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Video Training Review: Beyond Skin: Going Deeper With Photoshop CS3 With Lee Varis From Lynda.com.

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Doing photographic portraits, while rewarding, can also be a challenging skill to master. To do it professionally can take years to perfect and having the right post-processing skills and enhancement techniques are a must. In Beyond Skin: Going Deeper With Photoshop CS3, Lee Varis uses Photoshop CS3 to bring out the best in photos of people, faces, and bodies. He examines tone and contrast, color correction, retouching, and much, much more.

Your trainer for this library is Lee Varis. Lee Varis is the owner of Varis PhotoMedia, and has worked with photography and computer imaging for the last few decades. He combines digital and conventional photography with computer graphics to create images for use in advertising, commercial graphics, and multimedia. Lee's work has been featured in movie posters, on video box covers, CD covers, and in numerous brochures and catalogs.

Lee has developed a unique approach to photography that takes advantage of certain idiosyncrasies of digital capture technology to create impossible lighting effects. Lee has written several books, including Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies (Sybex) This library is divided into 29 lessons in two volumes and runs four and a half hours. I will break this review down by functional areas. You can see the full lesson listing at the bottom of this review.

Volume 1: The Basics

"The workspace" begins the lessons by showing you around the Photoshop CS3 environment, how to arrange and make custom palette arrangements, customized menus, and other tips to make your use of Photoshop much more comfortable.

"Curves" is sometimes considered one of the least understood tools in Photoshop, yet it is one of the more important image adjustment tools. In this section the instructor begins with a grayscale image so you only focus on tone and contrast and not with color. Next you add color to mix. Here you work with threshold adjustment layer to set black and white points to make your balance adjustments. You then move on to using the same techniques for working with skin tones. Once you get the contrasts, then you work for the most important color in the image; the color of skin. Finally, he finishes up with some speed techniques for streamlining your work.

"The Hue/Saturation command" takes a look at a different problem — getting the red out. This is helpful when trying to get the red tones out of the skin tones. This is done by using the hue/saturation adjustment layer. Varis then ties the curve techniques to the hue/saturation adjustments to complete this section.

"Basic retouching" takes you through the process of retouching images and the tools that are needed to fix images. These include the Healing Brush, the Patch Tool, the Clone Tool, and working with the Dodge and Burn Tools.

"Rebuilding skin" examines what to do when you have to cover up defects. There are times when you have to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. In this case you will learn how to rebuild the skin. This is especially helpful when work with older skin, skin that has seen too much sun, or other problems.

"Depth of field" shows you how to throw the background out of focus. Typically this is done in the camera, but there are times when you need to do it in Photoshop after the fact. This not the usual technique, rather it is one that more accurately emulates the look that you would get in a camera setting.

Volume 2: Advanced Techniques

"Portrait glow" puts together color correction and retouching and adds a soft diffusion glow. Here we step back through many of the same techniques to do a senior portrait, but now with additional tips and trick to make your job easier.

"Basic sharpening" looks at a strategy for sharpening images and covers the basic techniques for getting the clearer images. Also discussed are other sharpening issues such as working with subjects on a plain background, as well as more aggressive sharpening images with motion where not everything is in the same focus.

"Combined tools" works with several tools that we have been previously working with but now combining to make the foreground figure to pull away from the background to give it more shape and effect.

"Black-and-white conversion" takes a color image, beginning with an image of a flower and show how best to make the transition to a black and white image. Here you will learn a number of techniques about the channel structure of color images and how best to take advantage of it.

"Channel mixing" works with channels in the layers and blends them together with layer masks to achieve some interesting effects. Now you will see how to shape your tones by concentrating on the black and white.

"Luminosity blending" changes from manipulating black and white conversions from color, and now applies color changes by using the black and white contrasts. Here you take luminosity and use it to your advantage by changing the tonal structure in the full color image.

"Blending continued" changes things up by this time not using the curves techniques but rather than using hue\saturation, you now use the channels techniques. This you can use when subjects are more saturated and by manipulating channels you get can better results.

"Channels continued" now takes on some other techniques for some more challenging subjects. Here he works on some darker skin using new techniques to achieve better results. You will work with highlights and contrasts to get a dramatic effect.

"Channel mixing wrap-up" finishes up by working on the adjusting the color and contrast by beginning with threshold adjustment and curves adjustment. This time you will see how to work with landscapes instead of people for great results.

I really liked the presentation within this video. While there were times where the techniques were a bit repetitive, I think that it worked for getting the point across and really showing the proper way to accomplish the task. There were no samples with this lesson, which I would have liked, but again the techniques were solid and very important if you need to work with skin and skin tones. I think that Beyond Skin: Going Deeper With Photoshop CS3 is a must view if you are needing to work with skin.

You can get Beyond Skin: Going Deeper With Photoshop CS3 only online. The online training Beyond Skin: Going Deeper With Photoshop CS3 comes in three flavors. A monthly subscription at $25 USD gets you all of the videos that are available online (approximately 30,768 videos on 458 topics at this time) or you can save a little with an annual subscription at $250 USD. A premium subscription at $375 USD per year gets all the videos as well as all of the exercise files. Take note that the exercise files are not included with the monthly or annual subscriptions. They are included only on the DVD and premium subscriptions.

You can use Beyond Skin: Going Deeper With Photoshop CS3 as a training program for the individual student, and it's also good for the college or vocational teacher looking to supplement their educational materials. It is of benefit to anyone who needs help understanding portrait retouching and working with skin. You can also try out some of the lessons for free at Lynda.com.

Beyond Skin: Going Deeper With Photoshop CS3 Lesson Listing:

Volume 1

  • Lesson 1: The workspace
  • Lesson 2 Curves and grayscale images
  • Lesson 3: Curves and color images
  • Lesson 4: Curves and skin tone
  • Lesson 5: Curves techniques
  • Lesson 6: The Hue/Saturation command
  • Lesson 7: Curves and Hue/Saturation
  • Lesson 8: Basic retouching
  • Lesson 9: The Healing brush
  • Lesson 10: The Patch tool
  • Lesson 11: The Clone tool
  • Lesson 12: The Dodge and Burn tools
  • Lesson 13: Rebuilding skin pt. 1
  • Lesson 14: Rebuilding skin pt. 2
  • Lesson 15: Rebuilding skin pt. 3
  • Lesson 16: Rebuilding skin pt. 4
  • Lesson 17: Rebuilding skin pt. 5
  • Lesson 18: Depth of field

Volume 2

  • Lesson 1: Portrait glow
  • Lesson 2: Basic sharpening pt. 1
  • Lesson 3: Basic sharpening pt. 2
  • Lesson 4: Basic sharpening pt. 3
  • Lesson 5: Combined tools
  • Lesson 6: Black-and-white conversion
  • Lesson 7: Channel mixing
  • Lesson 8: Luminosity blending
  • Lesson 9: Blending continued
  • Lesson 10: Channels continued
  • Lesson 11: Channel mixing wrap-up
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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.
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