Skip to main content

Retouching: Shaping the Face

Lesson 36 from: Skin 101: Lighting, Retouching and Understanding Skin

Lindsay Adler

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

36. Retouching: Shaping the Face

Next Lesson: Retouching: Beauty

Lesson Info

Retouching: Shaping the Face

I'm just going to kind of dive into just some other odds and ends other things that I wanted to address and then we're going to end with a difficult retouch but a beautiful one yes I mean it took a little taste a little bit more work to get it to where it's got to go but in the end it's got that beauty perfection all right uh let's take look here this was actually someone else's photograph somebody contributed this here and I thought I would take a moment to introduce this section we're telling you what I see when I look at a beauty image that needs to be fixed and so kind of what I'm trying to analyze all right so for this image for example when I zoom in couple things that I know that I would do if I were retouching and clean up the hairs here I'm looking at the eyebrows and it looks like they've been shaped but they look a little bit grayish I know that I would make them a little bit more contrast e her eyes are a little bit on evens I might open up the one on the right to give her ...

a little bit more symmetry I'd give her an even highlight down her nose so has more definition I would sculpt a little bit more but probably by dis using this highlight to shape I fill in the shadows underneath the eyes and clean up a lot of this skin texture here and soften but not completely removed the smile lines and then of course I would do frequency separation to even out the skin because it's a little bit unevenness here like it's a little bit more red there and they're so I try to smooth out that tone so it's a smoother line on then also doing so just even out all of the color if you look down here besides the texture it's actually a lot of different colors going on if you really really look at it because you've got it's a little bit more red here it's a little bit more scientists yellow there it's a little bit more yellow here in this I would definitely have to even out I would go ahead and correct the color on her chest her chest is not matching the rest of her body would get rid of the wrinkles in the armpit andi would clean up flyaway hairs probably adding a little bit more shine to the highlights of the hair I would dark and down around the eyes to make them pop and then bring up a little bit more color and sharpness in the iris so I would not do that with the portrait not that extreme because yeah I want to clean up the texture but it doesn't need to be a perfect shape with completely even tones and I you know I might do a little sculpting I would go even heavier and I wouldn't change the shape of their eye unless it was really really exaggerated so there's a lot of things that you just heard in that list that would go more in the fashion high end so how how I break it down is usually I have a quick edit which is if I just got to get up online and it's it's somebody's using it for web purposes I don't need to spend a lot of time and I can do that in about ten to fifteen minutes I could even do it with frequency separation cause I don't need to be punished shape a little bit to go into every pore then if it's going to be an image is going in a magazine I usually spend more like thirty to forty minutes on it and if it's going to be huge print or a beauty campaign than it's maybe more like an hour doing all of these different things so yeah it can take a lot of time but I don't spend that much time on every single image I kind of know where the end results going to be but for me the most important things I'm looking for is to have that nice even skin throughout so the blotchy nous is probably one of the primary thing that I think separate portrait from fashion is fashion if there's any uneven skin tone in a beauty images it's wrong that's not what you're aiming for where is in a portrait it's a portrait so have a little bit of uneven tone that's okay you can improve it but it doesn't need to be perfect whereas in beauty it's got to be just flawlessly even so that would be the breakdown of what I would do to a picture like that um let's look at a couple images let's start with let's start with our black and white because I didn't really talk about skin in black and white huh black and white conversion is definitely an art and something that you might want to check out would be a nick plugin if silver effects and silver effects it's really nice because of a bunch of presets you can kind of figure out what is helping you get the mood that you're going for and I usually do photoshopped plug ins but a benefit of using a later and plug in is perhaps that you khun work more with the raw file and you can have a little bit more information to work with but this is what I'm looking at when I'm worried working with skin tones but in black and white so when I convert this just convert it to black and white um skin tones are a little too even um it doesn't it doesn't have that pop it's a little bit flat so I asked myself what can I do to make this picture have a little bit more dimension and a little bit better texture so I often I will work here in the highlights shadows whites and blacks and I try to find a way to have some detail in the shadows