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Posing for Curvy Women

Lesson 11 of 11

Retouching Techniques

Lindsay Adler

Posing for Curvy Women

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

11. Retouching Techniques

Lesson Info

Retouching Techniques

Alright, so the first example that I want to show, is the contour example that we were working with. I'm gonna show you on the file, and then I'm gonna use it again later, so, it's going to be coming back. Alright, so we talked about in this photo, that when you zoomed in, her thigh is actually to here. But your brain reads it starting somewhere around here. So it makes her thigh look much more narrow. What we're gonna do, is we're gonna paint with highlight and shadow. I've created actions for this. I have them free. If you search on my blog, Skin 101 Actions. It's there. Otherwise it's actually quite simple to make. So here's what it is. We are going to paint with highlight and shadow. So I'm gonna create two curves layers. If you hate curves, or you're scared of them, it's fine, you could do it in levels. It's the same idea. One is going to be lightning things up. And one is going to be darkening things down. So, I'm gonna grab the little half-moon cookie down here. You do wanna use...

, you have to use, adjustment layers with a layer mask. You can't just go up and do image adjustment. You have to be able to selectively apply this effect. So I'm gonna go in, and I'm gonna go into curves. And I am going to select a preset, just to make it easier. I can just play with my curve, but to keep it easier for you all to remember, the first one we're going to do is going to be lighter. We're gonna paint on our highlights. So I'm going to go to the preset of lighter. And it will lighten everything up. The whole picture gets lighter. Problem is, is I actually don't want the whole picture to get lighter. I want to be able to apply this selectively later. So, as I'm looking at this, if you don't know adjustment layers and layer masks, you have to. Add it to your list. Make that one of the next things you go ahead and learn. This isn't an in depth Photoshop class. I've got a retouching and creative effects class here on CreativeLive. It's a three day, where I cover this, but also this is a pretty simple thing that you can look up in some of the other Photoshop classes they have. So, basically wherever you see white, the effect next to it has been applied. But if I paint black in there, it hides it. So, the shortcut to paint it all black is Command-I. So I wanna hide it. But I'm gonna call this highlights, because it's highlights. And then I'm gonna go down, half-moon cookie, grab curves, do the exact same thing, but a different preset, we're gonna make it darker. So I grab my half-moon cookie, go to the preset. Preset of darker. The whole picture gets darker. But I use Command-I so that it hides the effect. So if I look, and I do a before and after of what I just did, it's nothing. There is no before and after. Because they're both hidden. So here's the part where I selectively paint it in. I'm gonna start with my highlights. And let me call this shadows so you know. Okay. I'm gonna start with my highlights. No I'm not, I changed my mind. I wanna start with shadow, it would be easier. We're gonna start with shadows. What I'm gonna do, is I'm gonna extend them. I'm gonna extend the shadows, so that I'll make her leg look even narrower. So I need to grab a white brush, because wherever I paint white will apply it. Great. And I'm going to extend the shadow upwards. Make sure I got a soft brush. Perfect. Alright, so I'm going to extend the shadow. I'm painting a shadow into existence. Okay. And I can also paint it on the top of the leg, because that will make it look rounder. If you paint the shadow on either side, it looks like it's a rounder object. So I'm gonna paint a shadow on top. And obviously, I would spend more time being a little more careful if I were doing this for real, but we're just gonna do a quick demo. Now, if I want her chest to look fuller, I don't have to liquify it. I can put shadows underneath her bust. If there's more shadows, it means it's stuck out more which means it's larger. So I could trick your brain into thinking it's larger, by painting shadows underneath. So I'm just gonna paint shadows here. Shadows underneath the bust. Now, her arm is slender, and it is not exposed, but I do this all the time. Anytime someone has a squished arm, right? I paint shadows on the outside, and highlights down the center, because it makes it look bigger, but rounder. So it looks like muscle instead of squish. It completely changes it. So let's do shadows on the outside of the arm. Like I said, she doesn't need it, but for demo, shadows on the outside. Great. Did under her bust. I could also do on the sides of the thigh here. And, on the sides of the thigh here. Okay, so let's switch over and do highlights. So now the highlights I do down the center of the leg. And this is going to make it look round, like it's shiny. So anytime you look at the magazines, where you see the celebrities who look like they have the tightest legs ever, this is what it is. They painted highlights. And they usually oil them up a lot, because then it looks shinier. Alright, so now I'm gonna paint highlights on the top of the bust. That'll make it look like it's closer to the light. Highlight down the arm. So if I back up, and do a quick before after. Ready? See how her leg looks narrower and tighter? Her bust looks much fuller. Her arm looks a little tighter. Now of course, I went a little extreme. They're a little bit painted on. I can always blur the mask. You don't actually blur the photo. You blur the mask, so that the transition's a little smoother. Or, I can back off my opacity if I think it's too strong. But, one more time, before after. Makes a huge difference. So, every photo ever, that I have of a curved subject, I contour it. Without a doubt. I paint highlights and shadows in some way. Under the jawline. In one of the shots that we had before, the way I had the light, the light was bouncing off of her chest, and lighting underneath her chin. And I really didn't wanna see underneath her chin. I was trying to smooth that out. So I can actually paint shadows underneath the chin. I don't have to see it