Portrait Photo Retouching
As photographers, it is our duty to capture the ‘perfect shot’ during a photo session. Nevertheless, there will always be flaws and imperfections within the frame. Fortunately, with today’s advanced technology, we are able to achieve the desired image that we want through post-production. Although we might think we got the perfect shot, it can still be enhanced and that’s where the magic of ‘portrait retouching’ comes in.
Wondering how our post-production team from Mount Studio does portrait retouching? Without further ado, here’s a quick rundown on our standard on editing portraits:
Before we begin touching up any part of the skin, we will first take a look at the entire photo. We want to spot the blemishes and elements that we want to fix or remove later on. With this technique, we won’t be skipping areas that need fixing. Above is the image we want to retouch. Let’s begin our tutorial.
Step 1: Skin Retouching
As we want to focus on a particular area to manage workflow, let’s begin with the skin first. Notice how the model has pretty fair skin already. In this part, we ensure not to overdo the retouching by fixing only the areas that we can see and just light changes to other areas.
We begin by removing blemishes and pimple spots on the face with the help of the tools: ‘Spot healing brush tool’ or ‘Patch tool’ and ‘Clone stamp tool’.
Here, we used the clone stamp tool and patch tool to eliminate the spots and blemishes. Keep going until no spots can be seen when zoomed in 100%.
We also want to remove the line around the mouth to make it look pleasing to the eye.
Now the face looks better after we have retouched the circled areas. Afterwards, we’d like to lessen the shine on the forehead and smoothen out the uneven textures in the skin. The easiest technique to fix this is the ‘Frequency Separation’ technique. You can download the photoshop action through here.
Frequency separation, in its simplest terms, action divides your image into 2 layers. These layers are:
High Frequency – Skin details such as pores, lines, acne, scars and stray hairs. These are typically called the high frequencies and in actions are known as the high-frequency layer.
Low Frequency- color, tones, and skin transitions from light to dark are on the second layer and typically called low frequency or color/ tones layer.
By separating the image in this way you can remove blemishes and blend skin color without losing overall skin texture. If done well, it stops the subject from looking artificial and too heavily edited. Let’s work on the frequency separation layers. You will see the ‘high’ and ‘low’ frequency layers. Simply put, high is the texture layer and low is the color/tone layer.
So going back, we want to slightly smoothen the parts of the skin and reduce the shine on the forehead using the frequency layers. Begin with the ‘low’ layer by using the patch tool. Encircle the area you want to fix, then drag it to the skin color you want it to imitate. Keep patching it out until you blend it nice and clean. You’ll notice that it only changed the colors and the skin texture is untouched.
Since we have the frequency separation layers we can also blend out other parts of the skin by the combination of patch and clone stamp tools.
Try playing with the brush and patch tools until you notice the smoothing effect on the skin. If the skin is fairly smooth and clean yet still looks natural we can move on forward.
Step 2: Flyaway / Stray hair
Cleaning up and removing flyaway / stray hair is more challenging than the skin but with enough patience, we can accomplish this task pretty well.
To clean up the stray hairs, our go-to tools are the famous clone stamp tool and patch tool. When cloning, make sure you are aware of the background and consider it when removing these stray hairs. Clone stamp tool is our most recommended tool for the stray hairs on the outer part of the hair. Modify the brush size and hardness based on how sharp the hair textures around it. With proper use of the clone stamp tool, the hair texture will look nice and natural.
Bonus: Hairy edges on the arms & brightening of the ‘reddish thumb’
For this part, we want to also remove the hairs around the edges of the arms with the use of the clone stamp tool. In addition, we would like to brighten and adjust the color of the thumb as it’s not consistent with her skin tone.
Step 3: Creases
The easiest tool for this kind of problem is the patch tool since it fixes big areas quickly and effectively. Remember to avoid the areas with the natural clothing texture.
It should look more or less like the photo above after cloning and patching.
Step 4: Cleaning up the Background
Now we’re moving on to the last process which is cleaning up the background. Some backdrops are not entirely perfect and seamless as there will always be spots and dirt around. In the photo, the background color looks nice but it seems that it has some uneven tones and textures in between. We want to fix that using various tools we know accordingly.
If you take a look above, certain areas are uneven. We can fix it with the help of the patch tool.
Look at the photo above where we already cleaned the background. And done! We have just finished retouching this beautiful portrait.
Bonus: Color Grading using Curves Adjustment
As for our color grading, I tweaked the curves adjustment layer to achieve this look. It made our subject pop out even more. Try to keep the color grading adjustments minimal because we don’t want it to look unnatural.
Photo retouching may seem easy but there are no shortcuts on this process. It is methodological and requires a handful of patience, keen eyes and hard work but once you see the final output, as cliche as it may sound, yes, it is all worth it! Although portrait retouching is challenging, we at Mount Studio find this undeniably fun enhancing photos to reach its full potential.
Moving on, we’ll be sharing our retouching tips for catalog or e-commerce photography. Do stick around till the end of this blog post as it will definitely benefit you!
E-Commerce Photo Retouching
With the continuous rise of e-commerce, it’s undeniably vital to have an appealing and well-presented catalog as it says a lot about the products and services being offered.
Professionally retouched catalog photos are one of the key factors in boosting online sales. The importance of image quality and how it is presented is undoubtedly essential to the business’ success. With this, more and more companies are investing in professional e-commerce photo editing services.
In Mount Studio, we pay close attention to the product to bring out the most in it. In the process, we clean up the photos, remove undesirable elements (e.g., scratches, dust, stains), make color adjustments, and/or remove a background. All that while making sure the photos still look realistic, attractive, and professional.
With that being said, let us show you our post-production workflow:
Step 1: Clean Background Floor Using Spot Healing Brush, Patch, and Clone Stamp
We start by cleaning up the processed raw image from scratches and dust. Our go-to tools are the spot healing brush, patch, and clone stamp.
If we take a look at the photo above, we can see that there is dirt on the floor and we want to remove it by using the patch tool being the fastest tool to remove big dirts. To erase this, encircle it around then drag it to the clean part. Just keep doing it and switch between different tools depending on the size and type of the dirt. We normally use spot healing tool to eliminate tiny distractions. After everything has been cleaned up, we can proceed to the next part.
Step 2: Reduce Creases on Clothing
In the photo above, we want to polish the clothing creases to make it look more presentable. In order to reduce the creases, we usually use the clone stamp tool.
When using the clone tool, make sure you clone using the source just around the crease area. We normally don’t remove the entire crease as it will look unnatural.
Step 3: Correct Clothing Color with Hue/Saturation Tool
Afterwards, we move on to color correction. First and foremost, we need to have a reference on the preferred clothing color to ‘correct’ our subject. For better viewing, we place the original and the reference photo side by side. There are different tools that can help us fix this problem. Let’s focus on the easiest and most effective tool which is the Hue/Saturation tool.
Now, to modify the colors, we need to identify first which color we want to change it to. For this particular image, it’s Cyan. Begin clicking the hand icon shown in the above photo and start dragging the Hue & Saturation sliders until it matches the color reference.
With all the changes applied, colors are adjusted accordingly to match the reference color. If in case the photo you are retouching has Cyans in other areas that you don’t want to be changed just mask it out with the brush tool.
That’s it! We have just finished retouching our catalog photo.
High-quality presentation of catalog photos with the help of expert photo retouching is remarkably essential to the growth of your e-commerce. You don’t wanna miss out on potential sales just because we didn’t invest in good photography and production. Market your products better with better catalog photos.
We have invested in advanced tools and technology as well as having an expert post-production team to excellently handle your professionally taken photos. Let us do it for you!