Best Retouching Software in your experience

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by lindsayadler, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. I am a professional photographer and I do lots of senior portraits... and you know how pimply high school seniors are! I seem to spend sooooo much time retouching. In your experience what is the best software for this. I want realistic effects.
    I am sure this thread must have been discussed before... so feel free to simply redirect me.
    What software do you use? Does it offer a trial use? I need HELP! Thanks
    Lindsay Adler
  2. Well Photoshop if you have to do a lot of retouching on skin etc. I think it's the standard just for openers.
  3. I used Portraiture plugin, but that is only after I have retouched the skin with healing brush, clone brush and/or painting the skin. Then I use Portraiture mildly to smooth out my retouches.
  4. In addition to high end retouching, I also do what I call "production" retouching. For an 8x10 or smaller, your retouching for a senior should only take about 5 minutes per image- from opeing the raw file to saving it ready to print. A simple combination of the healing brush, light cloning, and a soft-light dodge layer should really be all you need for small prints. Larger prints take me more time, but it is only an extended version (more detail) of a regular "production" retouch. Some kids will take more time if their skin is really bad, but your everage senior shouldn't take too long.
    If your retouching is taking your time due to volume, I would consider outsourcing or hiring a retoucher, if only seasonal.
    Photoshop is the only program I use for this sort of thing. You can download the trial version, but I don't see anyone grasping the full benefits of it if they are unfamiliar with it to begin with. Quick retouching that looks real takes time to learn, but it shouldn't ake long to produce.
  5. Lindsay, Photoshop has the broadest range of retouching tools/avenues available. In my experience, you can do as little or as much as you want/need. The biggest downside is a fairly stiff learning curve. By range, I mean the ability to blur, clone, desaturate (red spots especially), etc.
    There are a lot of plug-ins for Photoshop, a lot of learning support, and integrated tools available such as WACOM drawing tablets.
    Wolf, I'm not sure how your comment relates to the question, but I don't see it as being very helpful. Unless you have a more workable business model you'd care to share with us.
  6. Lindsay, Photoshop is available as a free trial. I forgot to mention that. It's downloadable from the website.
    Wolf, the OP is a business person, and your suggestion (or lack thereof) basically asks her to junk her business model. While I can appreciate your passion, I will have to argue that I know a little about retouching and realism... by original training I was a painter and illustrator. In order for her to maintain her business, her clientele essentially demands some level of retouching that doesn't end up looking like clown makeup. Your photos are certainly nice. But then, silver sword doesn't usually have pimples. Nice work!
  7. mbh


    Others have given solid advice. I just throw in that I've found Photoshop very effective in removing mild skin blemishes for homecoming photos and the like. I use the spot healing brush tool and for things like a pimple, it's very effective and natural looking. You can fix most such blemishes easily and quickly with a few clicks.
    Now, if you're talking about a teen who has a real serious acne condition, you're going to need more time and probably a few additional tricks to bear, but Photoshop can do all those also. I don't generally try to remove everything if someone has a real skin condition, I just try to bring it under control.
    Like I said though, you've got some great advice above. There are probably other programs that would work, but I think Photoshop is the tool you want.
    Good luck.
  8. Use photoshop, it's the gold standard for retouching...
  9. PhotoResampling. Cheap user-friendly and powerfull. You can download a demo version.
  10. There are multiple interesting products and explanations of Photoshop techniques if you Google > skin smoothing software <.
  11. Actually, one should just go silent when things get silly ... However...​
    I offered advice based on tried and true experience, to include photographing senior veterans with terrible facial scars who did not want the scars PSd out, but did like the idea of toning them down so they don't play a prominent part in the image. And where do you get the notion that anyone suggested plastic skin? My comment, which you find so extraneous specifically said to avoid looking like the skin was painted. Teenagers coming in for a yearbook photo may have all sorts of skin eruptions that come and go that are not a regular feature of their face.
    There are enough tools and techniques in Photoshop that enable those to be removed tastefully without a lot of time spent and a lot of heavy overpainting.
    And what does what you despise have to do with assisting the OP with her question? I'm sure you're a talented photographer, but I'm not sure you're very tactful, going off about what you despise.
  12. I can give a recommendation of what NOT to buy. Any s/w from onOne, such as PhotoTools. I made the mistake one drunken night of buying it. I had no end of problems installing it, and support has been abysmal (avg 3 weeks for an email).
