Advanced Skin Smoothing Technique
There's two skin smoothing techniques that I'm going to share with you one is a little easier to do and I I'm not positive but I think this was invented by a photographer called uh calvin hollywood yes his last name is hollywood I'm not sure he's a german photographer actually um but so I think that he created this thing and this is just the craziest, most non intuitive thing you could imagine so bear with me now we'll watch we'll see if this this image works well with this technique I'm going to create emerged copy of all of these things was that several layers here all doing different things but I want to put that all into one layer and put it on top so I'm gonna hold down the option or if you're on a pc er read the old key I mean, go over to my layer options here and I get my layer options menu and I'm going to select merge visible while I'm holding down that option key and it puts a merged version of this image on top and this is exactly identical to all the layers underneath it. O...
k, so bear with me this is a totally non intuitive technique, so we're going to invert this I'm going to go image adjustment, invert or command I and it's an exact negative of itself okay? And then we're going to change the layer apply mode from normal too vivid light and it cancel itself out I'm smooth out the skin thank you very much how that will be five thousand dollars? Uh yes no, not that, but just bear with me this is the sequence of steps is completely non intuitive and I don't know how this guy figured this out, but I when I meet him I will buy him a beer because this is great. So, um we're going to go filter other high pass normally high passes something we do, we can make a sharpening effect out of it here. Uh, the high pass filter is going toe kind of create a blurring effect because we're we're kind of using this high pass on an inverted layer that's being applied and vivid light mode so it has a strange effects. I'm I'm going toe I'm looking for enough smoothing I'm completely ignoring like the hair what it does to the teeth or the eyes and I'm just sort of looking on the skin. Um it's it has a certain kind of little patches of of the darker skin show up is whiter, but I'm I'm gonna I think I'm just going to go for ah about nineteen pixels here to get enough smoothing I have a feeling that another technique will be better for this image but let's just go through this just to show you how how it works so I've applied this high passage twenty pixels okay, now again I'm not done non intuitively I go back to the filter menu and I'm going to blur it so I've done this high pass move on the inverted thing and I'm going to blur it on these gazi and blur but the blurring is gonna have the opposite effect it's going out going to sharpen it and bring out uh so I use some smaller radius than the blur to bring back the skin texture so I do have a feeling another techniques gonna work better for her because I'm seeing some odd colorizing effects here, but I find a small enough radius to bring back enough of the texture if I go really small, I get I don't get enough texture back if I go really big, it starts to look like alligator skin, so I want to find some area where I've still got enough of that texture, but I'm getting still getting a smoothie in effect. So and I'm since I like round told numbers just saying five instead of four point nine for no reason other than I like the number five ok, so all right, so so now we've got in this one layer is doing this funny kind of uh sort of skin smoothing effect and now I would hide this I'm going to hide it, use it with a black layer mask, go down to the bottom of the layers panel here, hold on, option and click on add layer mask now, I've I've hidden all of that skin smoothing, and now the trick is just to paint it back with white, and you'd only really want to paint it over the areas we really you really feel you need some of that smoothing effect, and it it does. It usually does a pretty nice job of kind of evening out the skin or making the wrinkle seem less deep so you can see what I'm what it's doing here and again, because it's on a layer and I'm using a mouse, I'm not being really great here. Um, I don't necessarily have to use it full strength and it's kind of interesting. Um, it's sort of knocks back these thes freckles the way I set the parameters here. And really, uh, you know, those those portrait filter effects that you can buy for skins moving, do something like this. Uh, but they just have a lot more convoluted in your face to get you this place. You can do it photoshopped using this, okay, so, you know, it's helped it's helped kind of glamorize a little bit I probably wouldn't want to have done a little more retouching before I got to this point you know you just decide how much skin smoothing you really want you know all the way or just some you know kind of back it off depending on how how heavy handed you want to be okay, so that's that's one one approach ok cool or any questions showing up about this I can clarify this before I move on to the next one okay, which is even more amazing e plug ins third party the answers that air doing essentially the same thing I'm familiar with uh portraiture perfect portrait there's a bunch of better out there what are your thoughts? I mean, since you're coming at it from a photo shop approaching this looks very labor intensive in comparison to the overwhelming array of plug in products that are available I'm still trying to find my way on yeah, I mean, this is not very