anymore. Same thing. So, let's talk about liquify for this photo. I look at it, I don't think she needs to be liquified. I don't even know ... Right? She looks great. But, I'll show you the things that would just be like little finishing touches. Little finishing touches that help. So what I'm going to do, is I'm going to duplicate my background. Alright, so we're gonna go to filter, liquify. Alright, so in liquify, the tool ... See the little lines around her head that just showed up? In the newest Photoshop CC, it's a face aware control, so you can actually change the shape of eyes, and the direction, and the tilt, and it's really cool. But that's in the newest CC. It existed a little while before, but now it's actually really useful. So what I'm gonna do, is the tool that I really want is in the top left-hand corner. It's the forward warp tool. And it allows me to move and change pixels. This would be what you think of when people are thinking, oh, you liquified someone, you made them tiny, you made the legs small, or the arms small. I'm not gonna do that at all. That's not my goal. What I'm going to do, is I'm gonna do some of the things I said on the list. So I, for example, would bring in the waist. Not because she needs to be skinnier, but let's define it just a little bit more. So I'd probably bring in her waist like, ooh, hey, hello. Like that much. That was tiny. Just a little bit. My pressure sensitivity is up. Next thing, see the pocket over here that's sticking out? That's a line that I would smooth out. It has nothing to do with her body, but it's making her look a little bit wider. So I would definitely just move in that line, and now it's a more pleasing line over there. Also, I love to make the hair bigger. Because it's pulling your attention up. So I'm clicking and dragging, and I'm smooshing the hair around. I also, in the final photo, I actually extended the length of her outfit. The little swoop here. Because I thought it was a good balance. But actually for her body, I wouldn't change the leg, I wouldn't change that, but I would lower her shoulders. Problem is, if I lower her shoulders, meh. It's not working. Now, you can use a smaller brush, but if you guys have ever used a smaller brush, sometimes you get those little, really annoying ... Well thankfully, in the newest CC's, they came out with a tool called the smooth tool. So if you use a smaller brush, and you get those little indents, you can go over it with the smooth tool, and it actually smooths out the line. So it's really, really nice. And that's in the last couple of Photoshop updates. But, that's not what I'm going to do in this instance. What I wanna do, is I wanna lower her shoulders, but I don't want to affect her face. So I'm going to grab the freeze mask tool. So freeze mask tool, over on the left-hand side, it looks like a mask, which is a rectangle with a circle in it. And then there's a brush. And when you mouse over it, it says freeze mask. When I click on it, anything that I paint in red here, will be frozen in place. It won't move when I liquify. So, if I want, I can freeze her face. Go back to my forward warp tool. And I can go ahead, and lower the shoulders. And it's not going to change the shape of her face. This is a tool that will become very handy when working with curves, because a lot of times, maybe they've got their arm real close to the side of the body. There just wasn't very much negative space. But you really wanna pull the waist in, and when you do so, you make the arm wider, and then you go smaller, but then it's not smooth. So you just freeze the arm in place, pull the waist in a little bit. Just as a, just something to consider, is when you do that, you can't liquify a ton, because you're only working with a set number of pixels. And the more you move it, the more it stretches them and it changes the shape. So you gotta keep it kind of simple. Keep little movements. Don't go over the top. Which is why, get it right in camera, as much as you can. Alright, so let's just take a look at the before after here. Watch the waist. Look at how subtle the waist was. Oh, oh, thinking, there we go. Super subtle, but I lowered her shoulders, popped out the hair. Keep it really simple. So let's now, we're going to switch over to another photo from, let's do one from today. Let's see. I'm gonna select one of these. And just to show you kind of what I would smooth out. I'll probably grab this one. Ideally, I would like ... I wish I didn't have the wrinkles there. And with more time, what I would have done is I would have chimped, and pulled the wrinkles smooth. Alright, so I'm gonna grab this shot, and just show you a couple things I would do for retouching. So, I'm gonna open it up in Photoshop. Alright. So, in this photograph, I'm gonna zoom in. Just take a look. Analyze what I need. I would go in, and I would kind of fill in the bags under the eyes a little bit. But, I would keep it really subtle. You want her to look her age. But let's talk more about the body. So, in this, I would smooth out this line. But not move it in, smooth it out. Same thing here. This is from my poor job at gathering the fabric. And then this down here, I would get rid of, because it's breaking up my line. Here I'd pull it in just a bit. So, with that, let me just do that, and liquify. So I'm gonna duplicate the background. Go to filter, liquify. Let's zoom in. Okay. So I'm gonna come over here. And I'm just gonna bring this in just a little. And smooth it out. Lots of little motion, but look what happened. You see the little wrist. So, if I'm getting in close I can just freeze it. I don't have to worry about it. So let's bring this in a little. Great. Alright, so something like that. I didn't actually make her any skinnier. I smoothed out the line. Let's move this in. Okay. Same thing down here. And I would probably spend a little more time on it. So that's fine. Let's take a look over here. I'd probably do something like that. Something about there. Doesn't need to be too much. Maybe I'd move this out, just so it made a smoother transition. Yeah, probably about that. So now it doesn't look like it's much of a roll. It just looks like it's a little bit fuller there. Alright, so now, down here, I really don't like that that's not a continuous line, so what I'm gonna try to do, I'm gonna hit