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Spotting & Cloning

Lesson 4 from: Advanced Portrait Retouching

Lisa Carney

Spotting & Cloning

Lesson 4 from: Advanced Portrait Retouching

Lisa Carney

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Lesson Info

4. Spotting & Cloning

Lesson Info

Spotting & Cloning

So, spotting, spotting, spotting. Spotting, cloning, I think I'm kinda old school girl, and this is why I call it spotting. I'm not sure people call it that anymore, but in the old days for a dark room, you literally spotted. You took a Exacto blade and you cut off stuff on the print or you dotted negatives. So, I still call it spotting. I generally retouch with the Clone tool, and the Heal tool almost exclusively. And tool wise, I really have to say. I pretty much use the Airbrush, the Clone tool, I think people still, they don't call it the Rubber Stamp anymore. It was called the Rubber Stamp for a minute and a half, and an Airbrush and a Heal tool and that's pretty much it. Now, when I'm talking about the tools, and on the handouts that you get with the class, these tools are really explained explicitly, like what each little button does. I wanna confess something to you. I barely know all of the settings, I don't use them. I use them pretty much out of the hatch. I think this is on...

e of the most beautiful things about Photoshop is there are so many, so many lovely things you can do in Photoshop. Oh my gosh, you could change your Source. You can change the Replace, Multiply, Color, Luminous pattern, hey, oh Current Layer, Below, all these sweet Jesus, Mary mother of God, there's just too much for my brain, for most people's brains. It's one of the reasons this is a great program, 'cause you could do so much, but it's one of the reasons this program, ugh, is a little daunting, 'cause you can do so much. My suggestion for right now, is we're just gonna talk about the simple simple tools, and then we'll explore it a bit later, some other complicated ones. So, spotting, so let's, some of the spotting and I'm gonna show some edges here and some bad work on purpose, don't be alarmed. So spotting, when you start to spot and you start to clone, in this process I know that I'm gonna be doing some skin blurring over the top, so this can be very, very forgiving. So, I often I'm a little lazy and it's a workflow thing, where I go through and I'm spotting, and I'm doing my healing and I get a little smudge, and I may choose, do you see how there's this discoloring here? I may choose to just let that go, because I know what's coming next, and it's not gonna show. That is the luxury of someone who's been doing this for a really long time. Y'all may not have that luxury, so I'm saying that because I know you are looking at this file, and you're making some decisions, and I want you to know when or when not to be sloppy, and it's your choice. Okay, it is 100 percent your choice I'm gonna to turn the spotting layer off for a second Those kind of scars by the way, for women, almost always are taken out. You gotta be careful with scars, and you gotta be careful with birthmarks. Cindy Crawford, dear god, don't take one of those birthmarks off her face, or you are in trouble, and she's got a bunch. She's not just the one, you gotta be careful. What else do I wanna tell you about spotting? Sloppy, sloppy is not as good. Tight is better, tight takes more time, you choose. In addition, oh let's talk about the file construction here for just a minute. Do you remember I said I leave it open? Absolutely open all the way? What that means by open, is you can go all the way back to the RAW, so because of that I can't spot on this. I cannot spot on this, so I need to make a new layer, and I usually call it retouching or spotting, or the filename, retouched with the filename. It's what, y'all choose. And then what I do, is I do a Command + J, or Control + J if you're on a PC. Shift + click between the two, and then Command + E to merge, and I start retouching on that layer. On many of these functions, and you might see me stuttering just a hair, it's 'cause I have actions to do it or quick keys because I do it so much. It's like oh, F1, F that, but I'd like you guys to see it. But spotting again, you go through, the other thing about spotting which is really awesome, is this is where you wanna go into your happy place. You put your music on, you have your coffee, and you look at the file and you decide. Oh what else, you know what? I'm thinking about the skin blurring coming up. I'm in my mind while I'm doing this going oh crap. I'm gonna have to do heavy, or I'm gonna have to do light, or oh this isn't gonna take a lot, or oh this is gonna take a long time, And, you guys see what I'm doing? I am holding the Option key and clicking, and picking a source. I'm using the basic Heal tool. Keep in mind the Heal tool is great where there's no contrast, no contrast in tone or color, because otherwise it'll smear and I'll show that in a minute. And, the Clone tool is what you'd switch to, but do you see, I keep moving? Do you notice I'm actually not spending a half an hour in one spot and staying right here, and doing all this retouching in one spot. What I'm doing is circling around the image. I think this is really, really important for a couple reasons. One, a little sloppy, I don't care, 'cause I know what's coming. Why this is important is I find, and let me use my visual aids here for just a minute to avoid the dreaded ham hock. When you spot in one section and do everything what happens is you