labor intensive okay? Seems labor intensive because I'm taking the time to describe all the steps you could build an action that does this that sets up that layer in a flash than I do is painted in that to me is way easier to use in some of these plug ins which have you tracing the eyes and you know they're they're sort of building auto masks and then they also do like face distortion kinds of things and I find that by the time you've done offset all the citizens and settled of sliders and wiggled everything in drawn in all that stuff I would have been done you know like fifteen minutes earlier just doing something like this and photo shop so not that they do more than just this but but I prefer this this approach has way more control and I prefer doing something like this and photo shop is opposed to using one of those those plug its I'm not super familiar with light room but is that another big distinction between light room and photoshopped work we'll light room you has no real access to layer so you can't really do anything that would require layer and so there's there's limits to how much you could do even cloning has really kind of it's sort of clumsy and like room so you don't really want to use it for fine detail so thank you now yeah skin or glamorize it like a point where it's so surreal that you know it doesn't look yeah really um um that's that's a matter of taste and sometimes a client request so you you have to retouch to where your client wants it um and I've had clients ask for ridiculous amounts of like smoothing and like like really she looks like an alien from outer space no we love it you know so kind of you know kind of a hard call I do prefer these these but techniques that preserve some skin texture rather than replace it. In my skin book, I have a very long, arduous, detailed blurring technique that puts an artificial texture back in, you know, and, you know, it's, very labor intensive, and in the end, it's, like you still have toe reduce the capacity that layer pretty far to make it look natural. And these this this approach and the one I'm going to show you next, which I hopefully I can get through before the day is over. So I'm gonna I'm gonna power into that right now. So hopefully, uh, I have enough time to show that I'm gonna turn this off. And, um, let's. See, I'm goingto this. This approach is called a frequent frequency separation, and what we're going to attempt to do is put the texture in one layer and this sort of the color in another layer. Or are high frequency transitions, which air this texture in one layer and low frequency trenches, and joyce is sort of like general shape and modulation in another layer. So in order to do that, I'm gonna I'm going to let's see, I'll make you think I can make let me make I'll make three layers emerged layers on top so I'm going to hold down groups have something. Some pixel were selected here. Uh, and I'm going to emerge at the top here, merge visible, ok? And I'm gonna duplicate that three times. Okay, I'm gonna turn off my top player and this layer, um, will make it a smart object. So I'm gonna go layer smart objects convert to smart off. The only reason I'm doing that is so that I can run a filter on this and then change my mind and run a different felt. So now that it's changed as a smart object. Now I'm going to, uh, do a blur. So I'm gonna I'm going to do god's and blur, and I'm going to blur it enough to just kind of even out this the surface of skin. So I don't want to see any evidence of riel, uh, wrinkles, but you know I have the major shapes are still there. So right now on this image is looking like, you know, maybe sixteen pixels maybe fifteen pixels is let's use fifteen because I like those multiples of five all right, now on this layer I'm going tio do something kind of different here I'm going to apply image and I'm going to take the blurred uh blurred copy here of this pope's using that same sources layer here that I want so I want that layer four copy this one is the one that's blurred I'm going to be applying that to this image yeah in subtract okay and I mean, this is kind of tricky stuff here so bear with me I changed the scale to two and my offset to one twenty eight and I get this thing that sort of looks you know, it kind of looks like a high pass layer but um now I apply that to the underlying image in, uh linear in your life and I brought back the focus so it's just as sharp as it wass but this this area actually has all the texture and the underlying area has sort of the color with shape. Okay, now gonna go back here to this this smart object and this smart object means I can undo that filter on he's gonna throw that filter way try to throw, try the food through the filter way to grab the right thing so I throw the filled away and and now it looks ridiculously like super sharp alligator skin right? Because I'm now applying that skin texture back over the sharp image but I'm going to go back in here and change the blur level that I that I had instead of gaza and blur I'm going to surface surface blur is is a way of blurring and still preserving your hard edge transition so my major edges I wantto keep more or less sharp but the the image I want to get I wanted to get enough blurring in here so I'm gonna pick a nice fat blur on radius here determines how much of the image gets blurred so I need to find enough rate it's that I get most of the image they want blurred but you'll see it doesn't blur the darker shapes because I'm actually this the radius is the amount of blurring the threshold