OK. I'm gonna try to clone this. And what I'm gonna do, is I'm gonna use the lasso tool. The second one, that allows you to draw straight lines. Because what I can do, is I can draw this straight line, and I can just continue it all the way down. Let's see, maybe something like here. And I of course can go back in. But what this is gonna do is when I clone, it's gonna clone within that box. So it gives me a nice sharp line. So I'm gonna duplicate my background. Grab my clone stamp. And I'm just gonna clone. Smooth out my lines. Okay. And again, this is not changing her body shape, it's I screwed up with my fabrics scrunching. Alright, so, let's zoom out so far and see what we've got. Okay. Now, I think the bottom part of her body looks tilted now. Because it's like, wait, how is that, how does that work? So what I'm going to do, is I will probably warp it. Warp is, so the main tools that I use to change the shape of the body and move things, would be liquify and warp. So what the warp allows you to do is select kind of a box, and then you can move pieces within it. So let me do that real quick. Alright, so how I'm gonna do warp, is I'm gonna select the lower part of her body here. And, I'm going to hit Command-J, which copies and pastes it into a new layer. So if you look, here's what I've got in this place. Now, I'm going to hit Command-T, which brings up transform controls, which is usually what you can do to rotate things, and flip it. But the tool that I want is right here, and it's called the warp tool. So when I click the warp tool, this is what can let me move things. See what it's letting me do? Okay, so that's how the warp tool works. But you can also use it if you select someone's arm, for example. Because then you can slide it in, and it'll make it narrower if you had to squish your arm. So, let me just fix this. Somewhere, maybe around there. I think that looks good. So far, we got something like this. And of course, like I said, I would come in and clone that because I messed it up. But, that's the extent of how I would change her body. Smooth out lines. Nothing major, nothing drastic. And let me just ... I wanna darken down that area so you can't see it as much. Okay. Alright, now, I would also do, on this example, I would also contour her face. So I'd give her a little bit more definition to the face. Because if you look, I did use shadow, with it off to the side, to give her a little bit more sculpting. But, I can help out here. She doesn't, usually I do this on skin, she doesn't have that much skin showing so, the exact same thing as before. When I've got my two curves levels. One with lighten. Okay, hide it. This is what we did before. Curves, this time with darken. Great. And now I'm going to come in and paint that on. So I can come in, and this one was the darken. So let's do a little darker under her cheekbones. And this is where I can darken up underneath the jaw a little. Alright, because I've got, that was just reflection from the light. So we can darken up underneath the jaw. Underneath her cheekbones a little. And I can add highlights on top. Nice. Maybe just a little here. So, it kind of does ... Pops out her cheekbones a little bit. Gives her more structure to her face. And it also lets me hide, oops, lets me hide a little bit of this distraction below. And I of course can layer that, if I want it to go completely dark. Alright, so let me check. How am I doing? Alright, good. Let me do one more, and then I'll take questions to finish some things off. So, let me show you this before and after so far. I would of course retouch the skin, and probably floof out the hair a bit. So just, okay. So, let's do one more with skin. Okay, great one, alright. So this is Kristen again. Okay, so taking a look at Kristen, like I said, you've got, I got most of it right in camera. I've got a lot of good shape. I'm gonna quickly just kind of retouch the things I would do. I know for liquify, which we've already talked about, I would come in. I would zoom in. And I would just clean up this line. Move this line in just a little. Not necessarily making her skinnier, just smoothing out that line. I would also move this line of her arm. So how I would do that, is I'd move it that way. So now, I'm just kind of repositioning where it's located. So it doesn't look like it's sagging. So that's fine. Those lines look good. Looks good to me. I would lower her shoulders, but that's because I lower shoulders for everybody. So let me freeze her in place. Oh, and I would definitely floof out the hair, because this hair is perfect for that. Alright, lower her shoulders. Lower shoulders just a little bit. If you wanted to give a bust lift, here's how you do it. You just kind of, you can liquify and lift. Just pumping it up a little. Alright. Alright, so here's before and after of that. Nothing drastic. But this next part, I do not have time to go in depth. So, I'm gonna be a salesman but not. And tell you to go watch one of my tutorials on frequency separation. Because I don't have time to do it here, because it's a many step process. And so instead, I'm gonna run the action that I have. The action that I have, sets you up to retouch, but it doesn't actually do the retouch for you. If you go to my Skin 101 Retouching Actions on my blog, you can download it there. But what I would do, is I can come in, and I can smooth out some of these textures that I don't like. So what I'm actually doing, is I've got on the top layer, I've got all the texture of the skin. The actual texture. And the layer I'm retouching on, is the color and the tone layer. And so, if you watch what I just did, in like 15 seconds, just watch the difference. It just cleaned it up. So that's why you need to know frequency separation. But if I zoom in, she's still got skin texture. It's not like it looks blurry. And so I would do that the whole way through, just to smooth out any places that I see cellulite or anything that I don't want. Same thing over here. Smooth it out. Like I said, I'd spend more time, if I were actually doing this. And so I'm just trying to get rid of where it's blotchy. So for now, let's consider that good, even though I'd spend more time. Oh, and this where it's lighter, tan lines. I would go in and do that. Okay, so that's the gist of frequency separation, without telling you