actually lose the form of the face. It's very comment and happens all the time. So, let's talk about the skin, slide, click and slide, and I'm not getting everything. Now, some folks might think this is a waste of time, but I will tell you it makes for better retouching without fail. And then I zoom out and I slide over, and I go like this. What this can do however, is cause you to miss some spots. This can cause you to miss some spots. Some folks in order to not miss a spot, this is absolutely not the way my brain works, but I'm just gonna go ahead and and let you know, some folks will do a grid. And, they'll actually draw the whole grid out. This is not a bad way to do it. My brain just doesn't work this linearly, and they'll do this. They'll make the grid the exact width of their viewing screen. And then they'll do this. And then zoom in, finish up an area. I have faster ways of doing hair. I'll show you that in a bit. And, do this. And, you can't see, so you have to move in. Oh crap am I taking those in or out? Oh, I don't know, look at your markup page. you're gonna forget, I swear. It's this weird thing it's like, I think it's like when you're in the car driving, and you see a deer and you drive right to it. I think this is the weirdest analogy ever, I know, but I think this is kinda what happens. So, what do I want you to take away from this conversation of spotting? In and out, in and out around, around, and a grid, a grid is definitely not a bad idea, especially when you're starting. And, this image in particular, so you would do the retouching on the image, and not mess with the background. You're not cutting her out for compositing at this stage? I love you, these are such good questions. Alright, so mask first, mask later? Cut, retouch first, retouch later? These are all really good questions. This is part of the initial question. Is she getting masked out? I don't know. I don't know, I haven't decided. She is, she is getting masked out. So I do not touch the background 'til the end, except for really egregious marks, because I don't wanna waste my time. And if they're not, if they're masking it out, what you can sometimes do, you know, I work with other people a lot, and I have to pass files along. If they're masking it out and I'm just doing the retouching, I always do my retouching first, mask second, almost exclusively. That's my way. Other people do it the exact opposite. What I will do is I will write on the background, no clean or no background, so that someone doesn't look at and say, oh you idiot, you forgot to clean the background. I talk about it in my class as often as I can. It's really healthy to have the file speak to itself to whomever in itself. What I mean by that is write a note on the file. Don't rely on an email that's gonna follow the file, or even necessarily notes on a print. Put the notes in the file when you can, because you never know if they're gonna meet with the same person. How many of y'all work with other people? Okay, so a couple of you, most you are individual? Yeah. It's such a different workflow when you work by yourself. It really is. Retouching and masking, I always mask last. I don't know, I have no good reason for it. Question. Yes. When, and this is back to the markup, when you initiate with a new client, does the markup come after you have a, you know, a real conversation with the client to find out what they want? Are they sending you an example? Because I would suspect you're more critical of the image or what you can do to the image, so you maybe over markup so you don't-- Right. Get the ham hock handyman thing? Right, right. These are really good questions. Alright, so for me, with markups, how it always ends up working is I have to estimate the job first, period, paragraph. Quick, hurry, no markup, estimate the job. I estimate the job, then I get the job, and when I get the job, that's when I say, can I have a sample? And I'll mark it up. Now ideally, I should do that beforehand, absolutely. No, and no. My world, not gonna happen. No one's gonna give me that because they're sending out estimates to however many people and they don't have time. Plus there's a little bit of that caveat, like I don't wanna be a pain in the ass before the job is given to me. Once they give me the job, I don't mind being a little like, hey, hey, and the other thing is I actually, I think it, in a way, it shows thoroughness when you mark it up and send it. Like, hey, just wanna make sure we're on the page. I just wanna make sure I get you exactly what you need. Can you show me what you like? And make it seem like it's not an inconvenience for them. Did you have another question? Yes, I did. I was just wondering, you were talking about files with your clients and obviously that those would have to be digital. Yes. So, you have a folder perhaps for each client? Yeah. And then would you, what source are you using to make those notes for your client, you know, when you have your discussions with them? Are you using Word, are you using some note system? Oh Lord, no. My goodness. What are you using? I don't know. Yes, that is a great question as well. I'm so new at this. Word, ah, words, they scare me. I have to tell you, I am, I'm sure there's some word for this, someone who can only use Photoshop but who can't type. In fact, I should take that moment. There will be some typos coming up because I'm, I'm, I'm word phobic, I can't type. I'm dyslexic like many artists. So how I communicate is I send PDF files. They generally are markups and I personally like to