A well-thought out strategy for any given retouching task is always preferable to a lot of fiddling and messing

about. Good retouching requires clever thinking and planning, more than elbow grease. The more techniques you know, the better you can choose between them, and make decisions that will save time as well as giving a more optimal, even result. This is not a how-to tutorial, but provides some essential ground rules for retouching. For actual tutorials on retouching, see: www.grygarness.com/photoshop/advancedphotoshop. htm

Not all views are good for retouching. 100% is always the best judging view, as it is the only “true” view of the pixels. But 100% may not always be the most practical working view, and you may work at 50%, 200%, 400% 800% and even 1600% in rare cases. Notice that there’s a pattern to these views, and that views like 600% or 66.7% are not mentioned. This is because the “odd” proxy views tend to scramble the view of the pixels on screen. Start with getting the colours as clean and correct as possible, but leave the creative colour work for later. Clean colours naturally sharpen the image and will reveal all the flaws you need to retouch, so they won’t come as a surprise later. Also clean up any dust and scratches, so you can get on with the creative work without having to interrupt it with general cleaning. If the subject is quite bright, make a (removable) darkening adjustment layer, which will reveal any flaws in the image, and more importantly, any flaws introduced in the retouching. Panning the image with the space bar also helps reveal flaws in otherwise smooth areas. Over-retouching is the most common mistake, and the art of retouching is making it seem perfect but natural. It’s the many small things that come together to make a face look great. It’s not necessarily the big dramatic move that makes perfection. Make a quick retouching plan on a separate blank layer, and try to stick to it. Retouching on a duplicate layer lets you turn it off to view the original underneath. Of course, it also gives you a safety net. Work editably and give yourself a safety-net in every situation. Use Snapshots, layers, history brush and use masks instead of eraser. If you have many small layers that together

form a compositional element (e.g. an eye or a building) consider joining them together in a Group. A Layer Group can also be masked off, so that you’re in effect masking off several layers together. It’s easy to generate too many layers, and to lose track of them. It also helps to name the layers. Whatever you do, always bear in mind that each element should be reversible without too much trouble. Even if you work with layers, the History Brush can provide an additional safety net when embarking on some tricky work with the Clone Stamp tool and Healing Brush. Mark the History Source box of the present history state before you start some tricky cloning, and using the History Brush tool to reverse it exactly where it went wrong, or to reduce its effect in areas. Snapshots are a good way of marking the progression of a retouching task, and can be referred to as History Sources. Click on the Snapshot button in the History Palette at every significant stage in the process (but don’t go completely wild, as it takes up memory). If you’re using the History Brush to borrow from a snapshot, you have to make sure you’re on the right layer, and indeed a layer that existed when you took the snapshot you’re borrowing from. The History Brush won’t work if the layer or image has been transformed or resized. Work in 16-bit at your peril for complex retouching tasks, especially on big images. Yes, 16-bit may be ideal, but it actually matters most at the stage where you do the major colour correction. In a complex retouching scenario, the file size will often increase five-fold when you include all the layers, alphachannels and layer masks. A normal file that starts out at 8-bit 50 mb will easily grow to 250 mb. In 16-bit the image layers will be twice as “heavy” but it’s the adjustment layers and their masks that make a huge difference in file size. You’ll inevitably be working on files of over a gigabyte. In the

©gry garness 2007 www.grygarness.com T: +44 7973 832 033 No unauthorized copying or reproduction of this tutorial or its content.

end, all transforms take forever, screen redraws slow down, saving becomes a drag, even with the faster processors and lots of RAM. And the filter that you thought you might try for something special is unavailable. It’s one of those grrrh situations. My advice: Finish the colour corrections first, flatten the image (or a copy) and convert to 8-bit before you start retouching. Large soft brushes are much softer and have a much bigger fall-off than small brushes of the same (per se) softness. If you have a soft brush and you want to mask into a pointy crevice or corner, don’t attempt to change the brush size to fit into it. Instead, keep the same size brush, and paint over the crevice. Then paint off the overspill with the opposite colour (usually black or white). Learn to master the Gradient tool for masking in/out colour corrections, creating smooth blends between comp’ed layers, nothing can beat it. It paints smoother than any user, and used cleverly, is a great time-saver. The second gradient - which uses Foreground to Transparency, will let you drag several times in different directions without canceling out the previous ones. Learn to master the Pen Tool, and make open and closed vector paths, which can be used as selections or to stroke or mask off a layer. For cutting out subjects that cannot be extracted with plugins or masked because the colour is too similar, nothing beats a clean well-defined path. The Pen tool can also be used for making a path that can be stroked with any of the painting tools. Great for anything where you need an even coverage along a line and your hand just isn’t steady enough! When comp’ing, make sure that the sources for the different elements are as similar as possible in quality, with similar amounts of noise, resolution and sharpness. If it’s too dissimilar, it can be hard to rectify later. You generally have to match the inferior quality in noise and sharpness, so be careful what you bring into the image.

A FEW LINKS You got this tutorial from: www.grygarness.com/tutorials.asp Info on 1-1 Photoshop training with Gry Garness: www.grygarness.com/photoshop/advancedphotoshop.htm See Gry’s retouching before & after-images www.grygarness.com/retouching/retouching1.htm www.grygarness.com/retouching/retouching2.htm www.grygarness.com/retouching/retouching3.htm Upgrade your computer memory www.crucial.com Check out new software www.versiontracker.com Quickly test your colour vision: www.toledo-bend.com/colorblind/Ishihara.html Colour papers & free profiles www.colourtools.co.uk/ (click on consumables) Cheap & good print viewing lights www.outsidein.co.uk/solux.htm

©gry garness 2007 www.grygarness.com T: +44 7973 832 033 No unauthorized copying or reproduction of this tutorial or its content.

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