is like how much of the energy is blurred so I'm gonna find sort of dance between these two to get enough smooth and you can kind of see what's happening is is I'm getting a similar effect that I was with the other thing by getting more blur in the skin by smoothing skin out I get a little more of that kind of smooth this thing happening but the reason that I'm going to do this as opposed to um the other approach this approach gives me the texture in one layer and aiken now sort of attack that texture separately because easier to retouch the blur's kind of ah calculation intensive filter those who takes a little bit longer to run um I want to talk with us on and off and you see kind of interesting you know what what has happened it's interesting also in the hair so sometimes you can actually use this teo smooth out ragged hair as well as you know smooth that skin on you know, the bane of all live presentations is the filter that takes a long two run yeah first um first option that you should I don't know what he calls that it's just this skin smoothing uh so um it's the kind of inverted high pass layer if s and you'd mentioned someone's name associate I believe and I'm not just positive but I think this is calvin holding you have people in the chat rooms said yes and you haven't hollywood and somebody else is from his hometown in germany that was well snapshot artist oh yeah uh okay, so um let me talk to this layer so that's where we were before and you know now we're like this it's it's subtly different and I don't necessarily want to play it over the hair although it doesn't look like it knocks back the highlights on the hair a little bit much but if it does have an interesting effect tips? I don't wantto so that one I want to so low this one. Okay, so you can kind of see it's sort of filling in the shadows a bit because I have the texture was created from the difference between the gaza and blur, which wasn't as much. And now I've re blurred the underlying layer so it's a little smoother and now way sort of attack the texture separately from the color in this layer. And aiken turn that later normal and one of one of the things that I like to do, tio kind of work, this, uh, is put a curve on top that accentuates the contrast. So I'm just making a radical contrast to curve by making a straight line that passes through the center point here. So I'm accentuating the essentially accentuating the texture in here and this this layer down here is mostly gray with some texture. And so if I want to knock anything back, uh, one way of doing that, would you just sort of paint in with gray to lighten things that air dark? So, for instance, I may want to kind of just blow back some of these, uh, darker wrinkles so I can non destructively since where there's, an interest in that will create, emerge. Ah group layer empty layer on top here and if I hold down the option key when I click in between the two layers, I can force this layer to group to that underlying later so this is going to be my layer that's gonna hold medium gray paint so um and medium gray for these calculations is one twenty eight, so I just make sure I get my color picker and I make these red green and blue one twenty eight and that's medium gray which in a linear light application is sort of neutral, so I'm going be painting in this layer linear gray to cover up some of these wrinkles and I'm going to change this player mode toe lighten, so I'm not going to be covering up the lighter highlight it's so it's already getting pretty geeky here? Alright low opacity, twenty percent and I'll just kind of paint over some of the darker wrinkles they see how they're getting a little bit lighter, so I'm just sort of knocking them back just a little bit and I've got this contrast effect on top of it too, so just I can see and visualize this easier just kind of in essence this this layer is acting to kind of like fill in the shadows a little bit I can also get in here and use like the spot healing brush on this layer or actually do cloning and retouching, which is a lot of high end return cher's work it they'll actually get in there and poor by poor kind of go over the texture of the face and kind of even it out work it in so that they don't kill the texture but but working a bit I can make one more layer here. Uh group it and we'll change it to dark. And so now I've got aiken blow gray paint in uh that's going toe cover up the highlighted areas like the's thiss kind of highlight here that sort of vain by the side of the nose. I wanna knock that back right? Ok, so now now let's, turn this off for my contrast adjustment off and we'll return that gray layer to live your life and you see the retouching effect let's zoom out just a little bit there she is, so I'm actually preserving more of the skin. I think this is a more flexible retouching approach, but it's more complicated. So the, you know, the calvin hollywood skin smooth thing is a lot easier to do and it's all in one layer and it's just kind of you follow the steps and you could make an action that does most of it uh but this is kind of a little more studied approach and weaken here's. A number of techniques this way to help re touch the skin. It does make it easier to deal with that texture separately from from the rest of it, and we get a kind of nice little glow out of it, you know, compared to, uh, you know what we were doing before and again, I might here just painted over the face. So, uh, what I'd want to do is put all these layers, which are affecting this skin texture, and I