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Mark Up Process

Lesson 3 from: Advanced Portrait Retouching

Lisa Carney

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Lesson Info

3. Mark Up Process

Next Lesson: Spotting & Cloning

Lesson Info

Mark Up Process

Quick follow-up question. Yes? But then all the stuff that's stacked above that, you've already done retouching to that. Now the spotting layer is different from the- Absolutely, absolutely. New detail layer. So, what would end up happening for this, again, once again great question, if I'm pulling it for a section, I'd start using it for the section. Now, this is why that's such an awesome question, and I'm gonna get to the markup stage because this is when that conversation happens. And I think just for giggles I'm gonna double this up so you can see it, because I think it might need a little more density on it. These are my quick markups. So I'm gonna keep going, but I think it's gonna answer part of your question here. The markup stage, here is why I believe the markup stage is so incredibly, incredibly important. First of all, retouching is 100% subjective. I don't care who you are, what you are, what you do for a living, there is no one right answer, and people will tel...

l you there is, there ain't. Because everyone's got a different point of view here. So, especially with new clients, and for yourself, dear God please mark it up, mark the file. What that means is go in there, look in there, and start deciding, what are we doing here? What's the plan? So, let's talk about a game plan here. My method, and one thing I like, and again these are on the handouts that you can download, first of all I'd like to look at what needs to be removed. What should I take out? And on those removables what you want to consider are things that are non-negotiable. What I mean by that is not something someone's gonna come back later and say, "I really wish you'd put that blackhead back on my nose." Or, "That gash across my forehead, I want it back." Or, the sensor, you know how you guys have sensors, dust specks from the sensors, that kind of things. Non-negotiables, you want to do those first. And you want to mark them up so you're having a conversation because I will assure you that scar across the forehead that you think should be removed, that might be someone's absolute identity and should not have been removed. I have very personal experience on this, there was a movie poster, Air Force One, Harrison Ford. He's got that scar on his chin that he's very proud of. He got it from the whip in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I didn't know that, I took it out. We lost the job. Now all they had to do is tell us to put it back in, but we lost the job over it. It was a very painful lesson, I'd like to pass it on to you, so sometimes, it's easy to put it back, ain't nothing, can put it right back in, but sometimes people freak out over those kinds of decisions. So, new clients especially, please, I beg of you, have a conversation. So what I do is I markup things in different ways, everybody has different ways of marking up the files. Some people use different colors to indicate things, some people will put question marks, and I'm gonna show you a couple different files. But I'd like to kind of review some of the questions that I ask when I look at a file. And one of those would be shadow detail, for example. So if we're gonna look at the file removal, cleaning up non-negotiable items, blemishes, spots, scratches, you want to look at subjective stuff. Like that poof of hair. What do you think? Do you want it in? Do you want it out? Some people might think it's cute, some people might think it looks a little messy. Depends on your client. The fly-away hairs on the outside. Now I've been working television for years. As you can see from my hair, I kind of like a little (click noise) in my hair. So I like a flyaway or two. I've had a client, I worked for a few years, dear Lord. Helmet head. Without question, love a helmet head. I can't stand a helmet head. Happy to do whatever they ask, helmet head it is. That's a question to ask. And straightening of shoulders. Do you see that? See these straightenings? Straightening of body lines, it's just a cosmetic thing or a design thing. Perhaps thinning of the arm a little, maybe there's hair on the arm. And what I'm trying to convey to y'all is, don't think you have to know all this. This is a conversation. So this thing provides, this markup process provides a conversation between you and your client, and you know what else it does? It lets you kind of see your file. So while I'm doing a markup, what I'm calculating is, how much time is that, how difficult is that? And I don't know about you guys, but when I get a job, I get this, and I get, "Oh yeah, how much is that to fix that? "How much to retouch that?" And you get three minutes to estimate a whole job. That's what it feels like, that it's three minutes. Ah, ah, ah, two hours apiece? And then I do the spotting process when you actually get the job and then you're like, "Holy crap, that's gonna take me forever." Or, you know, oh they turned out later, they want the clothing changed, they want the clothing color changed, which clients always think is really easy, "Oh yeah, just change the color of the clothes!" Well, all that hair is going over the clothing. That ain't easy. It's doable, but it's not easy. So, these are the questions that the markup process hopefully will help and it will also help you have a conversation with yourself about how much time things are gonna take. Alright, what else do I want to tell