bring up the shadows a little bit but I still want crisp black like true black point and I can turn on my left hand side pyramid there to make sure that I'm not losing detail where I wanted and I am not losing to tell anywhere essential so that's good not losing on the face anywhere not even losing it in the shadows under the neck so that's fine and then the same thing will turn on my highlights mornings so I'm going to then start playing with popping the highlights because as I pop the highlights there I just gave her face a little bit more dimension because the brighter highlights don't do that again the brighter highlights is the same thing we're doing when we're contouring we're bringing up the highlights making them more defined and shaping them whether it's makeup and photoshopped because it gives her more definition and shaped to her face and then the same thing with the shadows um if her eyes are really dark in there kind of dark here I might go ahead with a new adjustment brush to bring it up because if I opened it up in photo shop and then I'm trying to bring up the exposure it might start breaking apart and I might be able to see some banding or some artifact ing so anything that's way too dark I might work with here and again looking at this image I know that I need to fill in underneath the eyes and like see this darkness right here for perfect skin that doesn't have a reason that's not a shadow that is amplifying the shape of her face these would be good shadows the cheek bone in the jaw line but that is kind of randomly placed so I'd try to smooth that out a little bit so that's what I'm thinking of they want everything to be nice and smooth and all of the shadows and highlights and textures to have a purpose so I'm late pop the weights up just a little bit and I'm gonna watch and I'm not losing any highlights maybe something like that um this picture is slightly out of focus so I know that I might play with a little bit of duplicating that hi lair and in my re touching the hyler and the frequency separation so that it helps me make the sharpness just a little bit more because what will happen is as I start to retouch here it'll become too smooth and it won't be believable so I might need to layer and I clean up skin on her face and so we started let me see we started there and then I'm able to kind of shape her face and give it to mention we didn't talk about this type of lighting this is one type of light that we didn't talk about that is really important and that's why I put this image in here because I wanted to mention it and it's very complicated called window late okay um super fancy but the reason that window light can be so beautiful is it can be manipulated and people don't many photographers don't quite realize that and I definitely didn't for a while the reason that she has such defined shadows on her jaw line because although she was lit with a window uh I'm shooting I'm photographing her and the windows behind me although she was lit with a window I took those v flats the two pieces of black foam core and they were right here on either side of her face so the negative phil eats up some of that light and that's what defines her jaw line and her cheekbones when I have no v flats when I have no negative fill it looks kind of flat and has less dimension also is I have a window that's slightly raised and so she's sitting on the floor and the reason that helps is because it's kind of like a soft boxer beauty dish in the studio if I want more dimension to her face I raised that bt dish up well you can't really weighs raise the window up so I set her on the floor so they give it a little bit more sheep so you don't need to have any fancy modifiers or any fancy lighter anything to have beautiful light it's more taking control of it and kind of paying attention to its this is nothing more than window light with negative film let's photograph let's what's retouch this girl and I was like well that's a little bit to wow she's really perfect really quick thank you quickly lindsay brenda j is wondering when working in black and white do you do many of the enhancements in color and then convert or convert and then enhance and retouch that's an awesome question because how I retouch actually it will make a difference if I'm in black and white because I see different things I'm like notice the tonal difference in black and white whereas in color I'm focusing on a color difference I tend to try not to make convergence if I don't have tio until every touch is done because then I have a choice but if I know for sure it's going to be in black and white I'll just start off that way it usually saves me time and it gives me a little bit more accuracy on what I actually wanted to do oh man she's so perfect ok well we'll do this one really quick and then I'll jump into more challenging here and I want to show you a couple things uh so let's open this up as a beauty image in photo shop and we're rgb sixteen bit all of that so I mean that is if you agree that's impressive like that's pretty good I would so it's going through I would get rid of some of these dots I would get rid of the wrinkles in her forehead I might add a little sparkle to rise because they're pretty the biggest thing that I know bothers me is the puffiness on either side of her nose this little bit of swelling right there and it's not severe but just