anything about it because it's much longer, but I wanted to let you know that it exists. Okay, so so far we've got ... Smooth out that leg, check out the leg. Look how much better in a minute. Okay, looks good. I would ... Oops, let me turn that back on. I would clone out underneath her armpit there. And so there's not any shortcuts. The tools that I use for retouching are the spot healing brush, the healing brush, and the patch tool. Then after that I use clone. I can't tell you which one works, because everyone's different, so I'm just like you. I try a bunch of them. I'm like, oh let's see. Maybe I can get the patch tool to do this really easy for me, that would be wonderful. Meh. Right? So it's the same thing. So I'm like, alright, well then let's go back and let's try the clone stamp, and see if I can just clone this in. And I could probably with a high opacity clone stamp, do it in a few ... Take me a little longer than that, but okay. So let's pretend that that was perfect. Okay. So, our last thing. Let's do the contouring one more time, that we've talked about. I have contouring actions, so basically you hit play and it sets it up for you. And then you can always go in, and you can adjust. If you want the highlights to be brighter, the shadows to be darker if you need it to be darker. But, I can paint shadows on either side of her leg. And this is gonna make them look real tight and real smooth. So shadows on either side. This is the outsides. And I'm not painting in the lines here, so I'd have to spend a little more time to be careful. On the outsides of the arm, top and bottom. Great. How about around the bust, to make it look a little fuller. So I'm painting where the shadows already exist. Let's paint the highlights on top of the bust. Make it look a little fuller. Let's do a line down the middle of the arms, so this is the highlights that we need to paint. How about the highlights on the leg. Of course I'm going heavy here. You can make it subtle. But watch the contouring on the leg. So all the sudden it looks real shiny and real tight. So, from the original image that we had with this, start with the very original. Zoom out. Here's the beginning. And that's the two minute retouch. So, smooth out lines I don't like. Tuck anything that I perhaps messed up on. I get rid of any texture to the skin that doesn't look good. Usually using frequency separation. The first step is usually with liquify. And then I end up with contouring. So that's the steps for flattering my curvy subjects. But for those of us that are maybe doing, like giving out maybe 50 images each time, where we're doing lots of pictures, this isn't gonna be so quick. So what would you suggest instead for curvy people that's maybe gonna be more time sensitive, and maybe in Lightroom versus Photoshop, or would you still say Photoshop? Kind of address that. Great question. Okay, so part number one of this, is anytime in retouching you take a shortcut, it doesn't look as good. That's just the ... That's just how it is. I take shortcuts. Frequency separation is a shortcut to localized dodging and burning. But, I don't have the time for that, so, we're doing frequency separation. So my answer would be this. For the cellulite part of it. I use the plugin Portraiture, which has a Lightroom plugin, and it has a Photoshop plugin. That would be your time saver for the skin. I believe I've got a, it's a or 20 percent off code, if you just use my name, Lindsay Adler, something in there. But, so that's a time saver for that, and you can actually run it as an action. If you wanted to, if you get the smoothing right, smooth out the skin. The liquify, it actually doesn't take that long. It really doesn't. It'd be probably a minute an image, if you think of it that way, to get the liquifying right. And the skin, if you're just trying to remove blemishes, and stuff like that, and there's a lot of companies that exist, that'll scrub a picture, meaning they'll just get rid of the pimples and blemishes, for two to three dollars an image. But it's not good retouching. It's just getting rid of the bad bumps. So if you're looking for, what's the trade-off for doing it yourself, versus pay, versus quality, so I recommend do Portraiture, and do the liquify by hand. Contouring, if there's a lot of skin. If there's not a lot of skin then you could skip it. That help? Okay good. Excellent. Anything else in my lovely audience here? Okay. I don't see any. Alright, perfect, so, let me kind of summarize and wrap this all up. When I photograph curvy subjects, I will also tell you that although I just gave you a list of five different things to do differently with curvy subjects, it's not really that different. I still give them the same treatment. They still get the hair and makeup. I still have a concept. I don't light that differently. I can pose some things a little bit differently, but sometimes it's just using perspective more. Or being aware of curve more. So, I don't like the idea of saying, "Oh you're curvy. I have to treat you so different." There's a lot of it that's the same. It's just these little things that take it to the next level, and help them look the best. Because a lot of the things that we're taught, are for slender people, and they're just kind of missing out on this part. So, think of it the same with little changes. And treat them the same. So the things that you wanna keep in mind is the clothing. Set yourself up for success. Get the clothing right. Make the effort. You have to have the discussion. If not, you're giving yourself so much more work. And then remember, that even if you get the posing right, you have to get the perspective right. The posing without the perspective is nothing. And how I get the posing to look good, were those things like having narrowing points, and finding a way to define the waist. Those are kind of my key things. And then retouching it should be the last step, either to just smooth things out, or just get rid of some distractions, or maybe if you did mess up, fix a couple things there. But, if you get it right in camera, if you noticed, most of them, it was just little things. They already looked good. It's just get rid of distractions. So those are kind of the five things that you should do, and should think of, anytime you're photographing a curvier subject.