will select all of them, right, and put that in a group. So I go to my layer options here and say, new group from layers, and it sort of puts, and we'll call this, you know, skins moved, and it puts him in a folder here. So all those layers were still there. But because they're in this group, I can treat that like one layer so I can use one layer mask to hide the whole thing and then paint back the skin, smoothing over the face and keep it away from the areas where I don't really want that effect. So again, I just I'll just paint in, uh, white into that layer mask to get this smoothing all over, comes up and keep it off the hair. Uh, subtle. And I think probably our internet audience sees this better than you guys do, but, um, and you know, I'm really kind of not. I'm not nearly done enough with this, uh, image uh, here's. Another little tip. Sometimes when you're building a layer mask it's a good idea to solo it so that you can see whether you have holes in it. So again, that trick holding on the option and clicking on the layer mask will show me the mask, and I can kind of see, like you have little holes here in here in here, I could fill those in and tablet back. I hit again with the option can yell down so low it and see you know maybe I want I need to paint into this area a little bit okay and it works on on the hand as well way don't even look at the hand but let's let's that out a bit I wonder if the if the er calvin hollywood things moves out that hand gonna throw away this yes he I'm getting much more radicals moving on the hand using the calvin hollywood think that it's almost it's too much but I can you know kind of reduced the opacity on it just a bit and then I would go in and use the dodge and burn thing to take that hard shadow out of that vein and again I I probably would only use this on the hand so let's make a black mask I can make a black mass by holding on option and clicking on the mask icon groups and I made a vector mask throw that away uh so now I've got the black mask and I could just paint with white paint to smooth out that hand a bit and maybe coming here and we'll do ah dodging burn layer overlay see doug to and, you know, kind of just not that that shadow back that little shot on the being don't take it out entirely I am using a mouse and it's got tired of getting the other day on so, you know, you're just gonna have to cut me some slack here. Sorry, but you get the idea. I mean, you can come back in and sort of combined things to get the effect that you want. Um, you talk all that toggle? What? Just the changes that you just did? Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah, ok, just, you know, and I'm not by no means done, I'm just showing you what can be done and you could work the freckles and a little bit, you know, just kind of unfortunately, you do have to spend some time at it, but let's now kind of see the before and after, where we've got to from here to there. Well, right, that's, a big difference. So any last minute questions, because we're we're way only got a couple minutes left here. So, like those questions in before we go off the air, a comment from charlene, who says love, love, love, thank you. Okay, have a question from love, my picks and enrique malika, who both say, we know that you are a patient, patiently teaching us, and so therefore going slower, how long would you usually spend on an image in your studio and then and also, do you use this full workflow always or you? Sometimes about the waiting the cost benefit of a simple workflow? Uh, well, I mean, certainly, um, if if I'm not being paid to do this kind of retouching, I am not going to spend the time. I mean, you know, if they're going to pay me for this image that's, the image I'll deliver, I generally will do at least the color stuff, you know? Because that can global color stuff can happen. Uh uh, pretty fast, but as far as the retouching, yes, always, you know, trade off with cost and how how much is it? How much does it cost and whether I'm being paid enough to do it? Uh, an image like this, if I really you know, if this wass, you know, say, you know, one of the desperate housewives, you know, and they need to get they need some serious help toe look a glamorous as they do in the print ads. Then I would spend, you know, I could spend all day easily getting getting this worked out. So, you know, if it calls for it and you're getting paid to do it, yes. But then you do have to sometimes figure out like I only got this much of the budget for retouching, right? I would have to do something simple quick and dirty get in and out of this and I wouldn't I wouldn't necessarily do the really complicated way of doing it even though that way can be made more invisible, which is always the goal you want to do the retouching and have people look at it go was this retouched or was it not retouched and have to guess so if you thinking tell there's reattached it's, you know and really, you know, this is so far what we've done is a little heavy handed and would require a lot more work teo teo, to make it perfect so I don't want to get the idea that by any means that something just turned on. So, uh, I think, you know, I don't you think that this is finished, but you know, but I think what's so important what you're teaching us is what do you know, everything that you could do then you know where you can scale back on and given what the job is or what have you and so to kind of follow up on that question, the question from louise henry s o what technique is preferred for you for