that little bit you want we wouldn't see that in a beauty campaign what they do is they kind of smooth it out and they give you more definition so I would definitely fix that she's our hopes she's already got amazing amazing shape but this is definitely kind of blotchy and her skin there if you're looking at how perfect your face is so I can do this pretty quickly enough to a few tricks I don't need to do that much honestly okay let's go into actions and this is an image if you guys missed it this is an image that we shot yesterday a beauty dish above and a silver reflector blow classic um clamshell lighting let's take a look on planes frequency separation taking a look at the pores on her face I'm going to start with zero and I'm gonna start blurring that low lair until they go out of focus there may be okay great and so the things that I did not like I said I didn't want that puffiness around her nose so I can clone on that low lair I'm gonna clone on lytton and I'm just going to try to smooth that out just a little bit I want to try to fill in those shadows and I'm like tiny bit filling the wrinkles under your eyes they're very minor so if I zoom out actually we do one more change something I always do I mentioned this always smooth out that highlight on the nose if somebody has a crooked knows what I'll do is if the highlight goes off to the side I cloned it out and then just clone a highlight straight down so you can tell it makes them look symmetrical and makeup artist do the same thing so I'm just gonna clone on highlight and I'm just sampling in cloning like I'm just clicking and sampling and clicking and sampling to even out this highlight um I think that the brow maybe looks a little heavy there so this kind of late ended up a tiny bit alright so so far that would kind of be the thing that I would start with so it's giving her a little bit more shape to her nose okay what else could I do I would come in and I would select clone on normal and even this out get rid of that texture and I would go ahead and fill in the shadows from these wrinkles I could get rid of them without frequency separation that would have been fine but I'm going to use my clothes damp on darken I'm sorry ana lytton just to fill it in since you didn't even more get rid of those even that up and lindsay really quick summer crook is saying you often say frequency separation or pore by pore are your two options that we want to see it but what exactly do you mean by poor by four so oh a retouching technique of a really high end re toucher is a zoom in to about one hundred percent or more and sometimes they zoom into the pixel level like pixel level and they'd say okay well that's uneven so let's all go to clone stamp one hundred percent and start doing that's everyone current and start getting rid of any imperfections at this level this is actually one of the more believable ways to get perfect skin but you've gotto literally be zooming in the hallway and right now I'm on none on frequency separation but let's say it wasn't it would be like this like all right so that's not perfect fix that and this is why they have the re touches that work for retouching firms they get paid two hundred dollars an hour and this is what they do and anything that's not consistent all the way around forever and ever and ever and ever it's crazy so yeah there are high and re touches that teach workshops on that and I just I find it impractical for my needs okay so another thing that I could do if she needed it is you can actually contour the face in frequency separation which means let's say that I wanted to give her a little bit more shape here maybe those highlights look a little bit small I can actually clone on lytton and extend them and shape you could do that this way so I could kind of let's go a little bit lower rapacity good so I can start too late and up that area of her face and give her a little bit more defined highlights so miss you before or after I'm broadening that highlight area it's going to be a little bit more pleasing shape to her face in sometimes contouring this way it takes a little bit more effort but it actually looks a little bit more natural because I can actually change the shape of her bone structure by how I'm cloning and shaping the face so I can go ahead and clone on lightened to give more defined highlight areas and then I can go ahead and clone on darken and I could darken down underneath her cheekbones and so it's actually kind of ah achieving two things because I'm smoothing out the skin but I'm also contouring so sick a little step back here and so it's giving her a little bit more shape in that way um other things that I would do is I would clean up here on her chin using layton and if by cloning on light and I'm just filling in some of the shadow areas but I'm still giving her that nice highlight I would clone online and maybe just tow get a little more definition there on bumps above her lips and I definitely would even this out this see how it's kind of unevenly shaped we do want tohave even shaped highlights because otherwise it communicates to us that our heads not even so we want to kind of even that out right and get rid of a couple more blemishes here safe it's in the texture later or not all right for me back up and I was so roughly this would probably be what I would do to the skin I might make that highlander forehead a