    Patrick will tell u Photoshop and stop everything else. I've become a believer in that motto. All u need to do is google 'skin retouching' and you'll get no end of web-sites giving good (fast) techniques, i.e., you don't have to learn everything, just 1 good technique that suits your needs. Also youtube has endless tutorials.
    With anything else, you won't learn anything. You'll be a slave to that s/w, good or bad and wonder how to re-create it in Photoshop.
  13. Thanks for those of you who answered my question. I already own photoshop... and I consider myself extremely advanced in photoshop... especially with retouching. However it is just SOOO time consuming.. that is why I was posting here for advice. I will try some of the recommended posts. I think I will start with portraiture today! Then I'll go on and try some of the others ones. THANK YOU FOR THE HELP! I really appreciate that people take the time the answer my questions!
    Random "retouching" note:
    And for those of you who don't like retouching... I would just say that a senior boy in high school COVERED in pimples knows that the pimples do not define him and eventually he will grow out of it... he wants to get rid of the pimples to feel more confident and mature. It is still him and I do not over-retouch... but I think that is it is an excellent service to offer young men and women. I don't give girls bigger boobs, or change their faceshape... just get rid of the embarrassing side effects of youth-- pimples and other blemishes. I think this belief is pretty standard. I also do fashion photography... so I know how 'overboard' retouching can get. Although when you are photographing high-end models they actually do already look like what they do in many magazine... usually its the celebrities that get the insane retouching. :).
  14. Lindsay, if I could add (before you go face down into the post-processing), don't know if you are saving/creating your own actions to automate some of your process, but if you aren't, take a little time to do that... it certainly saves a lot of steps, clicks and frees up your brain from focussing on the minute steps.
  15. Has anyone here ever used a retouching service? I'm just SOOOOO particular about how they look... for example kids with freckles and pimples should retain the freckles but the skin should still look smoothed out and the person have no bags under the eyes, etc.
    Anyone use a service they actually like? I might just have to hire in-house next year. I opened my studio in June and I do 3-5 portrait sessions a day.. and I just can't handle shooting mon-fri 3-5 a day and then retouching on the weeks. I'll never sleep again! lol.
  16. photoshop.....hands down....I don't do senoir portraits, but between my grand kids teen age blemish problems, and my twin gransdsons habitual food clumps all over their faces (they are 5....and two of the messiest eaters I have ever seen), not to mention the small scratches all over their faces from throwing their toys at each other..........i find photoshop takes care of it all.
    Yeah, if you're doing a couple hundred teen agers I could see the time being outrageous. but nothing else does it like photoshop. Ever thought of hiring a make up artist to take care of it before hand. Might be worth the expense if you hate retouching that much.
  17. Photoshop is now about 20 years old; it was most folks use for retouching. One can also use old Photostyler from 15 to 21 years ago; or The Gimp or many lessor programs. Retouching costs are about all labor; farming it out where labor costs are lower has been done for decades; it was even down in the Adams Retouching machine film era too. Minor retouching was done 1/2 century ago with senior portraits too. Getting a handle on the costs and labor involved should be ones concern; not the tools used. A major retouch costs more whether 50 years ago or today. KEEP TRACK of the time/labor involved with retouching; it is often more than one wants to admit. You might find yourself really not making much when one spends alot of time per image.
  18. Try Portrait Professional. They also have a fee trial. It's very fast and you can control how strong the effect is. It has many effects that it does at once, but you can turn them off and only use what you want. I only use the skin effect and then back it down.
  19. Try Portrait Professional. They also have a fee trial. It's very fast and you can control how strong the effect is. It has many effects that it does at once, but you can turn them off and only use what you want. I only use the skin effect and then back it down.
  20. Lindsay, you might look at hiring a tech on a contract basis... the downside is you're looking at a tech. The upside is you have a lot more control/interaction with the process than if you send it out. But sending it out might be the way to fly if getting the extra workload off your shoulders is your intent. Sleep? C'mon who needs sleep? That's what coffee is for!