write the words on the file where the line is. I will often type it but I put it in Photoshop. Now, I have a photographer I do a ton of work for. I love him, he's got a Review Studio that's got a picture. It's got, it's called Review Studio. It's a webpage kind of thing, and everybody can markup, and from different locations. I hate it, they love it, I gotta deal with it. And what they do is they markup on the file and then they type in notes. So they'll mark, they'll put a dot, it'll say number one, and they'll make a gesture drawing, and then over there in the type, whoever wrote it, their name will be there, and what they want done. That's way over here. The dot is there. The number to indicate what the dot is often covers up what the dot is, and I have to take a screen capture of that and put it on my file and then size it and then go, okay what, which dot are they talking about? Makes me nutsy cuckoo bananas. I understand completely why they use it because they've got people in different offices and different locations and they need to communicate and they're not Photoshop people. What I prefer to do is literally mark up the file and not, if I'm gonna say, oh let's, in fact, let's talk about this. And I'm gonna make a markup layer here. I would say out and I'll send that. I won't circle that, put a number, and then have a Word document that says out. However, if I know that I'm working with those kind of folks who aren't Photoshop users, I might actually put a number one here, and then type up an email next to it and refer to it. I don't like doing that, but I will do that on occasion. Does that help? Yes. Yeah? Just send them-- Absolutely. So you would just send image them a JPEG? A JPEG or a Photoshop PDF, absolutely. Yeah, and that's a really good question. Yeah, the marking up, I gotta tell you, and I don't know why it seems to have fallen out of favor. People don't do it anymore. They don't do the markup and I'm like, oh my god, it's so important. So the other thing I wanted to note is I've been using the Heal tool. For most of it, I gotta tell you, I use the Heal tool for almost everything except, let me see if I can find a place where it's gonna cause me some trouble, except where there's color differential. Oh no, that kinda works okay, too. When you have contrasting color, you get smudging. Actually, Chelsea's a really good image for the Heal tool working for pretty much everything, but when you have a dark over a light, you can't use the Heal tool. You have to use the Clone tool. And I'm gonna show you another file in just a minute. When you're spotting or when you're healing, please don't be afraid to use different opacities. And you know what else? Here's another really good tip, I think, is don't be afraid to go back to the original. So have you guys run into this? Where you, you're working, let me show you a quick way to do it. So let's you're talking to someone, the music is a little aggressive and something's happening, and you're spotting and you come back, and you're like, oh my lord, what was that? Don't panic, it's no big deal. You just grab your Selection tool, like a Marquee tool, and because you're good, good retouchers, you have all the way down to the original on the bottom, You do a Command + J or Control + J on the bottom. Copy that area you made a hash of. Put it on top. Hold the option key and put a black mask on it. Get a nice big Air brush and paint it back in. And, maybe you don't even paint it back in at 100 percent. Maybe you put that layer on like 50 percent opacity. Maybe just want to step on it a little. Whatever it is you wanna do, you're flexible, but on the same note I'm gonna ask you as good retouchers and not people who have 1500 layers in your file, make a commitment, hold the shift key, select the two layers, Command + E it and move on. What am I talking about? I'm talking about not having 7,000 layers in your Photoshop file. Makes me crazy! Folks will have way too many layers and they're lost. They're not labeling them, and trying to navigate that is a nightmare. Please keep compressing. Here's why this is safe. You can always go back down, right? You're cool, it's all good. Blank layer or non blank layer, that is the next question. I am old school girl. I can't call myself a girl, I'm an old lady. I'm an old school old lady, I like to retouch on a flat layer. I do not like to retouch on a blank layer. Why? I don't know, I think I'm old school and I just don't like it. I have my reasons I think that are good. One, the Heal tool which I like to use a lot, you can have it set for Current and Below, but I often get this haloing. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to reproduce it, 'cause it reproduces at different times. It's kind of this like watermark haloing you get with the Heal tool when you do it on a blank layer. Doesn't always happen, but it does happen often and I don't like it, and I like the way it diffuses when it's on a flat layer. Do it anyway you want. There's many, many, many people in my industry who retouch on a blank layer. Retouch on a blank layer, right? And, it does fine for them. The only thing is be really careful of when you're considering that is make sure you've got your tool set on either Current Layer or Current Below, depending on what you're doing. Please do not ever have it on All Layers, ever. Why do I say that? I say that because often times with retouching, you guys are gonna have to work in this noncircular method, or nonlinear method. And, what I mean by that is, you've done your spotting, you