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Image Clean-up

Lesson 6 from: Local Dodging and Burning for Beauty Retouching

Chris Knight

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Lesson Info

6. Image Clean-up

Lesson Info

Image Clean-up

We're gonna open up Photoshop, we're gonna actually open up a beauty image. And we're gonna walk through the steps that are involved. Now the first thing we have to do is we actually have to clean up the image. Because we're working on destructively we can always go back and we can clean things up after we started the dodge and burn process to a degree as long as we're really aware of what the tools are doing. But you have to know what local dodging and burning is capable of doing or when healing is a better use of your time. Big textural things, blemishes, some stray hairs obviously you wanna get rid of. Sometimes it's just easier in one fail swoop to go whoop and wipe it out in the clean up step. But, local dodging and burning is going to be more about those hills and valleys. So there we go; we are often times looking for pimples, certain freckles, scars, stray hairs, smudge makeup. There is again a threshold of personal preference, and you're gonna have to decide what you wanna kee...

p and what you don't but by enlarge this is generally our process. We're gonna be working as non-destructively as possible. So that we can always go back, we're gonna primarily be using the healing tool and the spot healing tool very small. That's gonna be the core of this and then like I said, we're removing obvious blemishes and scars, prominent textural distractions that a curve layer will have a hard time getting rid of. When working on a black and white image, do you convert it black and white first or do you work in color? Generally yes, because there is a lot that you can do in the actual development of a black and white image. So that there gonna be certain tonal adjustments, a black and white conversion is always gonna look different than a color because you get to play with contrast and tone in a very different way. And there's usually a lot more flexibility in terms of the tonal processing that you end up doing. It's not that you can't do with color but black and white just tends to be a little bit more flexible. And so I will always do it in the conversion. The downside is you can't unconvert it, and so some people like to save it for the end but I do personally like to do it earlier. I think it produces a better conversion. Alright, so we're gonna start with the beauty retouch image and this is just a raw DNG. And I followed with Lindsey's processing of this so it actually looks as the way she wanted it to. So we're gonna start with the clean up step and like I said, primarily we're gonna be using the healing tool and the spot healing tool. And this is really not the focus of this but it is important because you have to know what needs to be done and what you wanna keep and what can be fixed later. Generally, I'm gonna use the spot healing tool for a lot of this but sometimes the healing tool is gonna be more effective in certain situations. So what I'm looking for are little textural issues. You generally want to keep your brush on this step. This is because once you actually start using a big brush and I'm gonna exaggerate it obviously. What ends up happening is it starts to really effect texture in a big way and that really fights us in the local dodging and burning step. So I'm gonna be using a really small brush as often as I possibly can; the healing tool as opposed to the spot healing tool often times gets around this because it forces you to pick the texture yourself. But the spot healing tool ends up being a lot faster. And so I'm gonna be using that. But you can see all of these little, the really highlighted textural things, that is going to be an absolute nightmare to try to get rid of in the local dodging and burning steps. So I definitely want to try to fix it here, it's not that I can't necessarily fix it. It's just dodging and burning can only do so much. And there are other methods to do this, you may or may not be familiar with a frequency separation. And to a degree you can get a somewhat similar of an effect in a lot less time, however, you can still see a difference. Frequency separation definitely has its place but it's just more a matter of time than quality. So if you're looking for quality, this is how you wanna do it; if you're looking for speed and time, frequency separation is probably gonna be a better course of action for you. And again, this is a large degree of what personal taste happens to be and because the makeup is a bit shimmery and sparkly, how much do you wanna keep. So I'm just cleaning up again some of these strays. Some of the things that stick out a little bit. I like the little shine on the nose, I tend to always leave that, okay. And so, it's looking pretty good. If you ever happen to come back and you missed something and you don't necessarily want to fix it in the dodge and burn because you found that it's too difficult to do so. What you can do is you can go back to your healing tools but the spot healing tool is going to sample all layers. So unless you turn off everything on top of it, it's gonna compound the effect and because we're gonna be working in black and white it's gonna heal with a black and white layer. And that's not ideal, so sometimes if you don't wanna turn everything off. If you just select the spot healing tool and you set it to current and below, that's gonna be a more effective solution for you to come in and fix the issues without having to turn off what you are working with before. So that can sometimes be a really easy way to remove it. So, this is basically where I'm going to begin and you can see, that the difference is not that drastic when you look at the before and after. It's a little bit of clean up but it's nothing crazy. It's still very fundamentally the same shot, okay? You see it a lot more when you zoom in which is always the idea but this is basically where I'm gonna be starting from the local dodging and burning. All of this stuff that I got rid of, super obnoxious to try to fix in the next step. Much easier to do it here, so again path of least resistance So this is where we start, this is gonna be my clean up. I have to save this for Lindsey, so she can get a free retouch out of the deal, that was my agreement. So this is where we're gonna be starting, now we're gonna pop back to the slide for just a second. So you can see fundamentally what we're gonna be doing here in the next step. What we're actually doing is not fundamentally very difficult, we're gonna be creating two curve adjustment layers. One to brighten, one to darken. And we're gonna be using a very low strength of a brush to slowly lighten and slowly darken with a very soft brush. The masks on these adjustment layers need to be hide all mask, you don't want the effect to be everywhere. You only wanna paint where you want it to be visible, obviously. We're gonna be using a temporary gray layer and I'm gonna be walking you guys through this when we do it but we're be converting the image to black and white. And we're gonna be darkening it and really increasing the contrast as we saw earlier; this was how we were able to really visualize all of the issues. Now, these layers are gonna sit on top of the curves, so that the curves adjust with them. And we're not actually getting any weird discrepancies in how far these techniques are pushing the image. My recommendation for the brush you're using for dodge and burn is a 0% hardness which means it's gonna be a very soft brush, 100% opacity and 1-3% flow. That basically means that you just keep scribbling over it and it's gonna make the effect stronger and you don't have to keep picking it up and putting it down. `So I usually say 100%, and a 1-3% flow on the brush. And this is gonna be very gradual. The nice thing about working with a brush as opposed to a dodge and burn tool, is the dodge and burn tool only gives you the ability to effect exposure. Which is basically one control setting. So if it's too strong, there's only so far you can dial it down where as with the brush if 1% flow is still too much, you can then take opacity down and you can go even further. Alright, so I'm gonna show you how to set this up and then I'm gonna show you how to actionize it if you want, I would recommend actionizing. There are also tons of free actions for this all over the internet that you can download that are all readily available to you. So if you don't wanna make one yourself, you definitely can download them. But this is basically what we're doing.

Ratings and Reviews

Andreas Böhrnsen

Great course on dodging and burning and beauty retouching in general. Think he went through all the steps very thoroughly. Well explained and overall a good course. Would highly recommend it to anyone into portrait and beauty photography.

Bjorn Carlen

A highly recommended class! Chris Knight is super efficient and tremendously clear an instructor. He manages to sqeeze so much useful information and tips into this hour, that I have to go back and revisit several times before i get it all. That may say something anout me myself, but I think also about the efficiency of the instructor. Very good!


I have viewed many Creative Live classes and rank this one among the best. Chris very effectively organized his class to impart knowledge. He Starts with an overview and summary level walk thru of the process and then goes into details and does an actual retouch. He concludes with a lesson on what can go wrong and provides practice images. I highly recommend this class to anyone seeking to learn Dodge and Burn. Thank-you Chris for a great educational experience!

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