little bit smaller maybe something like that from shaping her face okay but the big one bigger problem areas is going to be the skin on her neck this is when I would use a plug in so I go teo filter image gnomic portraiture and what I'm gonna do is I'm going to select the skin on her neck this is my after so nice and smooth maybe just a little bit too strong but will give me a lot more evenness and I'm not really worried about the texture that have been a separate layers so that is a lot less blotchy that's going to be a lot more even so hit okay and then using lair masks I can just apply that selectively so I'm gonna hold the old option key gives me a black blair and now I can use my brush at like thirty percent opacity and just kind of paint in some of that smoother skin we do a few more okay that looks good and that's really how long her neck is I didn't change anything I thought that was crazy all right so here's some before and after kind of giving her a little bit of shape okay so let's keep going on that I'm looking at her I would also consider evening out her shoulders a little bit because they're a little bit uneven so I think that's a good place to lead me into lickle file that she really doesn't need that much so I need to flatten this layer in order to be able to liquefy because right now if I try to change the shape of her face the colors on one hair and tones on one there and then the textures on another sort of just they won't match up so the shortcut to take everything squished together and put on a new layer command option shift and so I didn't flatten anything just switch it on top of her and I am going to go up to filter liquefy I say this for the end or near the end of this class because it's it's not exactly about skin but it definitely is because this is another place where a lot of people make mistakes on skin so I'm gonna tell you the things to watch out for which becomes obvious will liquefy so liquefy is the tool that helps you shift and move pixels so I can even out facial features elongate next which I'm not doing with her I can change the shape of someone's face am I can really just manipulate someone's form to fit whatever my idea is or the ideal forms of beauty whatever kind of shoot you're doing all right so here the things that often go wrong and she doesn't need much liquefy so it's pretty good but a common problem will be that somebody uses a liquefied brush that's too small so what ends up happening liz let's say I'm looking at her here and I want to lower this side of her body a little bit they don't want to lower her shoulder if you do lots of small movements it becomes even if you tried really hard it becomes visible and becomes noticeable even if you're very very careful so my rule of thumb is that you want to use the biggest brush that you possibly can and instead of doing big long movements like if you have to do a lot of liquefy you're better off doing several smaller movements sampling from different areas because when you're liquefying you're actually stretching pixels if you zoom in to the pixel level the pixels go from square to stretch like you can see it and that's that's why it's give away a lot of times for liquefying so if you click and drag over a long area everything just smears and you can see in the skin so the skin will actually look almost like it has stretch marks because it's been over liquefied so I will use a really big brush and sample from a few different areas and so for example for her let's say I wanted to lower the side of her body maybe I would use that big of a brush kind of just pull it down a little bit and I want to kind of see that perfect and I want to kind of even it out even out this the curve of her body little even if the shoulders in beauty photography one of the things that we consider beautiful is symmetry so I'm seeking in my retouching to try to get her a symmetrical as possible so I might zoom in and see mastro's their tiny bit asymmetrical maybe just shift them a little hope she's not watching so they do that because she is like very perfect so I make sure she knows that I can also make the lips a little fuller okay so that could be a liquefied this seems to be a little bit uh extended okay but something really really important is I didn't need to do that much liquefied because she's got a really beautiful face nice bone structure but liquefy you have to know a really really important tool one of the really important tools is this one right here it's called the freeze masked fool so when I'm liquefying and moving and changing shapes of her face in her jaw line and her shoulders and everything sometimes they're going to be things that I don't want to move so maybe she didn't have a long neck and I'm trying to lower her shoulders but when I use a big brush it pulls down on the side of her face and its search stretching so what the freezing asked lets you dio is it lets me paint in restricted areas anywhere that this is red it cannot be moved it'll be held in place so then if I'm liquefying and I'm moving things I know that she's going to have a nice symmetrical jaw line without any degradation to the shape so I can hold that there so now I just go back to my uh go back to my ford work tool which is in the top left and I can pull down and not worry about it moving the john the jaw stays in place and kind of see it there but the thing you want to