you about this? Oh, the taste, so here's the other thing about the taste. How many people are involved in this conversation, in terms of level of retouching? You've got you, you're making the decision. You've got the guy who hired you, the gal who hired you, your client. You've got their client, cause there's always another client. And then guess what, now with social media, God love em, you've got social media who will comment on files, and then files come back based on comments. So I've had a few jobs that I've been involved with where social media made comments. There was a fellow, I'm not gonna say the film cause I don't want to get in trouble, but there was a movie I did many years ago, and it had a gal actress and a guy actress, the typical two big heads. And the gal didn't need any retouching, they didn't care, didn't want it, she looked beautiful. And so the guy said, cause actors get to choose if they have retouching or not, and they get likeness approval, so they get to look at the image to see if they like it, and the guy said, "No, I don't need any retouches, "that's good." Well the internet said he looked like a burn victim. He didn't, but he read a comment from somebody, and that was it, that job got pulled, we had to redo it, we had to refinish it. The good news is for me is, I know it doesn't, it's not a commentary on me as a retoucher. And I'd like to express to you guys that when you do a job and a client says, "Oh it's too far," or "it's too little," or the internet says, "That work is horrible." It's not you, it's people's taste. So I say that to give you some freedom to move, do you understand what I'm saying? So it's like, alright, heavy, soft, what do you want? It's not, there's no judgment here. Do you guys understand what I mean when I say heavy or soft? Okay, cool. Now, in the process of marking up and looking at what you need to do, there's gonna be a thing ya'll do, it cannot be helped, especially for starter, beginners, and this is my glorious little icon for this. You're gonna be ham-fisted. It is inevitable that folks, when you're starting out, if you are starting out, you're gonna be ham-fisted. And what I mean by that is you're gonna go too far. It's unavoidable, it's the nature of the process of learning this. And I want to say that to you, not to discourage you, but to have you look for it. So what I mean by that is, when you do your retouching, at the point where you think it looks pretty good, chances are you're gonna need to pull back about 25%. And I'm gonna show you how to retouch in such a way that you guys can easily, like with a number, dial in a number and pull back 25%. Cool? Ham-fisted. I'm gonna show that every now and again just to remind you. What else do I want to tell you? Malleability, and what I mean by malleability, flexibility, my file structure that we're gonna look at is always gonna be to have you go backwards, you can always go back to the camera raw. Okay, so we're gonna keep stressing that. Alright, so let's look at this markup and just talk briefly about the things that I'm deciding, what should I do? So there's the generic, and I marked this up very, very quickly, non-negotiables. Now, okay, there's going to be some spots. Now, freckles. I'd leave freckles. People are very funny about freckles. I happen to like freckles. So do not do your freckles in your spotting. Mark them up with a question, but don't do it in your spotting because someone will come back later and say, "I like those freckles." Hair. Hair is another tricky one. Do you want the part darkened? Generally people want that. Flyaway hairs, you're not gonna do that in the spotting but you're gonna want to ask how clean. This brings me to my next point: how clean? When I have a new client, I always ask for a sample. What? I always ask for a sample. And what that means is, do they have either a job that they've already done that they want it that level of retouching, or can they pull a sample off the internet of what level they're looking for. Do they want pores, do they not want pores? And I'm gonna tell you, I think folks have a hard time articulating that. Like they know what they'd like to see, but they don't know the words to use. "Oh, I want the skin clean." Well what do you mean by clean? Do you want pores or no pores? And why this is so incredibly important is this completely affects time and cost. Because to do it proper and have pores, that's some cash. And I'm happy to do it, because it's timed. But if you don't want pores, then that's fast, and your costs will go down. So we're gonna talk about that process, and let's see, what else can we talk about? I talked a little bit about the architecture of the shot, like framing, and framing the body a little bit. Do you want the cross hairs off this neck? It's doable, it just takes a lot of time. So I just need to know, do you want that? This is conversation. I'm presuming you want the hairs off the arms, but I'm presuming, and I don't want to presume, so let's have a conversation because that takes time. Time and money. So markup the file, have your client markup the file, I would suggest that these kinds of cross hairs, do you see this hair coming out? That's probably a non-negotiable. That pretty much can go. But these other ones? There's probably going to be some that they want in, and that level will probably be flexible. Is there anything else about this? Okay, her teeth. Sarah, I love you, thank you for posing for this, I feel awkward talking about people. Let's talk about that first. It's a little awkward talking about people when you have to retouch them, so if you're retouching your own client's