Skin Retouching – I’m converted
In general, I tend to keep my retouching to a minimum. A large portion of this is because I’m a particularly lazy person, but also because I try to get as much done in camera as I can so as to avoid effort later on. Generally my edits are restricted to adjustments in contrast, sharpening and some colour corrections. Obviously from time to time there’s some additional retouching required for skin blemishes etc. but one thing I hate and avoid in my images is the “glamour skin blur” look, where skin starts to look more like plastic than skin. Skin should look like skin and I’ve found that most techniques which are based around blurring produce unsatisfactory results. Well tonight, I’m converted
Today I was forwarded the link to the “Portraiture” plugin for Adobe Photoshop, by ImageNomic. I was sceptical at first, but having downloaded a trial version and pushing some examples through it using more or less the default options, I’ve been blown away by the results
The three images above are the same shot at different stages of post processing. The one on the left is the original capture and is a direct RAW to JPG conversion with no adjustments what so ever apart from resizing (using bicubic sharpen – so some sharpening is applied).
The middle image, is the image I originally retouched. The global adjustments to it were some contrast adjustments, primarily using local contrast enhancement via unsharp masking. This was followed by some colour adjustments, mainly a desaturation of the red channel. After that I probably spent about an hour using the healing brush, patch tool and dodge and burn tools to retouch the skin, removing as many of the blemishes as I could. Finally selective sharpening was applied to the models eyes, hair and lips. All in all, I was pretty pleased with the results, certainly enough to post the image on my gallery and blog.
However, I then passed the image through the Portraiture plugin to see what it could do for it and I was blown away by the results. On the medium healing setting, using all the default values it dumped out a superb result (IMO). The plugin was smart enough to effect mainly the skin, although I did use a mask to brush back in certain areas. But what amazed me most was the detail it left whilst still removing blemishes.
I’ve included 3 images at 100% crop so you can see each of the variants. Looking at the top variant, which is the output from the Portrait plugin, you can see how much detail is left. The pours still look like pores The plugin isn’t cheap and these are very preliminary results, but so far I think I’ll be parting with my hard earned cash when the trial period ends.