watch out for is let's say that you have someone's hands next to their face okay something like this and you're trying to move over reshaped the face whatever it may be in their faces right here and you freeze it if there's not much space to work with those pixels start stretching like you've got to give it something to work with you can't freeze two things right next to each other and expect liquefied to work because now you have fewer pixels and it just it destroys them so just know that sometimes freezing is going to actually cause a problem because you have no pixels to work with another tool that ice sometimes use for skin as well is there's this tool called the push left tool um and you want to play with the brush density and pressure it has different effects but when I go ahead and I'm going to be a subtle difference you see what it did when I click and drag up the contour of her body it pushes the skin in a little bit and this is really really nice if you know that you want to have a nice smooth line if I click and drag to the left it just pushes it in a bit but if I click and drag down it pulls the skin out so this is another tool that you might want to play with your trying to reshape things push left pushes it in going right pushes it out so the cursor he said it's where is going to be brought on the edge of the circle for this particular tour the ford work tool for guessing here either okay and we're going to go with the ford warp thing so it's affecting everywhere and something that you might consider is let's say like lowering her shoulder here I am better off trying to push in versus grabbing from the inside and pulling because that stretches versus compresses when you're compressing it down it's less noticeable of the change versus if you're clicking and dragging so the entire circle is having that effect but on the outer edges you can go a little bit more gentle where is it going to have a bigger effect in the center and why use this all the time there was a question from he's in my sea is it possible to show how toe add pixels back after liquefying all right so what you have to do let's say uh I'll see if I could have ruined some pixels over here oh that um so if you let me mess up your pixels completely usually what you have to do is you have to copy a part of the background move it over and blended in in order so if let's say that you had a background with a pattern maybe and you liquefy and it now the patterns old wonky it's all uh it's all curved so what I have to do is it has to take another section of that that pattern place it over and try to blend it in it's not really something that you can correct you've just got to kind of replace it if you degrade the quality of the pixels all right so for her only other things that I would try is that would try and playing with the eyes a little bit she already has awesome eyes here so I want to introduce the last action that is on my blogged and that is the burn and dodge action and here's what it does well I can I can create it anyway so I'll show you and then then you can have the action what you khun dio is you can create a new blair granular you're changing the blend mode too soft light and you're filling it with fifty percent grey so what that does is it gives you this neutral gray tone when you change neutral grey too soft light it is completely nullified like you don't you won't see anything so if I do this before and after nothing happens because what soft light is it's a contrast layer so you're going to see changes in that layer based on where it was brighter or darker than the layer below it if it is completely neutral and you haven't softly it's not going to make a difference so the reason that you might want to do this a couple different versions of this is you can use it for burning and dodging I can grab a soft low opacity black brush this black brush low opacity very soft and anywhere that I paint with this brush will start getting darker and I'm painting on a grey layer and it's just really really low capacity and so if I want to give her eyes a little bit of the pop I can contour them in this way just by painting in more shadows and something that is commonly seen is beautiful for eyes is outlining the outside of the iris so as we're looking here it's acting as a burning and dodging but it's totally non destructive it's not like I took that layer and grabbed my burn and dodge tool because that actually ruins the pixels and so if I changed my mind I can always just paint white to go brighter so I can paint great to just get rid of it and so I could actually use this if I wanted to paint the highlights and shadows like I said in that very first example of how you could contour like that it's not the best way to contour but it's a way of burning and dodging so I could start start painting on some highlights over here maybe late enough contour bit on her cheeks and I could grab some shadows underneath and I could darken down her jaw line so you could contour like that if you wanted to you could also give her a little bit more definition to her eyebrows and then conversely it can switch overto weight and I could lighten up the center of her eyes and if it made those irises are the people to light you can darken it down so I would kind of play with that to shape the face so here's what that letter did so far so that could act as my contour so you're