face, be gentle with what you say because you don't want to insult anybody. So on teeth, what I generally consider doing, is, I would, in fact let me go ahead and mark this up here to give you an idea. And I like to markup in different colors, you guys will find the color key that you want, you might want one color for, "It's going, no conversation, it's going." Another color for, "What do you think, maybe?" And then another color for maybe subtler things, like adding highlight or shadow, something like that. By the way, this symbol, this little E, cursive E, that means out. If you see that, that means get rid of it. Teeth, we often like to fill in those lines just a little bit, chipped teeth we like to straighten those up a bit, there's a bit of discoloration here, this tooth is a little hot, so it would probably be minus density, and this tooth is a little light, so it might be plus density. So that's plus black, minus density, people will have their own languaging with markups so you want to know you're talking the same language too, does somebody know what that symbol is? You need to know, you need to communicate. And do you remember I said earlier that this is a great process for folks who are not retouchers? Folks who are not retouchers who are hiring retouchers, I'd like to talk a little bit about your symbols. E equals take out, I put two lines to mean soften. Two lines, just soften it, step on it a little bit, DK, D for darken, some people will draw a line through something, right over it, well does that mean take it out, or soften it? You need to know. Okay, I'm gonna open up another file. Another file you guys get to work on. And it's me! I need to stop here. Color settings. I know in the color class we had a whole class on color here at Creative Live that can talk all about what kind of color space you're in, but just briefly you need to know what color space you are working in for all jobs, all my jobs are different color spaces. Client A wants SRGB, client B wants ProPhoto, client C wants Adobe, it changes daily because I work on multiple jobs every day. So this warning always comes up for me, cause I'm forever switching my color settings, and just for a second, let me remind you, your color settings window is under your edit menu, and the buttons you want to have clicked are ask when opening, so that if there is a mismatch, you can handle it here, okay? If there are any questions about color settings let me know. Now, here's a lovely photo of me back when I had different hair, I was younger but tired, oh so tired. Alright, let's talk about markups. These are things for you to look at. And once again, do you see the different colors? So the green is pretty much, it's got to go. And I'm addressing things like cross hairs, spots, not all the spots, you don't want to take all the spots out or people will look plastic, alright? And then that thinning hair, I have thin hair. So should we darken in the hair? Those are questions. Do you want hairs over the face, that is a big question, and depending on your client, different answers. I did not get my eyebrows waxed, I probably should have, but didn't, so the eyebrows are coming out. I think that for me, that's a given, depending on your client, it might not be. My eyelashes are a little thin, that's a question. Do you want some more eyelashes in there? You know what I didn't talk about before but I probably should, the specular highlight. People are funny about the specular highlight in eyes. So if you can see the photographer in there, do you want that out? You know I have to tell you in all honesty, I always forget to ask about that. I usually have to ask about that after the second round. So don't do it like me, ask about the first round. Is it in, there's no right answer, it's just preference. Now, on that note, I want to say something about starting. When I start a job, whenever possible, I proof it. I do a print proof. Why do I do that? Because how it looks on the screen is not necessarily how it's going to be printing. Print proof it where? At your house? At your office? Where's it going? Are you using a printer, is this a job? So ideally, these are questions, ideally your client has a printer that is calibrated to their monitor, ideally, ideally they have a profile and they've worked it out with their printer and they have a rapport going and they know what they're talking about. On big, expensive jobs, I ask the client to proof the originals with the printer that's printing the job. I'm gonna say that one more time. On big, expensive jobs, I ask the client to print the raw, base file, how we're opening it, at the printer where the job is getting printed. Because then I know my start point, this is really critical. Now you can chase your tail later and get there, if you don't get this, it's not the end of the world, but in an ideal setting you want to ask for that. And also, that can be really, really, really, either expensive, or profitable. If you're doing your own proofs, you charge per proof. If you're not doing your own proof, have them do it, cause it's expensive. Alright, the hairs behind the ears, in, out? I don't know, these are choices. Hairs over ears. Questions. Red ears, I hate the red ears. You know you get those glowing red ears, drives me crazy. It's one of those things that makes me nuts. The size of the ears. Some people's ears, I just did a job for ABC, and this boy, my God, his ears were like the tiniest little thing, and I made them a little bigger. They just looked weird. I might get in trouble, I don't know, I just couldn't stand it. I was just like, oh, they just need to be a little bigger. And