Class Description

Photographers are hired to capture portraits that accentuate the best features of their subjects. Lindsay Adler will share techniques on how to photograph your full figured and curvier clients by accentuating their lines and creating beautiful silhouettes. She’ll show you how to highlight curves and use the right camera angles to flatter the shape of any woman. Lindsay will lay down a solid foundation of posing and styling so that you can make your clients feel comfortable in front of the camera. 
This class will cover: 

  • Styling suggestions for full figured women including a bridal session 
  • Camera angles and posing techniques for the most flattering images 
  • Photoshop techniques to help highlight your curvy subject
Whether your photography focus is a wedding, portrait or intimate boudoir, you’ll be able to represent your clients as the unique, beautiful women they are.

Class Materials

Free Bonus Material

Posing for Curvy Women - eBook Free Preview

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I’m only on Lesson 4 and I’ve already learned so much! Lindsay explains everything she’s doing and gives you the why’s and how’s of posing curvy women. This is a must-watch course for anyone who is faced with the challenge of making a curvy woman look her best. These women are so beautiful and they deserve to have the opportunity to work with a photographer who knows how to make them look their best! Thank you Lindsay for such a great course!

Peggy Nugent

This class is so amazing. Lindsay packs a ton of information in, clearly and efficiently. The best part is that she explains the reasons behind every concept, so now instead of setting up my clients in a few memorized poses, I can customize each look for the individual. As Lindsay dramatically demonstrates in this class, over and over, implementing her concepts makes a huge difference in how a woman looks, no matter what her size and shape. And Lindsay does it all with her usual charm and effervescence. This class is worth every penny, and much more.


Quite possibly Lindsay Adler's best class yet on Creative Live!! I own several of her classes - all are informative and helpful, but she is especially helpful in this one, providing LOTS of specific, non-fluff type of tips and quality instruction. The material is well-organized, and I really like that there is so much actionable information provided. Looking forward to putting the tips into practice!!!