basically lightning and darkening burning and dodging but it's not destructive you paint white real soft to make something later dark on light it up and you ain't black to darken it down so that is what we have here one last well it's not skin related but just since we're here on her eyes I would also on the left hand side grab the triangle it's right underneath the paint bucket it's called the sharpened tool and what I'll do is I use a sharpened tool on fifty percent strength and kind of trace around her eyes once or twice and what it does is it brings out a little bit more detail in the eyes so it's not exactly skin related but if there's part of the skin that you wanted to just increase the contrast a tiny bit you could go over that if you go too much I mean it does that it will fall apart but just a little bit it says the exact same but it's kind of like my clarity and photoshopped because we don't have the same clarity sliders once you open up the files and photo shop so that time light selectively increase the contrast in the mid tones all right so I'm going to move on to a more challenging image but I'd be happy to take questions yeah is there a general skylines are re touching the lips backside between portrait in the fashion or or the ones that you way c in the studio on the walls I don't know if that lives have bean retouching anyway soft and sharpen so what I usually try to do if I try to even out highlights because when you haven't even highlight then it makes the lips look more even and I tried to pop the highlights a little bit more make them brighter so that they look fuller so what I might do on this one for example is I could take my clone stamp on light and and I could kind of just bright enough and even out this highlight a little and I might do this on the em in the frequency separation step but I could make it a little bit more even in the same thing with the lip here I basically think this anything that is asymmetrical clearly uneven thinks whatever it is nostrils lips there's there's the girls facing on straight on evenly and the highlights on both side of her face are equal they need to make it equal the same thing for unevenness in the skin always make that even so I'm going for evenness and symmetry if I could give you my list of the things that makes somebody proceed be perceived is more beautiful it would be bigger or brighter eyes a lot of times not always um uh symmetry long necks high cheekbones the fine jaw line's completely even skin and it was really kind of my main list so like I'd be kind of my checklist of things that I'd be looking at I tryto even all of that out so I would definitely treated even out the highlights here on her lips so real quick if you wanted her lips look glossier fuller you could intensifying those highlights by painting white you could do that paint white and make him look a little brighter but what I often will d'oh is using occurs adjustment larry I'll drag grab curves I change the preset here too strong contrast and strong contrast obviously looks you know a little bit too much but if I just apply it's the lips let me just paint it off of the skin here if I just apply it to her lips they start to look glossy and they start to look fuller the biggest problem I run into is that I had color shift so I changed the blend mode two luminosity and now the lips just look fuller so that is something that you want to consider when I break in the highlights and darhk in the shadows it makes the highlights look like they stick out more and the shadows look like they receive more so it's more dimension and fuller lips I also would even out the gap in her lips I would liquefy that down because it's not symmetrical and if anyone's listening and thinking like I'm crazy this is just in beauty photographer you're making everything even everything smooth everything symmetrical so something like that's your loose lips look significantly fuller after doing that

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Makeup Contour Reference
Retouching Checklist
Frequency Separation
Retouching Files
Keynote 1
Keynote 2
Gear Guide
Skin Retouching Action File

Ratings and Reviews

Aliah Husain

Lindsay is an INCREDIBLE photographer and teacher, and also seems like a wonderful person! This class is great for beginners and more advanced photographers, as well. She goes into tons of detail on all the technical stuff like lighting and editing, and it is fascinating to see her interact with and shoot her models, work with her equipment, and photoshop like a pro. Huge amounts of information for what you pay for. If you are looking to improve your skills in photographing and retouching people, purchase this class!!

Kirsi Todd

Lindsay is probably my favourite instructor (and that is saying a lot, as there are many incredible instructors). She is so clear in her teaching and she also seems like such a nice and humble person despite her incredible success. This course is one of the best courses I have ever seen. Thank you Lindsay and Creative Live!

Andrew Lederman

Great course. Lindsay Adler is one of the best instructors for any creative live classes that I have seen. Simple and easy to understand, clear workflow, very friendly and non condescending like some other instructors. Could you put a link (maybe I just didn't see it) to where to download the actions used in this tutorial?

Student Work