older folks, their ears get a little long, you might want to reduce them, but again, these are questions. Yes, ma'am? What do you do with the proof from the printer? What do I do with it? Yeah. Oh I look at it, I make sure that my monitor is matching what it looks like, I use it as a guide point. So for example, every monitor is different, and while I might be calibrated, they might not be calibrated, and I need to know what they're looking at. And you look at it in a dark room, or something? I try to, in ideal setting, I have neutral color balanced lights. And if they don't match, then you contact the printer? No. I change my monitor to match that print. Just by eyeballing it, you mean? That sort of profile? Yeah, and this is such a beautiful question, thank you for this question. Really appreciate this question cause I don't even think about this anymore. What I will do is I will have the print next to my station, and then I will put a curve on the very very very top of the file, and I will call it match to proof, and I'll work that way. Or, I change how I open the camera raw, ah, dangerous, if I do that that's dangerous, but I know it's dangerous. So there's a lot, there are a lot of ebb and flows here, and there's different work flows, my quick, easy answer is I match my screen to that print, for that job. This is where it gets hairy, that's for that job, I've got 17 other jobs I can't change my monitor every time. Hence, that's why I put a curve on top. Does that help? Yeah? Good. It was a great question. So back to the markups, should I darken under the chin? Do we want a little separation, cause you can't see any separation. You can separate two different ways, you can darken under the chin, or put a highlight on the edge of the chin. You've got some choice. Spotty, a little too much sun in that French countryside, got a little skin thing going on here. And my little ten dollar dress from Normandy is a little raggedy, do you want the fuzzies off? Cause that's extra money. Do you want the fuzzies in? Because if you're masking it, it costs, it's harder to mask and keep the fuzzes in, fuzzes? You know what I mean. So these are questions, these are all questions about time and money, and I hope you're not getting bored by my conversation of time and money, but I think it's really important. And then just straightening things out. There's that little hole right there. Think we should take that out? And what else can I tell you, I think that's it. Oh, and maybe fill in the thinning hair in the back perhaps, that wouldn't be a bad call. Now, the markup process is really important for money, time and money. But it's also important for you for a roadmap, and a conversation, but it's not going to be the end of the conversation, it's the start of a conversation. Trying to think if there's anything else I want to cover, oh the lip, the filling in of the lip, I don't want to forget that. Now some people might like that, that little lippy thing, some people don't. You know sometimes folks, when they smile, they get that stick, the lips stick together, so mark it up. Another very little sensitive area is, they call them smoker lines, which I don't think is very fair, these things, in or out and you got to be careful. And why you have to be careful is, if it's the character of the person, and you take it too far, and you do it in the spotting section, you're kinda hosed because then you've got to start from scratch. I don't often markup, very often anymore, because I've been doing this for so long, except for new clients. New clients, definitely mark it up for new clients cause you don't, we don't have the same conversation. Now, as we're getting started, and we're talking about marking up and making a roadmap, I'm gonna tell you, my general style is to do less. And I think I get hired because I do less. That I don't over retouch. That being said, I'm gonna show you some over retouch processes, because I know clients want that. So you're gonna find your own style. And, in terms of ethics or desirability, my suggestion would be, when you're starting, do what feels right, I wanted to comment one more thing on there, do what feels right for you, and then have your client ask for more. And don't think that means you're a bad retoucher, it means you're doing what you think you should do. Cropping or not cropping is one last thing I wanted to talk about. So there's a lot of dead space here, so for most of this download this is all cropped out, but I want to talk a little bit about preparing for the final job or what you're gonna do, and should you crop it. I prefer, whenever possible, never to crop the images. Never, never, never, never. I know it's dead space. And when you print it, you can crop it before you print it, here is why. In my particular genre, field of work, I am forever being asked to, "Oh, there's frame one, oh can you just put frame two?" And the head is just slightly tilted. Or it's this, or that. And I don't want to have to figure out how to place that secondary image that gets put in at the eleventh hour, two hours before the job's due, and, "Oh quick, can you switch the head out?" Well, if all the files are exactly the same in the same position, the same focal range, same everything, I can drop it in and my process is much faster. So, while I'm going to show you everything cropped, I just want to let you know on a professional level, you might not want to crop it.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Brunette RAW Practice Image
Blonde RAW Practice Image
Portrait Retouching Workbook
Lisa Carney PSD Practice Image
Layered Hair Color Change Example PSD File

