that's sticking out. That's good. Okay, let's come back a little bit. Looks great. Let's go to our low copy, let's use our technique for smoothing out the skin so lasso tool. Okay, and it's already feathered to ten pixels, filter, blur, we're going to surface blur. Okay, there it is. So you don't wanna go too far with this, cause what happens is you actually start altering the color of it. So, around 20's good. And then your threshold of how far that blur kind of spreads. That's pretty good. And here, as well command F, we reapply that, so it's the last filter that we used. Okay, and you can see how the shine's coming down, as well, by doing that. And still looking natural. And just under the eyes, getting rid of that for now. And then we're gonna deal with some dodging and burning under there, as well, to clean it up. That's good. Okay, let's move into this area. And do that area as well. Okay, this area here, around where the nose is, okay, we're gonna do that with the mixer brush, so we're gonna come down here. There's our mixer brush, and the settings for that, I always start off with 25, with the wetness, the load is 25%, the mixer's 25, and the flow's 25, but you can experiment with different settings to achieve different results. So, basically what the mixer brush is gonna do is gonna take color and tone, if you like, in one area, and kind of smudge it, and mix it in with the other. It's pretty much like you just did a painting, and the painting's still wet, and you got a wet brush, and you're just mixing the paint, and you're just marking it together. Okay, so let's zoom in, into this, bringing our brush, make it nice and small, sorry, I get that mixer brush again. There it is, okay, and we're just gonna take light tone into that area. You see how we're getting rid of that, if I turn that on and off, you see that? Starting to look good. And that makes my job easier, now, to come back to fix more texture and problems. Cause if I turn that off, it's very hard to see what the texture's doing in there. But turning that on, I've got a little bit more of an insight of what I need to do, and where I need to sample texture from. Okay, so just blending that through, in through that highlight, as well. I'm gonna blend some darker tone into this brighter area. And same thing here, with the light spilling across there. So I'm gonna just close that. So, turning that on and off, you see how we're just shaping the face, and then we're gonna add our own little highlights and accents. Okay, that's looking good. Let's go back to the texture layer, let's zoom in and we're gonna go alt, click, and we're going to just sample some of that texture from there, okay I'm going to reduce my opacity down, okay, and then we're just going to soften this part down. Sampling near by. Okay, we're gonna soften that affect. So we're running, just a little bit of softening. And blending that transition of the harsh texture to the smooth texture. You're with me, you're good? And just, it's about always working in small increments, once again, yeah? So, reality check, turn you on and off. It's a pretty good reality check. And a lot of the times, like I said, you'll be sitting here, working, working, working, realizing that, she still doesn't look retouched, until we do our little reality check, and that comes in, and you go, yeah, it's starting to happen. It's looking a little bit different on here, but that's okay. Going to raise that a little bit more. The trick into a good retouch, especially with skin, and any good retoucher will tell you, is that, the skin needs to look like it hasn't been actually retouched, so we need to still maintain that texture, we still need to maintain the face. I see a lot of retouching where, basically, they don't look like people. Okay, cause everything is just, woosh, gone. And people in reality don't look like that. You know, if I'm shooting a portrait, and I'm shooting a wedding, my clients expect me to make them look the best version of themselves I possibly can make them look, okay? It's not about creating a false, porcelain kind of appearance, because that's not what it is. And you'll find that good retouching, especially in high-end magazines, when you look at say, Harper's or Vanity Fair, and you look at some of those beautiful shoots in there, the models still look like they haven't been retouched. You know, they've got that nice, beautiful, skin, and that's what a good retouching is all about. So, I'm gonna go back to the low copy here, and I'm just gonna, see the little bump in the nose, that we have there, what we're gonna do with that is just straighten it by just smudging some color in there. It's looking pretty good, okay. I'm just gonna go back into texture, it's always good to work with a variance of zoom, so sometimes you'll be really close, and it's very hard to see what's happening, but as soon as you zoom back, you start to realize, okay, I need to address what's going on up here, okay, so simply go back in, okay, and we're just gonna just copy some texture in there, just to make things, go back into the stamp tool, just to even things out. Some little things that are sneaking out, and you see those areas, there? And the more of this you do, the more you will get familiar with what needs to be done, and where the problematic areas are, whether they are in the texture layer, or whether the problematic areas are going to be in your tone area. Here, we've got a combination of both, so I'm back to my mixer brush, down here, and we're just gonna smooth that out at the top. Okay, so, see that? We're just mixing the color in, okay and I'm pretty happy, now this is her real skin, so there's no point going in there and trying to hide the fact that we've got that nice, beautiful texture. We can minimize it, but you won't