done your skin blurring, you've done your color correction, you've sent the file to the client, and they've come back and they made revisions in an area that you have to go all the way back down to the spotting layer, and you don't wanna have color corrections that are applied to that. Do understand what I'm saying? So, all color corrections on the top. You want the raw base color on the bottom. I appreciate you guys hanging in to this foundation section. I know it's a little much at the beginning and is so worth it. It's like anything, it's mise en plas. It's getting all your stuff, your ducks in a row, setting up your file, making sure everything works well at the beginning, and then full steam ahead. It'll pay off. Alright again, same spotting idea. Now, I wanna talk about this kind of spotting, hair spotting, crosshairs, and I'd like to point out when things are questionable for some folks. Some folks like to remove their hair at the end. I like to do it at the beginning. I know it's a little weird, but this is my method. I just wanna be clear about when my method crosses other people methods. Why, 'cause I like doing this in a spotting manner. I like to do my spotting and my clean up, and then my skin blurring. And so hair is like this, like I know I'm gonna clean up the eyebrows, and I know these crosshairs really wanna come out. If it really, I'm just holding the option key and clicking. You'll see like 90 percent is done with the Heal tool, absolutely 90 percent. If for some reason somebody comes back later and they really are attached to some crosshairs, you can put them back in. It's not the easiest thing in the world, but you can. Now, this is the area where the smudging is gonna start to become a problem potentially, so I may wanna switch to my Clone tool. The only thing about the Clone tool, it's a little more difficult. You have to be a little more precise about where you're clicking. And, I'm not sure if you can see this, the discoloration I'm getting, or the it's a little light. I might switch real quickly back to the Heal tool, and do some seaming. Yes? Can you tell me, how are you feathering, that tool? Ah, these are really good questions. I love doing these live classes, these are great. I use a soft brush. Do you see my Heal tool? It's soft. See the hardness? I do, I never heal with the hard brush. Ah, I wonder if that's blasphemy to say? I know a lot of people who heal with a hard brush. I don't like it, that's when I get the haloing, hardness. This is such a personal thing. It's kind of like do you like to drive with your seat back a little and the rearview mirror tilted, or do you wanna be up on the wheel? This is that kind of thing. So, you're gonna have to find your happy spot, or your groove. You can absolutely, absolutely heal with a hard brush, but occasionally you will get a watermark. I'll call it a watermark, that kind of fringing. Now, I haven't even talked about some of the other functions. I've got a few more things to cover. I'm gonna keep going all in the spirit of spotting if you will. I love for crosshairs, I absolutely love Content-Aware Fill. There is a Content-Aware tool here in the Heal tool. I don't wanna cover it right now. I might get to it if I can later, and this Replace thing, but for now I'd like to focus primarily on the Content-Aware Fill. So, what I'm gonna do is make a selection, and I'm gonna hit Shift + Delete, and I'm gonna do Content-Aware. And, this is awesome for crosshairs. And, I'm gonna check real quick I have my action set up. F1, alright, I actually have an action set up for this. I have a brand new computer and I can't see my F1 key. I think that's it, nope that's not it. Nevermind, I don't have ... A brand new computer, I don't know where the F1 key is. Anyway, I do have it set up as a quick key, and without the quick key, I just have to hit Shift + Delete a lot, so I'm sure you can imagine right now, how a quick key would save my cookies, and make me really happy, but in the meantime I'm just gonna do it this way. I swear this is my favorite thing with the F key. I just circle, F1. I've made an action, you can make it F15. You can make it whatever F key you want. You have to set it up yourself. The action that you're gonna set up is Content-Aware Fill, and it can work on face, on skin. I accidentally changed that, when I hit the 2, to see if I could get the F key, it made my layer 20 percent, sorry. So, I don't wanna miss, this point to get missed. So, I'm primarily using this Content-Aware Fill for crosshairs, it works a treat, but I can also use it on skin. You just gotta be a little careful that you don't get too blotchy. I use this mostly on crosshairs, but it can absolutely work on skin. And, I mean it's worth its weight in gold for crosshairs. Yeah, question? What does ... You have the check box for Color Adaptation on that. What is that? I've never known. I cannot tell you but I can tell you that you have to have it clicked. This is really important. Thank you for asking that question. I'm sorry I don't know the technical reason for having that, and I think I have it in the notes. You absolutely need to have that, please. Absolutely have this put. This is in the notes, and this illustrates another issue about Photoshop. When y'all at home are working on some of these things, sometimes you're gonna be doing a function and it's not working. You may have to set the pen down and go and look at every single dot, meaning every tool setting to see if something is different. I'm gonna be honest, this is one of those things