Photoshop Basic Retouching
When I'm working with basic Photoshop, I'm just gonna work out of Finder here. Sometimes I'll use Adobe Bridge to sort, but with only four images it's not necessary. So we'll open this image within Photoshop, and my Photoshop is not anything too complex. So the first thing I'm gonna do is crop this image. I tend to use the crop tool quite a bit in Photoshop, because I don't use it in Capture One. I'm not setting any constraints to this crop, I'm just kinda cropping it by feel. So, you know, we'll call that good. Again, there's our image. The first thing I do in Photoshop with every image is just a little bit of basic cleanup. So, whether there was censor dust, which this one appears pretty clean, I did just give my censor a little swipe yesterday, so it's better than it was, it was looking a little fuzzy. Now we're gonna go in an clean up skin. This is also not the sharpest image I've ever shot, which, that happens too. But when I'm editing skin, the first thing I do is I go down to ei...
ther the patch tool or the healing brush. So we'll do a little bit of both just to show you the difference. With the healing brush, again, I make a new background layer. So, two ways to do that. You can either go layer, new layer, and then layer from background. Oops, sorry, I did that wrong. Well, or you can just hit command + J, how about that? That's your new background layer. So, with a new background layer, the reason why I like working on that is because then, if I don't like the adjustments, I can either mask them out or get rid of the layer altogether, or if I'm overdoing it, I can lower the opacity of that background layer and blend it with the original layer. So, with the healing brush selected, you just wanna find, you know, let's say you wanna clear up a couple spots. We'll, you know, for things like lines in this, that would not be something. That would be something we'll use the patch tool more for. But any type of spots, so she has a couple spots on her cheek. You're just selecting where you're pulling a nice patch of skin from, so say you wanna select this area where it's nice clean skin, and you wanna get rid of this, whether it's a blemish, a mole, whatever it is that you're trying to get rid of. You just wanna find a place with nice clean skin, pull from there, and then apply it to the area that you're trying to fix. So, again, I don't generally remove moles or things like that, I leave that up to the clients, but for purposes of education, we're gonna remove a few of those. So I'm hitting option, clicking an area of clean skin, now going up over to where I want to remove, and by having a new background layer, we can see, if you look at her face in this area, we can see what I've removed. And if you think, oh I want, I don't want it completely gone, that's where you can go in and adjust the opacity of that layer, or even mask it back in later. So we'll just leave that as is. To flatten that image, you're just gonna go on the top layer. So anytime you start adding more layers, you start adding to that file size. I'm okay with this. There's nothing I'm gonna wanna go back and change later. So we're just gonna flatten that. So to merge layer one with your background, you're just gonna click on layer one. You can either go to layer, flatten image, merge down, or the shortcut I prefer to use is command + E, which then flattens that. There are so many shortcuts within Photoshop that I rarely even use any of the menu items up here. I just know the shortcuts that I use on a day to day basis. We're gonna hit command + J, make a new background layer, and we're gonna switch to the patch tool. And I wanna get rid of these lines on her neck. So this is where you would select that entire line, and pull down to clean skin, and there you go. Just to see, before and after. So that's gone, gonna do the same thing here. Get rid of that, we'll do just some general smoothing here to clean up any issues of shadow or blotchiness that happened from the first round of editing. So now you can see, before and after. It just cleaned up the neck skin a little bit. Zooming out, that's about as close as anyone's ever gonna view it. It's just a clean file. We're gonna hit command + E and merge that down. So generally speaking, I would go through and do that to any troubled areas within skin. I am pretty conservative when it comes to editing skin. I like to leave a lot of natural, you know, whether it's aging, whether it's, you know, just general wear from life. I like to leave that there, because I like my subjects to appear real and human. I'm not a beauty photographer, I'm a portrait photographer. Generally speaking, it's a lot of people on location in their environment, so I feel like, you know, that skin tone or that skin texture reflects kind of on their life, or more about them. So, unless there's specific requests from the client, I generally polis up the skin a little bit, because I don't want anything that is distracting, but at the same time, I want it to look natural and real. So I'm okay with this right now. The next thing I would do is, I do not like distracting elements, so, you know, we have some flyaway hairs and things like