Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beauty Reboot

Evoke. Shot by Ali Al Marzooq. Retouched by yours truly. Kathleen Ty MUA. Tiffani Chynel styling. Jessica Today model.

Taught a private workshop recently where we shot some beauty and I had an opportunity to retouch it live and relive some of the fun I had when retouching beauty.

It's been a long while since I've had to retouch beauty but the beauty retouching skills have not waned. If anything they've gotten stronger with the thousands of faces I've dealt with through the years, regardless of whether the shoots were for beauty or not. It really goes back to my previous post about lighting, retouching, and understanding the human face being all overlapping perspectives.

I've noticed a subtle differences in my approach to retouching something of this nature that I hadn't noticed before. Namely that I have a problem-solving approach where I tackle whatever "jumps out at me". And with that being said, I feel like I have a much better toolbox for problem-solving than before. And I have much better tools. No, I don't mean Photoshop CS6 or whatever iteration is available by the time you read this. Instead I mean my dexterity and ability to use the basic tools such as D&B and heal brush and clone stamp and liquify. These basic tools are now sharper with thousands of hours of use. In addition, I've added new tools to the toolbox with complicated manipulations that require multiple layers and masks and even clipping masks.

The workflow I employ is now broader. It starts more so from capture and certainly leverages the functions of camera RAW with more purpose than before. I think my ability to read/understand the histogram and predict the "problem spots" long before I address them in Photoshop allows me to address a beauty image holistically instead of with a band-aid solution/approach. But this is the way it should be because there are much better solutions at the point-of-capture than later in Photoshop or even in camera RAW.

I will say that my love for retouching has not waned. Not one bit. I believe the source of these sentiments stems from internal willingness to "solve problems" for lack of a better description. When I'm retouching, I feel purposeful and connected with the image and my patience knows no limits. In a manner of speaking I feel like I was made to retouch.

But that being said I think that my understanding of Photoshop can certainly improve. However I feel that while there are different tools out there that do many of the same tasks, the best tools are always going to be universally useful and necessary for many tasks. So it's no secret that D&B, clone stamping, and healing brush comprise of the foundation of all beauty retouches.

If you haven't seen this, check out the beauty tutorial I did a while back!


  1. Hi Charles, always been a fan of your beauty work and attention to detail. Very very inspiring. I had a question about your flickr feed, do you sometimes enable and disable recent work? Sometime your feed is visible with latest work and others times not.

  2. Hi Ross, I'm not sure what or why that happens. It should always be visible. I know that you must sign in to flickr to view the material because most of my work is 18+ because of nudity? Is that why?

    1. I added you as a contact (hope you don't mind) and it seems to have fixed it :)