“The final exercise in this part of the course is deliberate, out-and-out alteration of the content of the image”


 Hell yes! time to remove the manacles and really mess with an image:
Stage 0 This is my starting image. The goal is to use some of the big tricks to mess with it and end up with something that Nikki the subject likes. 

Stage 1 Blemish Removal

Stage 1 Blemish Removal In stage 1 I used the patch tool to select individual; blemishes and remove them. There were not too many in this image.

Stage 2 Face Shape

Stage 2 Face Shape In the next Stage I slimmed out the face a little by using a Transform Warp on the whole image. As you can probably see I went a tiny bit too far and made the head look a little elongated and the chin too long. As you will see I fixed this later.

Stage 3 Crop

Stage 3 Crop The image has a strange bow to its edges in the last cut so I cropped it to a conventional oblong shape this has the effect of zooming in a little on the face, I also took out some of the lower tee shirt area to better place the head in the frame.

Stage 4 Increase the Left Eye

Stage 4 Increase Righyt eye As with most people when photographed they tend to squint a little and the result is rather closed eyes which look quite small. So I masked out the left eye and feathered the edge using an elliptical selection tool. I then did a new layer via copy leaving a copy of the eye on top in a new layer.Using Ctrl T I selected the eye for a transform. at this point you need to click the little icon between the Height and width values in the tool bar so that the aspect ratio is preserved.I added 4% to the height which automatically did the same to the width. making the eye 4% bigger, this is subtle but make the final image much better.

Stage 5 Increase the Right Eye

Stage 5 Increase left eye Again a common trait in most people is to have both eyes a different size and also because of the source of thye light Nikki is almost closing the Right eye. One trick often used by Retoucher’s is to duplicate an eye and flip it.In this image I have duplicated the previous layer moved it over the Right eye and flipped the layer so that it now looks like a right eye. now both eyes balance each other and look more alert.The problem here is that the light on each side of the face is different so you can see a line all be it a diffused one so ~I added a mask and painted over the edges of the eye into the mask in black with the brush set to about 10% opacity. by building up strokes along the edges they vanish as they slowly reveal the colour underneath.

Stage 6 Create an overlay layer

Stage 6 Create Overlay Now we begin the high pass method of skin softening I favor. This will soften the skin blend in the freckles and skin blemishes while still retaining the texture and pores of the skin. It stops the end result looking like melted wax or plastic like some bad retouches do.This is the first step in that process I merged the face with the eye layers so I have one image with enlarged eyes I then duplicated this layer and set the blend mode of the new layer to Overlay giving the rather unpleasant image shown here but do not worry there is still a lot to do.

Stage 7 Invert the Blended layer

Stage 7 invert Next invert the layer by hitting Ctrl I which gives this inverted picture still looking rather bad.

Stage 8 Add a High Pass filter

Stage 8 High Pass 14 Next I applied a high pass filter set to 14 which sort of gets us back to a normal image but its very blurred, which is the opposite to the effect given by a high pass filter. Remember we inverted the image so the effect is inverted too.

Stage 9 Gaussian Blur

Stage 9 Gausian 3 The next step is to add a Gaussian Blur at 3.7 to remove some of the blurring and bring the image back.Yes that’s right it sharpens the image not blurs it remember we are working on an inverted layer.

Stage 10 Mask that skin

Stage 10 Masking So the previous image was rather nasty as everything is blurred and smoothed which is horrible over the teeth and eyes etc. what we need is for it to only effect the skin.o do this I add a black mask to the layer so no effect is seen then I carefully paint whit into the mask over the skin areas. This is a painstaking process and requires a careful hand. There are commercial bits of software that make this so much easier but currently I don’t have funds to buy it so I am doing all of this by hand.