that, so we're gonna make a new background layer. I'm gonna go to the clone stamp tool, which is S as a shortcut. And, to make the brush larger or smaller, you can use the bracket keys on your keyboard. So the bracket on the left makes it smaller, bracket on the right makes it larger. We're gonna make a fairly small clone stamp brush here. And now we have opacity and flow. So I'm not gonna get too much into how those work. We're just gonna lower the opacity to about 70 percent. And I'm gonna clean up a couple of these flyaway hairs. So we have a pretty consistent background as far as color. You can option click off to the side, and you can use the patch tool to do this as well, but we're gonna use the clone tool. So we're gonna pick a nice clean area of the background, hit option, click there, and now we're gonna start cleaning up some of those flyaway hairs. And again, you'll see, it's not the smoothest transition, so that's where you might wanna come in later with your patch tool, clean up that edge a little bit to give a nice smooth, 'cause cloning is literally that. It's cloning, it's direct pulling where patch tool is sampling. So it'll do a little better job on transitions. The one time you always wanna use clone instead of patch is, let's say you wanted to get rid of, and I don't know why you would, but let's say you wanted to get rid of this little shadow here. Since it's so close to a line of contrast, if you were to use patch tool, and let's say you wanted to get rid of that, you're still gonna have, it's sampling, so it's pulling pixels from both sides, so you went from dark to light, so it's still gonna look like a shadow. I mean, you can see, it didn't really do what we want. So this is an area where you would definitely use the clone tool, because that's literally cloning it. So we would come up here, let's say we just want that to look like skin tone, we'll hit option, select an area just below, and now we can start painting in. And that's giving us a pretty hard edge. What you can do if you want a softer edge, go up, turn the opacity down. I like to clone somewhere around 25 percent. I'm not really picky with the numbers, 27 is close enough. And you can brush over it multiple times. That'll give you a little softer edge, but you won't have to worry about the sampling issues that happen from the patch tools. You can see here, we're getting rid of that shadow. Again, there's no real reason to do this, other than teaching you about cloning near edge of high contrast. And that's, generally speaking, that happens a lot of times when you're cloning around the edges of a hairline. So you can see, we cleaned that up. I'm gonna get rid of it, 'cause I don't really need to do that in the first place. But at least now you know. Kinda part of my process. Again, we have some more flyaways here. Whether you wanna use the clone tool, which is S, or the patch tool, which is actually shortcut J, so whatever the last tool you've selected, if it were healing brush, that's gonna be the same J shortcut. But I'm gonna go to patch tool and clean up a few of these flyaways. So we're just, again, the sampling's fine, 'cause we're not in a high contrast area here, so we're just getting rid of a few flyaways. And again, this is just because I'm a little bit picky about distracting elements and things that, you know, sometimes, at the early part of the shoot, hairspray might be good, everything might be holding, but as people move around and you shoot, these type of things happen. And you can't just keep stopping a shoot to fix up these little things when you could easily fix them afterwards in Photoshop. So there we go, we cleaned up a few of the flyaways. I'm gonna go ahead and back out. I'm not gonna do too much more to the skin. This one hair right here is definitely distracting, so this is gonna be a little bit of a combination. We're gonna use the clone tool at a lower opacity. We'll create yet another new background layer. I always like to work from a new one when I'm doing big changes like this, because if I do screw it up, it's easy to go back and fix. So we're gonna up the opacity, just 'cause that's gonna take forever. We'll go in and lower it when we get the main chunk of hair here removed. So we're just getting rid of all that. Softly blend that in. We'll go in with the patch tool, make sure there isn't any hard edges. There doesn't appear to be, this looks pretty good, pull out a good background sample. So there's just one way to quickly remove that patch of hair. And again, you can merge down hitting command + E. Combine those layers, and there you go. We got a nice image to start here. So it's cleaned up. We got rid of, if there were any dust or anything on the background, there wasn't, but if there were, use the patch tool or healing. Any obvious skin issues, patch tool, clone tool, healing. Stray hairs and any details, her shirt, I know she had talked about steaming it right before she came out, but you wouldn't believe how many clients or subjects I photograph that have the most wrinkled shirts. So that's another area where the patch tool and the healing and the clone tool are important for getting rid of a lot of unwanted wrinkles on