Portrait retouching is both a skill and an art form. The skill is the “how-to” of knowing the techniques to remove blemishes, minimize wrinkles, improve skin textures and contour facial features, fine-tune lighting, and remove distracting backgrounds. The art form aspect demonstrates a trained eye, delicate hand, and the intuition to know what to accentuate and what to minimize to best communicate the subject’s character and personality. The final result should always appear natural with the retouching indiscernible.
This project, retouching and color correction for the book cover, The MD Factor Diet: A Physician’s Proven Diet for Metabolism Correction and Healthy Weight Loss by Dr. Caroline Cederquist M.D. incorporated two of my favorite imaging tasks: portrait retouching and the challenge of executing an impeccable silo.
Creating a Book Cover
Let’s first look at the Photoshop work required specifically for the book design. The top of the woman’s head (the author) sits above the orange bar. A layer mask was necessary to silo the hair and remove the background so the graphic could be placed behind the woman’s head.
Masking hair can be tricky. A cut-out, choppy looking silo is a sure sign of unskilled or rushed Photoshop work.
Crafting a well-executed mask that includes hair can take a fair amount of time. The wispiness and color of the hair, the complexity of the original background, and the color of the new background, all factor into the difficulty of creating a flawless silo.
The second task that was required for the cover design was simply to remove the the label on the lab coat pocket. A minor adjustment, but nonetheless, it’s an important detail to remove visual clutter that would have interfered with the text on the bottom bar.
All portrait retouching assignments should be approached with the same goal: making the subject look like the best, well-rested and well-lit version of themselves. The amount of portrait retouching required for this photo was minimal. A few tweaks to the color and lighting was all that was needed.
Lighting that is flattering to the contours of the face is never flattering to veins in the hands. Moreover, veins are seldom apparent in-person, but always jump out in photographs. By toning down the color of the veins, and minimizing the shadowing, they no longer draw attention, while still appearing natural.
Window to the Soul
Retouching eyes requires a delicate hand. The right eye needed a slight lighting adjustment—it was a tad to dark. To achieve the results shown in the “After” photo, I separately contoured the white of the eye, the iris, and the eyelid.
Finally, to complete the portrait, a slight color adjustment was made to the skin tone and hair. I moved the color away from a cool cast to more warmer tones.
Every Portrait is Unique
Whether it’s a portrait for the cover of a book, or a photo for the family photo album, a good retoucher recognizes every portrait is unique. A portrait retoucher shouldn’t work when they are tired, distracted, or rushed. When working on someone’s face, care and attention must always be given.
In bringing both the art and skill of portrait retouching to a project, the result will be a portrait that accentuates the positive, minimizes the distractions, and communicates the subject’s character and personality.
More Portrait Retouching Examples
To view more portrait retouching Before /After examples, visit the Portrait Retouching porfolio.
About The Project
This project was produced in collaboration Mayerchak & Company, a print production service company that specializes in production for fine art books, textbooks, magazines, newsletters, reports, catalogs, directories, and maps, charts and graphs.
Cover Photography: Erik Kellar
Interested in purchasing the book? Here’s the link to The MD Factor Diet on Amazon.
© Martha DiMeo 2016
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ChromaQueen.com, a photo editing services company, specializes in photo retouching, color correction, and color management consulting for books, magazines, art publishers, and marketing, and advertising clients.