you, um, the hollywood the common hollywood for speed and then the separate frequencies for its accuracy. Is that just like how dogo I mean, which is the frequency separation technique is more flexible and can be applied. And many, many other situations? Um, you could you could use it for retouching clothing. You know, holding has a texture in it. And if you want to get out a wrinkle, but keep the fine texture of the father, you can use this frequency separation technique in a very interesting way toe could preserve the fine texture and blow out the larger shapes because you're separating out the frequencies. You know? Um, so yeah, it's just kind of depends. I mean, in some images, the calvin hollywood skin smooth is just that's. All you need is so so brilliant and it's quick and easy and really make an action to set up those layers and brush it in and you're done, you know, so, um, but not every image, you know, every there's, some problems with it, too. Sometimes that you just certain images just don't. Respond to it as well. Where the frequency separation. You can always find a way to kind of die a lit work. It it is more labor intensive, but it's also more flexible and more detail on it. You could kind of really do finer work this way. Uh, and it's, you know, it's, a fairly new technique that a lot of the high end re touches of. They do a lot better job than I do with this, but it is it's now a very powerful technique that other people are using in other ways. So question from mary from costa rico. I'm used. I'm used to seeing the dodge and burn painting using black and white. You use a skin tone color and brown. How much of a difference does that make? And also do you ever dodging burn using curse you can dodge and burn use using curves? Um, the for these little wrinkles and things it's just easier. Teo. Teo, use. Uh, you know, you can use an empty layer and just painted with white and black. As long as the late that layers and overlay mode, it will have a similar effect. Um, I used the dodge and burn tools on a gray layer because there's other things sometimes, aiken. Add texture noise into that gray layer that could be used for other things as well as dodging bring so it's my habit to use the dodge and burn tools on a gray later somehow I think that was the question was asking about from using brown and I don't recall using brown or he's just can't talk color are using white black I was using the dodging burn tools so the dodging burn tools aren't just lightning and darkness that gray layer which has no color okay so I'm trying to avoid that sometimes I would use soft light instead of overlay overlays a little heavy sometimes so for more subtle dodging a burning I will use a soft light layer instead of overly layer but the whole point is to not have color be applied into the image um and so the gray overly layers way of separating keeping the dodging and burning off the actual pixels of the image so you have that layer capacity you can also work okay follow up question from phil what factors go into deciding whether to work with a white mask paint out effect with black or a black mask paint in effect with uh you know if I if I need to come hide the effect in most of the image I was a black mask and painted in on lee where I needed if I want the effect to be applied over more of the image and I only need to hide certain areas that I'm more likely is white and then painted with black hide it so for instance, in the in the hues saturation thing, I was ok everywhere because only was shifting the reds so I only needed to hide it off the lips, so I use a white mask and then masked paint with black to hide it from the lips it's a small area where is on the skin smoothing and I didn't want it applied everywhere in the end is just on the skin, so I would make that mass black and painted in on lee in the areas smaller area of the overall picture that I wanted to smooth, right? I have a question that sushil has been waiting patiently for of her a majority of the day, and that was going back to setting the black and white points good says from what I've learned, setting back and points and white points that you have done is essentially a print pre production process, something that's done to ensure that there's never a clear white patch on a page or dense black mash of seem like a thanks could you please clarify on this point if your primary with regard to your primary output was toe rgb for, say, webb, would you still do that, uh if yeah, I mean if your primary output is a web page it's okay to have a zero black because you can see into the blacks on, you know, on a monitor uh, the trick really is tio neutralize your black and white points so, uh he almost never wants a white object to go all the way to two fifty five uh, you want that white object to be able to have a highlight or a texture or something on it so you could I I would say even in rgb I would keep that white pointed to forty five just tow, you know, preserve some sense of texture and tone, but yeah, you know, for webb, but these days you know, images or multi abuse if it's going on the web, it may also be used for prints, and we don't always know how are images they're going toe end up being used if it looks good with a black point of fifteen, fifteen, fifteen, it will still look good. Our website trust me on this, you know you don't need to set that black point two zero if you really want to maximize the contrasts or you're desperate to really get super punchy, yes for web display on a monitor that's backlit you can't have a