shirts or lines or stains or whatever it may be. So we're at a pretty good point here where I'll start adjusting a couple other things. So the next thing I wanna do is sharpen this image. I mentioned that you can sharpen in Capture One. I don't do that. I actually do all my sharpening within Photoshop. So how I do that, new background layer, Command + J. I go up to filter, I go down to other and I select the high pass filter. I set this to about three-and-a-half pixels. It saves it 'cause I've done it last time. And you'll see, it turns your image completely gray. It almost looks like some sort of etching. And the radius is 3.5 pixels. Hit okay. We are not done, I just wanna zoom in so you can see. Now we're gonna change the blend mode of this new layer to soft light. So you can see how much sharper that is. It's actually too sharp. If you look at the hair, it's starting to get a little pixellated. I then go back to the opacity, that layer, and I tone it down, so there's zero. I'm gonna slowly ramp that up. We're gonna go to about, maybe 40 percent. And so that's the sharpening I do to every image. I actually have that set as an action, and the only thing left to select is the opacity of the image. So it's pretty easy to do, and that's how I do all my sharpening. The only other thing I would do on this image is I would make sure that it's maxed out in contrast. So remember when I was talking about adjusting the shadows and highlights in Capture One? One of the things I like to do is start off with a file that isn't at too much contrast, because I like to add it afterwards. So how I do that is in levels. So we'll open our levels, adjustment layer here in Photoshop, and you can see, generally speaking, this is a darker image, so our histogram reads pretty far on the left side here showing that it's dark. It does, however, come to touch the edge of the histogram on the right side. So that's showing that the highlights are near the edge of 255, so almost blown out. This is an image that might not be the best example of that because I can't push the contrast much further without it being blown out. Just to show you, as we move that slider, the highlights are going to start getting brighter. And we're definitely losing detail within the skin, especially on the forehead. The other way to add contrast is to grab this middle slider and adjust it to your right. So that's just changing the midpoint of the levels. So you can see, that'll start darkening the image. It's actually just, it's not darkening as a whole, it's adding contrast. So you can see, if you get it back to 1.00, that's the standard setting right in the center. So this image doesn't have a lot of leeway or additional contrast, but I always like to make sure my images are maxed out with contrast, especially black and whites. I cannot stand when I see a black and white that looks like it's more black and gray, or that muddy black and white, so at the end of every black and white I make, I go into levels and make sure that it has a true white and a true black, so we have the full range of maximum contrast. So, then with this image, what I would do next is you could either hit command + S to save it. I do that quite a bit. I save it as a level 10 JPEG, SRGB and the works. If I wanna save a secondary version, save for low-res for a client, I might come up here and we'll say, oh, we want a 1200 pixel tall at 72 DPI JPEG. So it automatically will keep the same aspect ratio, double click to crop, file, save as. And this is where we can go back to our folder structure, and we can throw that in the low-res. So it'll keep the same name. The only thing I do is, on the end of the naming, I put LR. This happened, several years ago I was coming out with a new portfolio, and I did a bonehead mistake. I was designing the whole portfolio. I didn't have LR on the end of one of the images and I put a low-res image into a print portfolio. And you can imagine how bad that looked, it was all pixellated, not my best work. So now, anytime I'm saving something low-res, I put LR on the end of the file name just so I can instantly recognize that it's low-res. And when I'm sending client files or having my assistant send client files, she'll know, through email, just to send the low-res so they can get a quick look. Again, so back to our folder structure. We have our captures, we have our output. Those were the JPEGs, the high-res JPEGs. We have our low-res. Selects would be if you hear back from a client and they want certain images retouched further. I throw all those in the selects. And then trash happens, just by anything you delete straight out of Capture One, it'll end up in the trash. So it doesn't truly delete it. It'll end up in this folder, so that way if you ever wanna go back, if someone has a request for more images that you initially thought might be trash, you can always go back and find those, and they'll be in that trash folder. So that's my general folder structure for anything that I'm shooting tethered. If I'm only shooting to card, it looks a little different, but it's generally the same becasue I like to keep it consistent and cohesive just for purposes of sanity and being able to find files.