that can overwhelm me about Photoshop, and this is one of the stopping points for me when I'm trying to learn a new trick. So let's say I've been doing this for 100 years like I have, and Photoshop comes out with a new tool like the Heal tool, and then the Heal tool, when you work, do it over an area of contrast, like hair and skin, it doesn't work. What happened to me for the Heal tool, I started using it, I thought, oh I'm gonna go out of business. People are gonna be able to retouch, so it's a pain in the butt figure out how to make it work in this area. I just let it go and stopped using it. The Content-Aware when I first used it, it didn't work 'cause I didn't have that darn box checked. So I didn't use it for about six months and then I was looking at another retoucher, and I'm like, well, why does that work for you? And he said, well idiot, click the Color Adaptation. I was like, oh thank you Marty for that. I love Marty, he told me that. He didn't call me an idiot, but I felt like an idiot. I am telling you that so that when you're at home working that you don't feel like an idiot. This is the way it is. There's a million things to check and look and when you're looking at tutorials, when you're watching CreativeLive, when you're looking at my handouts, really look at all those boxes, because unfortunately, folks like me, when you've been doing this so long, will forget to tell you that one little button, because there's so many buttons. Does that makes sense? Thank you for asking that question. Anyway, the Crosshair thing, I have to tell you before, crosshairs used to be a nightmare for me, 'cause it was really about cloning or healing, cloning or healing, cloning or healing, but with the Content-Aware Fill, it has gotten so nice. However, I will tell you that occasionally when you draw the the selection, it won't look exactly right. Just undo it or redraw a smaller selection and then fill it. Cool? And it can make crosshairs actually not that bad. I would say my billing on this probably would go down at least by 50 percent, my billing time for crosshairs. Crosshairs are a nightmare. They're an absolute nightmare, but now, not so much. However, I'm doing it on the spotting layer. Dun, dun, dun! 'Cause usually hair is done later. So it's it's a little out of order. Cool? Yes ma'am. Speaking of the spotting layer, Klauss had asked, would you ever use a Solar Curve, early in the process like this, to make sure that you notice stuff like sensor dust? And, that was something that you taught us in your other class here. I love these questions. Absolutely, alright, what in heaven's name is a Solar Curve? Solar Curve is the savior of all humans who are retouchers. The Solar Curve will save your cookies in more ways than one, I assure you. What a Solar Curve does, is it makes a solarization out of your image. And how you do it if you add an adjustment. In fact, let me repeat that. You go to your Adjustment Layer, go to the Curves, if you're really proper you'll name it. If you do it all the time you'll have a F key for this. F key people out there, you wanna make an F key for this I assure you. And what you do is, you do this zig zag, and what it basically does is flip flops all the colors, and allows you to see those areas that are really hard to see like super highlights. See in the shadow areas? Where are you, my little friend? You can't hide from me, you can try. Do you see that one little dot? It wants to hide. Come on. Alright, screw it, we're gonna go with this, alright. So, you can do Solar Curves, so you can check out files. I just put it an invert on it real quick to darken it. And, you could see lines. You could do it this way, to see brights. This is your standard Solar Curve, which is a straight-up zig zag. Do you see it? Straight up zig zag, and look it just makes everything psychedelic, but what you can see is you can see banding. Do you see these spots here? That's an excellent question. I don't remember who asked that, but thank you. Do you see how hard that is to see? Look at it now, see that there? It'll also show you cut lines, which are really deadly. So yes, you can absolutely spot. I know a lot of folks who spot their background with the Solar Curve on, a lot of folks who do that. What does that mean? That means while you're cleaning up your file, you have your Solar Curve on. Let's do the Content-Aware Fill, let's see if it works. I wanna take this moment to once again, I think I said this in the other class, and I'd like to say it often in this class, I would like to encourage you folks, folks of you who have already, you know most of you have spotted, or healed, or done this before. Try a new tool out. Take something you al-, like I don't usually use the Content-Aware Fill on the background. I just do a big Heal brush 'cause it's fast, but I'm trying to integrate this tool into my workflow. So, start using it where you wouldn't normally use it, just to get in the habit of it and to see what it can be done. I understand that can be incredibly difficult when you're on a job and you have to get it out quickly. In addition I wanna say that obviously the Solar Curve is not gonna help for spotting on a face, 'cause you can't see anything. Right, not helpful, but definitely helpful for hairs, to see hairs that are on the outside, and for background and sensor dust.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Brunette RAW Practice Image
Blonde RAW Practice Image
Portrait Retouching Workbook
Lisa Carney PSD Practice Image
Layered Hair Color Change Example PSD File