Bonus Materials

Outline Cards

Ratings and Reviews


If you were like me and had no idea on where to start and feared that the editing process would be too destructive and would have to start all over again if the client didn't like your completed work - then this is the class for you. I watch this class often for review and to make sure that I maintain these good habits Lisa suggests to do. If you follow all of her helpful commentary on her how's and why's you will end up in a far better place when that time comes that you have to re-edit your edit. I cannot say enough great things about her work flow and how it not only enhanced my images to the result I was looking for but also decreased my editing time(bonus!!!!). I also on a whim sent her a email through her personal site and she replied with a massive helpful technique for enhancing freckles on a job I was working on. She is amazing! She is a true teacher who is there to show you how to use photoshop for you to find and gain your own editing style. Far too often i find myself in retouching classes that only demonstrate how to make your images look like who is teaching the class... Workflow and Style are very different, you can have the same workflow but your style is determined by your taste. Her workflow is solid and delivers time and time again. This class should be in everyone's dashboard hands down.

Kristine Pye

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question and take us through your "delivery" process, I found that extremely helpful. I have purchased two of Lisa's classes immediately after the live stream during Photoshop Week 2017 and was very excited to stream another set of lectures from Seattle. I will be purchasing the last two courses of Lisa's within the next 24 hours as I did just over a month ago. I find her classes to be absolutely brimming over with useful information--everything from the technique, her process, what other professionals in her work are doing, and **why** she chooses the methods she does in retouching. She is relatable and genuine, and her knowledge of the program and how to maximize efficiency while "skipping the actions" really reinforces the educational part of her courses. There are "easy way outs", but she emphasizes that you should understand the ways in which any adjustment effect the entire photo. These courses have helped me to move forward in my education, helping me to realize that with enough practice and good habit formation--such as naming every single layer every time-- that it is not irrational for me to make an effort in building a portfolio and a Master's degree with little-to-no- previous experience with the software. I am very appreciate. I hope to see more from Lisa in the future, but I have plenty to practice with for now! Thanks again, Kristine Pye

Jeff Robinson

Lisa Carney is amazing! She has a depth of knowledge of Photoshop, retouching techniques, and compositing that she shares in a fast, but straightforward, easy to follow, step by step manner. No matter what your level of expertise, you'll find gems, shortcuts, and methods in her teaching that you can practice and put to use to make your work stronger, faster, and cleaner. And with the bonus materials she graciously provides, including workbooks with her detailed steps, practice files of the images she uses in class, and before and after comparisons, you'll be on your way to improving your skills immediately. She's an accomplished retoucher and gifted teacher. If you have the opportunity to take one of her classes, take advantage of it!

Student Work