Tuesday , December 5 2023
Do you want to retouch portraits?

Book Review: Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop by Scott Kelby

Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques is not a book for those who are retouchers or who want to be professional retouchers. It is a book for photographers who either don’t have the time to send their work out, or can’t afford to send them out to professionals and need to learn how to do it themselves. In most cases, a photographer is paid for shooting and not for retouching. All the same, the quality of retouching must be high.

The goal of Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques is to teach you how to be better, faster, and get more realistic results from your own retouching. For most of your work, you do not need every technique that a professional would need to know and so this book concentrates on the ones that you do.

Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques is 384 pages in length and is contained in seven chapters.

Chapter 1, “Naked Eyes,” begins with the work of retouching the eyes. Since they are the window to the soul, and the fact that so many things can be done to them, this chapter is one of the largest in the book and will teach many techniques to bring the best out of the eyes.

In this chapter you will learn how to do things like increase the contrast in the iris, adding more life to the eyes, enhance or create catch lights, and brightening the whites of the eyes. You will also see how to remove veins in the eyes, making eyes larger or smaller, enhance eyelashes, work with eyebrows, and sharpening eyes to make them sparkle.

Chapter 2, “Under My Skin,” next concentrates on working with the skin. There are many ways that you can mess up skin texture and quality and these techniques will help you overcome these problems.

Techniques here include removing blemishes, how to avoid plastic-looking skin, various ways to soften skin, removing wrinkles, and removing hot spots. Included as well is how to balance skin tone, reduce stubble, apply digital make up, creating porcelain-looking skin, and sharpening portraits.

Chapter 3, “Face to Face,” now looks on the face as a whole. Sometimes it may be the model or the client who says that there is a feature that is too large (or small) who will cue you in on something that needs adjusting, or it may be just painfully obvious that a feature can’t be adjusted in the camera.

For this you will begin with techniques to reshape the face and head. These are used when you need to adjust cheeks, chin, ears, or even the head itself. Next you will see how to make things on the face look more symmetrical as when one eye is higher than the other, or the nose may be crooked. Finally you will see how to add depth and dimension to the face through the use of dodging and burning for a much more pleasing look.

Chapter 4, “Hair,” can be a difficult thing to work with because of all the different types, the fact that it won’t always fall in place exactly where you want it to, and the inconsistencies due to color. This chapter shows you how to fix and adjust all of these issues.

You start with adding highlights to hair to add more depth and dimension. Then you see how to remove those distracting stray hairs that always seem to be missed when looking through the camera. Gaps in the hair are also a pretty tricky touch-up item that you will learn how to fix. You will also see how to change the color of the hair, how to darken a part line, and how to hide roots.

Chapter 5, “Lipps Inc,” next gets into techniques of working with lips, and in general, the mouth area. As with the eyes, having the proper size and shape to the lips and mouth can bring out a lot in a portrait. Here you start with making the lips larger to give them more appeal.

Then you move to creating glossy lips to really bring them out. You will also learn how to “apply” as well as enhance the existing lipstick. Finally, you will see how to change the shade of lip color, repair unaligned or broken teeth, as well as how to whiten and reduce yellowing in the teeth.

Chapter 6, “Slim Shady,” will show you how to use techniques for slimming and trimming your clients. If done correctly these kinds of tricks will have your customers coming back for more.

In this chapter you will take on overall slimming, the ability to slim one person in a group shot, and techniques to reduce a double chin as well as how to thin the face. Next is working to thin the arms and legs, working the abs to take them up a notch, as well as fixing clothing problems such as lumps, bagging, and folds.

Chapter 7, “Taking Five,” finishes up with a blend of useful information based on what you have already learned to take you from shot to finished in 5, 15, and 30 minutes. As a photographer, you don’t have the hours that a professional retoucher would have to complete a job.

Here, you begin with a retouching checklist that gives you a guidepost to guide you though you’re retouching journey. Then you start the five minute retouch which you would use when you have a bunch of images to get done quickly. The 15-minute retouch is useful for your average shoot where you need to process five or six images. The 30-minute retouch is where you have a few images that must be of really perfect quality.

Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques is really packed with a ton of extremely useful information right at your fingertips. It is laid out in the pretty routine, but yet well organized manner that makes a Kelby book so easy to use. It has full color pictures, step-by-step instructions, and before and after results. It also contains that same kind of humor that one expects from the author – the kind you either like or hate.

I like the fact that the author makes the images in the book available for download so that you can work along to make sure that you are getting the same results. But what I like best is that after all is said and done, the chapter “Taking Five” really puts it all together. With the checklist, and the three different workflows, you now have a battle plan to make it all work together.

Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques is also the kind of reference book that you will have on your shelf for years. Depending on the type of work that you do, initially you will probably only use a certain percentage of the techniques found here, but over time you will continue to pick it up to learn new tricks of the trade. If you want to learn how to efficiently retouch your own portrait photos, then Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques is really a must-have book.

About T. Michael Testi

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

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