Bonus Materials

Outline Cards

Ratings and Reviews


If you were like me and had no idea on where to start and feared that the editing process would be too destructive and would have to start all over again if the client didn't like your completed work - then this is the class for you. I watch this class often for review and to make sure that I maintain these good habits Lisa suggests to do. If you follow all of her helpful commentary on her how's and why's you will end up in a far better place when that time comes that you have to re-edit your edit. I cannot say enough great things about her work flow and how it not only enhanced my images to the result I was looking for but also decreased my editing time(bonus!!!!). I also on a whim sent her a email through her personal site and she replied with a massive helpful technique for enhancing freckles on a job I was working on. She is amazing! She is a true teacher who is there to show you how to use photoshop for you to find and gain your own editing style. Far too often i find myself in retouching classes that only demonstrate how to make your images look like who is teaching the class... Workflow and Style are very different, you can have the same workflow but your style is determined by your taste. Her workflow is solid and delivers time and time again. This class should be in everyone's dashboard hands down.

Kristine Pye

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question and take us through your "delivery" process, I found that extremely helpful. I have purchased two of Lisa's classes immediately after the live stream during Photoshop Week 2017 and was very excited to stream another set of lectures from Seattle. I will be purchasing the last two courses of Lisa's within the next 24 hours as I did just over a month ago. I find her classes to be absolutely brimming over with useful information--everything from the technique, her process, what other professionals in her work are doing, and **why** she chooses the methods she does in retouching. She is relatable and genuine, and her knowledge of the program and how to maximize efficiency while "skipping the actions" really reinforces the educational part of her courses. There are "easy way outs", but she emphasizes that you should understand the ways in which any adjustment effect the entire photo. These courses have helped me to move forward in my education, helping me to realize that with enough practice and good habit formation--such as naming every single layer every time-- that it is not irrational for me to make an effort in building a portfolio and a Master's degree with little-to-no- previous experience with the software. I am very appreciate. I hope to see more from Lisa in the future, but I have plenty to practice with for now! Thanks again, Kristine Pye

Jeff Robinson

Lisa Carney is amazing! She has a depth of knowledge of Photoshop, retouching techniques, and compositing that she shares in a fast, but straightforward, easy to follow, step by step manner. No matter what your level of expertise, you'll find gems, shortcuts, and methods in her teaching that you can practice and put to use to make your work stronger, faster, and cleaner. And with the bonus materials she graciously provides, including workbooks with her detailed steps, practice files of the images she uses in class, and before and after comparisons, you'll be on your way to improving your skills immediately. She's an accomplished retoucher and gifted teacher. If you have the opportunity to take one of her classes, take advantage of it!

Student Work