wanna get rid of it, and just create a smooth, china doll kind of look. So I'm going to get rid of the bigger divots. In the skin. And here, as a bonus, we have really, really good makeup as well, to work with. So that helps. Cause a lot of the times I find myself not only fixing the texture, but fixing mistakes that the makeup artist has made, because the makeup just isn't even, it just isn't blended, and then, especially with a lot of bridal stuff, cause you don't know what budget the bride might have had for makeup, and then you're working with trying to blend the makeup, as well as trying to make them look the best version of themselves that you can possibly can. So, let's fix that up a little bit more. Okay. Just under the eyes, you see these little bits they need to be addressed, as well. And you'll note that I saw that as I zoomed back, so as you came back out of, you know, you start to see things a little bit differently. Okay, there it is. And zoom out. And what I'm going to do here with the low copy, go back into my mixer brush, and I'm gonna address some of these light spillage across that eye, so let's just blend that through, across there, you see that? Across here, there's a little bit of darkness there, I wanna even that out. And that's pretty good. Okay, let's work this area here, with our lasso tool. And there it is. More cross stamp, and then what we're gonna do, is gonna get our mixer brush, and we'll just blend this area a little bit more. A little bit later in this course, we will be printing this photograph, and this edit, so this is gonna be real, it's a real demonstration. Fingers crossed the printer works. You could also come down with the healing tool, on the lower layer, if you want to. Okay, and you know, just cleaning out areas like that. There's a reasonably good job, and then coming in, of course, and lassoing it, and blending that. Just getting rid of some of the blotchiness. As you can see, it's working a treat. It's really good. Okay, and this is just my way of doing things. There's many different ways of doing this technique, of course, it all depends on how long you wanna spend doing this. Like I said, for my line of work, and my business, as a domestic portrait wedding photographer, this is good, my clients love it. What we're doing is evening that soft layer out again. So we're first doing the skin, and then we're gonna start adjusting tonality, adjusting dark and light areas, but we need to get the skin right, first. Before we get too far down the rabbit hole. That's good, across there. Nice. I think we should deal with the legs, as well. So across here. So that's a nice, feathered selection. And here, kind of um, we're gonna do a different radius here, because this is kind of, it's giving us the appearance that the skin's like that, but it's actually not because it was actually the tool that was in there, that was just causing that. So we're gonna apply just a little bit of a gaussian blur. Nothing too crazy. There we go. You see how that's a little bit more subtle, and it's still giving us the texture. Where as the surface blur-- So surface blur and gaussian blur, it's just understanding when to use it. They both can be used for good and evil, you make the choice. You always choose good. I'll go back into here, we're going to filter, blur, surface blur, just for this particular area, here we go, happy with that. Just to alleviate that shadow we'll be getting with the bone in the wrist. This is good, and we could spend more time, you know, finessing, but this is pretty good. We're pretty happy with where we're going with this. The skin's good, we are going for a nice, organic, natural look, so we're good to go in moving into the next phase of the retouch. So, once I've done that, okay, with my frequency separation, what I'm gonna do is press command, alt, shift, E, on the keyboard, and what that's gonna do, it's gonna summarize, everything I've done downstairs, basically, and summarize it into a layer, remember, I work non-distractedly, okay? And I suggest you do, as well. Because if I want to come back to this, and I need to change things, you know, those layers are there, and they're there to be used, and it's a good thing. Then what we do with this, is I'm going to duplicate that layer, okay, and I'm gonna split this into luminesce and color. So the top layer, we're gonna call the color layer, of course, and this one here is gonna be the luminesce. Okay, turning the color layer off, going to edit, fill, 50% gray, blending mode of color, and there's our gorgeous black and white, actually, it looks like a really nice black and white. And I think that's probably the way I'm starting to feel this image. Vintage, glamour, kind of feel to it. And then the color, I'm going to edit, fill, 50% gray, luminosity, that's good, and there's the color. It's amazing when you start examining though, the color information, in here, I'll just show you. You'll note that color is more present when there's a lot of light, okay? As we transition into the shadow, the color also disappears. Okay, so you got less color, more color in light areas. And that makes sense, because, you know, if we were to turn the lights off in this room, our perception of color is totally different. In fact, at night time, our vision becomes pretty much monochromatic, cause there's no light being reflected. Okay, and this is a true reflection of what that color information's actually doing, you know, the shadow areas, less color, okay, more of a monochromatic feel to the shadows, and then the highlights have got that nice, you know, beautiful color rendition coming across. A bit of trivia for ya.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Rocco's Photoshop Actions
Rocco's Printer Evaluation Files
Color & Luminosity Seperation Action