zero black point good? Yeah, another question question ok, this is kind of a specific question, but nick ray asked, do you find that cannon bodies tend to produce too much red in the skin tones, especially caucasian people? And if so, do you correct by calibrating your camera? Or do you prefer to do it? Photo shopped on a percentage basis? Um, you know, an interesting question, I think all cameras, all digital cameras have their own idiosyncrasies. Almost all of them actually will emphasize the red component of skin. So I don't think this is a cannon versus a nikon issue. Um and it's easy enough to solve that. I'm I'm not looking for the ultimate camera. That's going toe, not have that problem. I gave up that search along time ago. Um, so, um, you there are things you can do in your raw calibration, right? I talk about this in my skin book it's a little involved. Uh, but you can build a profile for your camera. Uh, we're edit the color calibration profile. Like when you when you shoot that excite color checker. Uh, that sort of automate automatically kind of build a profile to render the colors on the target accurately. And there's no functionality of of actually editing specific ranges of colors which is what you would have to do with the reds um so adobe however as some beta software that's been beta software for a long time and it's actually the software that they use when they're building like they build a profile for a new camera they run it they shoot a target they run it through this software that allows them to sort of tweak the rendering of the camera to match what days perceive is the camera manufacturers intended rendering so get something that looks like you know like nikon camera rendered a nikon software um anyway they have the software it zubaydah saw for and it's hard to find I have I have a tutorial on my website I believe on some disks that I'm going to be giving some people um and I write about this in the skin book so the trick is to go on adobe and in adobe labs and look for d n g profile editor they have the software and allows you to actually edit that specific ranger reds and push it towards yellow so um the problem is that you do these sort of global edits in a profile and then every red thing that's in that range if it's a red tie or a red ball whatever is all gets shifted to yellow and sometimes you just don't you don't want to do that so I consider it more of a retouching issue and I would approach it with the sea saturation approach was very detailed specific to a specific area the image and not a global thing uh there is something very quick you can do in light room um so when we're working the colors in light room uh we can go to the h s l area the age of cell sliders and set your sliders on hugh and now the red slider if we push the red slider towards yellow we could get a similar effect but you know you can't matt you know we now have to jump through hoops to mask it off of the lips so uh you can either do it globally like this or uh now you can sort of apply it in the in the brush so um it's a little little trickier here and actually yeah it's it's the brushes it zamora about brushing on a color so I would say for that type of global correction you're better off doing it in the age of cell area and just you know, that kind of thing and we have to cull arise the lips back to make the more red so six of one half a dozen the other right maybe if you had a lot of images and you need to apply this over everything you could use this approach in like, very cool well our brains are a little bit fry way still have torn in two more days just wait, we're going to do so funds before we just have a couple more minutes I wanted to ask a kind of final final question of the day if you could share a story about one of your most challenging retouching projects or just something that stands out in your mind of that you could share with us well, my most challenging retouching project had to be the monkeys in the library a new image that I did for national geographic and the assignment was to get one hundred chimpanzees typing out shakespearean on library and they were all working on a prototype macintosh computers and was done for national geographic magazine and the photographer was actually famous photographer named louise soya and he rented my studio but he had no clue how to actually do this job and I kept coming coaching telling him we'll do this shoot it on blue screen you know we were shooting this chimpanzee one chimpanzee so the assignment was to put take this one champ and put him in too little to this library one hundred times it took me like two months of retouching to get this all done and in the end they they'd specifically asked for one hundred right? And after I finished it and turned it in, the art director called me, said lee I hate to tell us to you, but I count one hundred two chimpanzees in this image. You have to take two out. So after all that, I was like, oh, I've got to take two out now, so, um, yeah, that was that's a ninety one, and you can see that picture on my website. Wow, I mean, check that out. Sure way. I know. There's. I think we had some links about my goes to an adobe presentation that made twenty years, and yeah, digital imaging. And I talk about the chimpanzee image in oh, that's in that cool, that is a that's. A really cool piece will drop that in the chat room for people. Tio, check out s o that completely day one, folks, thank you so much for joining us and let's all give lee a big round of applause. Thank you! And on to tomorrow.