The Business of Professional Photo Retouching


The Business of Professional Photo Retouching


Lesson Info

Comp vs Finish

This is something that I think is really important because it is hiccup we get in our industry a lot so I want to do some definitions here. What is a comp versus a finish? So this is a comp I did for the Diary of a Teenage Girl and a comp is when you come up with an idea rough and quick. So if you actually look in here, well actually I'm pretty good at Photoshop so you're probably not going to see too many mistakes, but... Ooh, did you see me? Ooh, listen to this one. There's mistakes in this paneling 'cause this is off of a wall so there's, I mean right in here, look at that, what the heck is that? It's terrible. But it doesn't matter. It was selling an idea. So that is what a comp is. A comp is a composition, it's quick, it's fast, it's to sell an idea. Tell them how many per day these folks are asked, or expected to have. Okay, so a comp artist often is asked to do at least three comps a day but a comp could be a single big head in the sky with a scene or a comp could be 12 ...

people in a scene with a big huge build. They vary. And we're going to talk a little bit about comps later in terms of time, and rates. But, then a finish happens. And a finish is, they've looked at 100, 200 comps, they've made their decision, they like it, they hire someone, and they hired someone else unfortunately, my comp but they hired someone else to finish this file, and then everything's worked out perfectly. And you'll se differences because decisions are made, scale size, color, whatnot, but what I'm trying to stress is a difference between a comp and a finish because when we talk about estimating jobs you need to know are you estimating for a comp, because the rate is different, the time is different, the detail is different. Or a finish? Cool? In your big design firms, what would you guess the most comps built for one single one sheet would've been? Geez I'm not sure I can answer that. So the question is how many comps for a movie poster, like for a movie, I think, I don't have exact numbers here so don't quote me on it, but I'm gonna guess for one of the Spider-Mans it was well over 1000. Well over 1000. You tell folks that and they're like, "Really, why don't you just make the posters--" 1000 comps. 1000 different ideas. Many people, many man hours, lots of, woof. Yeah, anyway. So this is going to illustrate a little bit more of a comp. So with a comp, you're not worried about every little bit. Look at the masking of the trees, it's god awful, there's holes, it's quick mass select. Edges, outside of bleed area are not considered. You know are you lighting your, what do you call it, street lamp, it's down and dirty. And then the finish you have to go back in and finish it high-res. Now one of the things, see little box, edges finished, masked well. One of the things you'll notice in entertainment in particular, people are comping with low-res sky. That sky is the same sky as in there and you have to do some tricks to try to fake sharpen, and add because the files are so low-res. So sometimes when you look at a comp and a finish it'll be hard to discern how, this is a blow up of a section so that's why it is all bit mapped, it's a little hard to discern what the difference is in some of the elements and that's only cause they were low-res to begin with. There never was a high-res. And, what else do I want to say about that? Anyway, so I hope this illustrates the difference between a comp and a finish and as we talk we'll get more into that. Comping, do you do much comping? These days no, but I have gone years doing it. So I got a job at a great big motion picture advertising and I was brought in every day and probably finished in four years maybe four pieces. And I'm a finish artist getting paid finishing rates. They just wanted me on staff so when they were driving to work and they came up with the idea and they just speak it into their phone they come in and go "Hey we got three ideas and we want you, "here, go figure them out". And that was often times without any photography to work with. So I got pretty good at figuring out where images were coming from without shooting them. Yes, so let's talk about that for a second. Hired guns. Remember I said earlier we are hired guns? Another business decision some folks may choose to make when they are doing jobs, is once you have your comps primarily done or ready, sometimes you might want to consider hiring a big gun to come in and tighten them up at the end. So he will get hired to come in to an agency and tighten up the comps. So they've already come up with their ideas but you know bad masking, or no highlight, rim edges, sharpening, effects, color effects, and for a relatively low cost you can get a retoucher or finisher to come in and clean up, like do a little magic on top. Why are people doing that? Because people's skills are getting so good the competition. It used to be paste up. Do you remember? Yeah yeah. Paste up. Comps used to be cut out paper. And glue, and Xeroxes. And kinda this is sorta the idea, "Do you want it, yes? "Okay, do a photoshoot. "Okay, now we're gonna build it." Well anymore you've gotta have a pretty finished product just to get the sign off in the first place. Yeah? That's it. Excellent. Alright, yes ma'am? Question from Phil Jones who says, "For comps are you guys using Photoshop, InDesign, "some other programs, when you're doing the comps?" Most often Photoshop. I'll bet I work in Photoshop 99% of the time. Yeah rarely do I go outside of it. And even if it's a better idea to step into like Illustrator for some type or some path work, I'm so versed in Photoshop that I can get that happening while I'm busy in Photoshop rather than step out of it, open up another application and then import and export and all of that stuff. I would say it's a speed thing. Because if all the type's in Photoshop, it's not proper, it's not how you would properly do it, but it's 100% a speed thing. You want to be able to get through, run them through, print them, get them out, get them approved of, fix this, la la la la la, then at the end, you'll do a final finish in Photoshop and the type will be done in Illustrator and InDesign. Great. Cool? So no more cutting out of all of the-- No, actually no no no I'm gonna tell you what's interesting is traditional media now, people miss it so much that you'll see design agencies where they are actually building sets, and lighting things on fire, and shooting pictures of it, and then making a comp out of it because we miss it so much. We miss the cutting and pasting. On the back of Vogue. Yeah.

Class Description

Create your own retouching business from the ground up. In this class, one of Hollywood¹s hottest retouchers reveals the secrets to designing your own business. Lisa Carney walks through the steps needed to start and run a smooth business while keeping your clients engaged and happy. Whether you’re looking to work with photographers, agencies or even bill for post production - you’re bound to find valuable insight into the world of photo retouching.

This class covers:

  • Defining the type of retoucher you want to be
  • Solutions for the problems you’ll encounter on shoots and in post production
  • Communication techniques for clients
  • Secrets for setting realistic expectations from markups through revisions
  • Pricing your services and handling billing issues
  • Emergency tips for when jobs go off the rails

Get the inside scoop from a true insider. You’ll finish this class knowing how to construct a profitable photo retouching business model AND develop the tools to sustain it.