  21. Lindsay, maybe I don't understand your business model (or that of others like yourself). But it would seem to me that what you could do is pick out your favorite one single shot per subject and re-touch just that one for the proofs (show both touched and untouched of the same image). This way, your customer can see how effective your re-touching is and can pick his/her favorite photo from the proofs with the understanding that the selected photo will then be re-touched (if it is different than the one you already re-touched). This way, you would do one photo per client upfont and possibly one on the back side. Again, since I don't know exactly how your bus. works, you may already be doing this. What is the standard in the industry? Since you are shooting digital (I presume), can't you spend 10 minutes at the end of the shoot reviewing the photos with your customer and let them pick the one shot they want you to re-touch?
  22. I used Portraiture plugin, but that is only after I have retouched the skin with healing brush, clone brush and/or painting the skin. Then I use Portraiture mildly to smooth out my retouches.
    I think Portraiture is the best plugin on the market right now for final retouching. The results are pretty amazing. The Kodak plugin is probably my second choice. Imagenomic even has Portraiture for LR now and I was amazed that the results are still identical to the PS plugin. Still, it's easier for detailed fashion to work in and with the PS plugin ultimately.
  23. To really save time and to get good results I am using Portrait Professional 8.
    It is a low cost stand-alone download, and seemed too cheap to be any good, but I tried the free version, which is fully featured but allows no saves. I was impressed, within the limits of what it does it does very well.
    You still need another program for more general work, but for portraiture I am impressed.
    If time saving is part of your need I suggest to give it a run, it only costs a little time.
    I am a happy user and have no connection whatever with the publisher.
  24. I use Portrait Professional 9 studio edition and find it quick with good results.
    I am currently testing a demo in CPAC imaging pro. I find it to be extremely quick with
    excellent results also. With it you can obtain a very natural look with a lot of softening and
    sharpening control. It is rather expensive, however it autoselects which speeds up the process.
    for volume type processing.
  25. FWIW, I do almost all of my work in Photoshop, but for high volume, lower quality product (but way better than doing nothing), I second Portrait Pro.
    For major problems with pimples, rosaceae, hives, etc. I use a technique described in "Skin" by Lee Varis and others (Katryn Eissman?, Ctien? -- I can't remember who...). The idea is that in one operation (not a zillion cloning or spot healing / patching steps), you want to adjust the hue and sat of the objectionable skin areas, be they spotty (pimples) or pervasive (rosaceae), to match the hue and sat of the good skin areas without destroying skin texture (ie, mostly point-to-point luminosity variations).
    To accomplish this, instead of using the Hue & Sat control built into PS and recommended by Varis et al, I use a commercial plugin called "Color Mechanic Pro" ( ). This plugin allows me to quickly select and de-select on both hue and saturation, whereas the built-in "Hue & Sat" control only allows me to select and de-select based on hue alone. Once the areas are selected, both tools allow you to adjust the hue, sat and luminosity of the target areas.
    This technique is extremely effective and quick. There is a great illustration in the Varis book demonstrating use of this technique on a fellow with fairly serious skin problems. I've used it to good effect on much worse cases. Unfortunately, to protect the privacy of the individuals involved and not having model releases, I'm not going to post b4-after examples. Unfortunately, other than a thread or two on and the book(s) mentioned above, I hardly hear anyone else using this technique. Maybe they don't want to give away their "secrets" :).
    Tom M
  26. Hey Lindsay, I do quite a bit of retouching in Photoshop and I understand how time consuming it can be... I don't know of any services that might be useful but i think if you send me a sample of what you are looking for, or i can send you a sample of my work.... maybe i could be of service... my email is Send me an email and maybe we could work something out...
  27. I will often do it in Photoshop using the methods outlined in Scott Kelby's book on Portrait retouching. I also have OnOne's Perfect Portrait. It does a good job when you want to quickly process images. I will often use it and tone it down. I bought Portrait Professional because I got a really good sale price on it, but I don't like how it automatically changes facial features. Perhaps I need to dig deeper into the manual to figure out how to stop this. The eye treatment is better than OnOne's but it seems to add a color cast to skin that looks odd. Most pro's seem to use Portraiture and I'm about to download that to try out.
    Yes, using Photoshop is great, but if a tool helps you do it faster, I'm all for it! I can't spend a half an hour on every single image I want to do a little retouch on especially if I've done a lot of freebie photos of a family event. For freebies, even 10 minutes on 50 images adds up.
  28. "... but I don't like how it automatically changes facial features. Perhaps I need to dig deeper into the manual to figure out how to stop this. ..." -
    It couldn't possibly be easier. To turn of face re-shaping in Portrait Pro, just click this one button and it's completely gone. --->>>

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