Ratings and Reviews

Roberto Valenzuela

I honestly consider many courses to be great, but optional. However, this course by Rocco Ancora is a MUST! It helps the photographer complete the circle of being a photographic artist. Our job doesn't end at the edit, it ends with the print. When your clients can hold and enjoy your creative vision physically, that is when the magic of being a photographer happens. I have been so fortunate to travel the world teaching and meeting some of the best photographers in the world. That being said, I can say with confidence that nobody can teach this combination of Photoshop retouching / fine-art printing better than Rocco Ancora. I believe in this class so much, I traveled to Seattle to attend this course to be part of the live studio audience. I have never done that before. But that's how important I consider this material to be. I am so happy I took the time to go and learn from the man himself. Now, I will get this course to watch it, dissect it, study it, and practice it. Very excited to see how the knowledge in this course will propel my career further. --Roberto Valenzuela

a Creativelive Student

I was fortunate enough to attend this class in person and got to experience Rocco's prints in person. The quality is absolutely breathtaking and a game changer, Learning these skills will really help my business in a number of ways. In the past, I have had a difficult time convincing clients to purchase typical lab prints through my studio, as opposed to buying them through Walmart or Costco where the quality was "close enough." Rocco's method that he shared in this class creates three dimensional images of unmatched quality and images that just jump off the page. The knowledge from this course will empower me to help run a sustainable business and thrive as a photographer. You would be foolish to not learn these methods and incorporate them into your business. Highly Recommend!!

April S.

I have invested time into learning Lightroom and Photoshop, my own gear, and my particular photographic style, but the one thing I am really lacking is a solid understanding about preparing an image for print, and the various print options (e.g., paper types). When I saw this course come up on the CL schedule it caught my eye immediately so I RSVP'd for the live broadcast. I was at work when it started and couldn't watch at that time. I do listen in from work sometimes, but after 2 minutes of listening to this course I realized it was one I really needed to watch closely and focus on. So, I stopped the stream after a couple minutes and bought the course. I have never done that before. I always wait and watch as much as I can in the initial broadcast (or rebroadcast) to decide if a course is one that I really should spend for. I knew right away though that Rocco was presenting the very information I was lacking and needed, and I wanted it! In addition, it was clear to me after looking him up online that he's a consummate professional with lots of experience and his delivery style even in just the couple of minutes that I listened reflected that. I already have X-rite ColorMunki Display and Colorchecker, a good monitor, and I have a photo printer (Canon Pixma Pro-100) but I'm lacking that technical understanding of color and know I'm not using my resources to their fullest. I use my Canon Pixma to test-print images before uploading to the print service I use. My method isn't ideal since the service uses different printers and ink, and paper depending on what I choose, but at least I have a much better idea of what my image file will give me in print form. After Rocco's course I believe I will be much better equipped to prepare my images and choose the options best suited to each image. I'll still test print if only because it's fun to see something on paper, but I expect the results I get from the print service to be much better once I really know how to put this knowledge to work for me.

Student Work