Make me beautiful…

In the summer of 2014 journalist Esther Honig set a project for digital retouchers around the world. Her brief was simple; “Make me beautiful”.

I thought it was quite interesting to see the different entries, some by professionals, some by amateurs. It seems to reinforce that beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.

Most of my retouching work is around product and venue photography, but I wondered what I would do given this challenge? My approach to retouching is to make it plausible so that the viewer is unaware. Conscious not to deform Esther like some of the over-the-top entries, I chose to do, digitally, what most women do with makeup. Below is the result (with the odd little white lie!). To see the retouching stages I went through, check out my portfolio section.

It used to be the case that “the camera never lies”, but that now seems to be the exception. Authenticity has become a rare commodity in advertising and marketing. What’s your point of view?

Esther Honig retouch by ARTVIK Photography

Esther Honig retouch by ARTVIK Photography – original shot copyright E.G. Shempf

3 best Photoshop techniques

Here are my top 3 Photoshop techniques to make ordinary images look great.

1. Levels

Photoshop Levels filter

Photoshop Levels filter

Photoshop can be quite overwhelming, with often many ways to achieve the same result.

The ‘Levels’ adjustment is a simple way of changing the light, dark and mid points of an image to boost overall contrast.

 By moving the black slider right a small amount, the white slider to the base of the ‘mountain’, and the grey slider in the middle (as below), the effect is immediate and striking.

Photoshop Levels

Photoshop Levels

The result…

Comparing the Levels adjustment in Photoshop

Comparing the Levels adjustment in Photoshop

 

2. Cloning

Sometimes your image is spoilt by an unwanted object. This can be cloned out. The clone tool involves painting pixels on top of your image to hide items below. It allows you to ‘copy’ or clone sections of your image and place them over other areas. The clone tool is best used with a new layer, so that you can isolate its effect and preserve your original image.

Preparing to use the Photoshop clone tool.

Preparing to use the Photoshop clone tool.

Alt-click  (Mac – option-click) an area of the image to set where your clone tool copies from, then start painting with it. Below shows the separate layer containing cloned pixels from the hedge, on their own layer, sitting over the goal post!

After using the Photoshop clone tool.

After using the Photoshop clone tool.

The result…

Comparison using the Photoshop clone tool

Comparison using the Photoshop clone tool

 

3. Unsharp Mask

Photoshop Unsharp Mask filter

Photoshop Unsharp Mask filter

The clue to this filter is definitely NOT in the title, since it has nothing obvious to do with unsharping or masking – see Wikipedia for a full explanation. However, it is one of the best ways to take a flat image and perk it up around sections of adjacent contrast.

This filter is particularly good when images have been resized smaller to go on the web.

 

 

Photoshop Unsharp Mask settings

Photoshop Unsharp Mask settings

You can read the full details here, but my advice is to keep the ‘Amount’ between 50% and 100%, and the ‘Radius’ at 1 pixel (or 2 pixels maximum).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The result…

Photoshop Unsharp Mask example

Photoshop Unsharp Mask example