Stage 11 Whiten the Teeth

Stage 11 Teeth White To make the final image fit for a magazine we need to whiten the teeth, to do this I create a Hue saturation adjustment layer and desaturate the yellow and red channels.The yellow saturation can be reduced all the way but the red Chanel needs to be reduced carefully so that you don’t end up with a blue grey set of teeth so a subtle small amount of red needs to be removed to make the teeth look white. You can also adjust the lightness in this layer to make the teeth the right colour.I find that a very slightly blue cast makes the teeth look fantastically white, in the same way washing powder manufacturers add bluit to washing powder to do the same thing to your white shirts.Now the whole image looks terrible as everything is desaturated and lighter so I add a black mask and paint white onto the teeth alone. Now the image usually looks like an image from a comic book with the teeth unfeasibly white so I reduce the opacity of the layer until the teeth look nicely white without looking unnatural.

Stage 12 Eye Contrast

Stage 12 Eye Contrast The next change is to add some contrast to the iris. To do this I added a levels adjustment layer and set the blend mode to screen. IO then masked it out and only painted it over the iris.She looks a bit spooky now so we need to damp down the eyes and add some detail.

Stage 13 Darken the pupils

Stage 14 Eye pupils Since the last layer covered all of the iris and pupils the pupil is a little grey so I added a multiply levels layer to darken and masked it to the pupil.

Stage 14 Fix the Key lights

Stage 13 Eye keylights The last step darkened out the key lights so we need to first remove the mask from the key lights then add a screen overlay mode levels adjustment layer and mask it only over the key lights.

Stage 15 Darken the Iris Outline

Stage 14 iris outline In this step we darken the line around the iris. To do this I first create a levels adjustment layer switch it to multiply and darken it down as with the pupil.Next I use the elliptical selection tool to select both irises, this is made easier with the space bar that allows you to move the current selection and the shift key that allows you to add the second eye have a play you will see what i mean.once selected I use the selection modify menu to add a 3 pixel feather to the selection.Remember we did this selection on top of a masked out levels adjustment layer that turned the image very dark so when you hit the delete key it will remove the black mask from your selection and you will have two black discs over her irises with a nice feathered edge. do not deselect this yet. use the select modify menu to contract the selection 5 pixels switch the selected colour to white and hit delete again and it will put back the black in the iris leaving a ring of black around the iris.Now in this image her iris in both eyes is slightly covered by the lid so we must paint black back into the mask to remove the parts of the circle that extend into the eye lids. sometimes you need to do this top and bottom.Lastly its a bit dark now so change the layer opacity to about 70% this can vary depending on what looks best when you do it.

Stage 15 Add Iris Dark Detail

Stage 15 iris dark detail This step requires a special brush, I have a set of eye touch up brushes that came with a Photoshop retouch book. the one I used here is a circle of little dashes radiating out from the centereye brush.To use this I created a levels adjustment layer and set the blend mode to overlay. This darkens the image but keeps the detail underneath more than multiply.I masked it out with a black mask then used this brush to paint the lines in on the iris.

Stage 16 Add Iris Light Detail

Stage 16 iris light detail For this the process is repeated except that the brush is rotated 5 degrees and the blend mode is set to screen to lighten the effect.Once the two layers are in place you need to change the opacity of the two layers so that the end result is not too harsh, in my case the light layer is at about 60% and the dark layer is around 47%

Stage 17 Sharpen Details

Stage 17 sharpen detal In this stage I used on of the Nix tools and added a sharpening layer. I masked it out completely and only added it back over the eyebrows lips and jewelry. I also added some over the irises to sharpen the detail.

Stage 18 Final Crop and fixes

Stage 18 Final Crop For the final image I did two things firstly I cropped the image more to loose some of the negative space below the head.The you remember I over shaped the head leaving it too long and making the chin look too prominent.So I used a size transform and adjusted only the height of the image bringing the head back into proportion.


From this:
Stage 0
To This:
Stage 18 Final Crop

I made a lot of changes, did not stick to the assignment brief as that bored me and this is my final word on the sanctity of an image. I am the Captain Hook of PhotoShop!

If you can do it its OK!, provided it works and looks real. In truth I believe that its OK to do anything as long as there is a reason. I even saw a reason to use a very rough cut out with a huge halo in a friend work at the weekend so anything really does go when you can say why you did it.

The proof of this pudding was in the eating Nikki loved it and used it as her Facebook image so I got something right, her nephew thought it was take some years ago because she looked so young.

Do people know its a Photoshop retouch? Who the hell cares its an image in and for itself. Just Enjoy!