1. Retouch 1-3 final images. Apply the things you’ve learned from this and last week’s lessons, be very attentive to details and be careful not to over-retouch. When working on a set of images that are supposed to be part of a series, make sure the mood and colors match up and complement one another–aim for consistency across images.
2. Write down useful things you have learned in this lesson for retouching, as well as the things that you feel should have been fixed during the photo shoot process. It can be general and/or specific.
So here are my final images!
I went through my image selections and narrowed down my favourite 3, and picked an extra image for each to try some comping during the final retouching process. I had taken notes while I watched this set of lessons, and used that as a general walk-through of how I did my retouching. This was very helpful to know what order to do what steps, for example, knowing that cropping the image will break the history states. I never knew that! SOOOO helpful to know this ahead of time, major headaches were saved with this one tip! Thanks Jingna!!
A few things I noticed that I really wish I had attended to on set was for sure the background, but also paying attention to which way the prop was facing. I think in the future I will try to narrow down my model’s poses beforehand quite a bit, and then on shoot, try to have several subtle variations of the exact same pose, but vary up the lighting on that pose, maybe change the hair style slightly, or even have the model turn 5-10º more in both directions, as well as have them tilt their head slightly in different directions. Having a strong idea of what your final pose should like will help a lot in knowing what pose you want to capture subtle variations of.
I also think during the reference phase, in addition to just gathering more references overall, it also would have helped to establish a solid colour palette and use apps to hone it down to a perfect harmony group. Then during colour corrections, I could refer to this and even colour-pick from it. Also during reference collection, I noticed that since my references were from an animated film, and a film from the 80s with older cameras, it influenced the degree to which I used features like Clarify and Noise Reduction. I think in future projects I would keep in mind the context of my references and try to find other examples from different eras or genres that captured what I was after with different style approaches, this would help to narrow down specifically what I was after and where in the production process I would achieve that effect.
Lastly, I’m sure you will notice my shameless use of lens flares and halos. I’m sure many people will tell me these effects are cliche or cheesy, but to be honest, I just thought they were cool (I did try to keep them subtle, so they didn’t draw too much attention). I like them and they were fun to do. Looking back, I think I could have gotten better exposures, I could have benefited from renting some nicer equipment, my lighting could have better, and I would also benefit from better planning overall. All of that said though, I learned a TON throughout this course, and I enjoyed the heck out of it. So in the end I am happy with what I came up with, and I will definitely be using everything I learned in my future work.
The first step I did on every image is something I learned when I worked in textbook illustration for a short while, and that is to paint a quick mask of the main figure on a separate layer to save for later. You will likely use this mask over and over again on just about every adjustment layer, so have this be the first step and try to get it relatively clean and precise. It shouldn’t be so precise that drawing it takes up too much time, but considering how useful it is, it’s worth the effort. It's also a great first step because it doesn't require any artistic decision-making, but you are using your tablet to do it, so you are warming up your drawing hand while doing something that isn't mentally taxing, and you are surveying the image while you do it, starting to get ideas flowing.
One trick that popped in my head during retouching (probably a faint memory of seeing this done in some random tutorial somewhere once) was taking a black-and-white version of my image, and then using a strong S-curve on it to blow out the whites and blacks, and blurring it slightly, to make a mask for the highlights. I use the above mentioned figure outline mask to cut out just the grey scale portion of the figure, and apply a layer mask with a radial gradient to grab just the face portion. Finally, I merge this to a black background layer. This gives me a mask I can apply to adjustment layers where I only want to affect the highlights on the face.
To repeat the above process for a “shadow region” mask, the steps are slightly different. I take the grey-scale blown-out, blurred and cut-out layer, then merge to a white background. Then I invert this layer so that only the dark portions of the image will show up as white, allowing me to access and apply specific adjustments to just the shadow areas.
When I got towards the end of finalizing my images and getting them ready for posting online, one thing that came to mind was that Instagram uses a square image format, and at work we try to plan out our images with this in mind. So, after I saved all my working files to jpg, I saved out another separate jpg in a square format, and tested the cropping I did for those by comparing the images with one another and making sure they looked well together. One trick I did for this was to use a guide in PS to line up the eyes.