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What Are the Best Tips for Portrait Retouching?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2016
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The best specific methods and tips for portrait retouching can often depend a great deal on what program a person is using to perform the retouching. Some general tips, however, are that retouching should typically begin with broad strokes to adjust color, contrast, and balance within a portrait prior to detail work. Any details that are retouched or corrected should be done in a way that enhances the portrait without making the person appear too plastic or touched up. Some common detail corrections done in portrait retouching include reducing red eye, eliminating wrinkles, blemishes, and stray hairs, and enhancing highlights in the portrait.

Portrait retouching consists of methods by which a person can make a photograph of someone appear more perfect and ideal. This is usually done using computer software such as Adobe® Photoshop®. The exact program a person uses for portrait retouching can have an impact on the best ways to use such programs. A number of tutorials can be found on the Internet and in books that provide information on specific tools to use in a particular program.

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There are some general tips and methods that can be used in portrait retouching, however, and such retouching should typically begin with large corrections. The color balance and saturation, for example, should be one of the first things that is adjusted or corrected, and the contrast and dark and light levels in an image should also be dealt with early. Some trial and error may be required in this type of portrait retouching, as the best settings for each value may vary from picture to picture. It is often best to use software that displays a history of actions, so changes can easily be reversed if desired.

Once these general corrections are made, then portrait retouching usually continues with detail work. Different software programs may have different names for the tools that can be used for these corrections, but it is usually best to use a clone or stamp tool to fix or remove any wrinkles, blemishes, and stray hairs that may be unsightly in the picture. These tools use different parts of an image as a source for changes that are made, making it easier to ensure skin color and tone matches.

The eyes in a portrait are often one of the most important areas, so any redness should be removed, and the color of the irises should be slightly enhanced. Similar details, such as highlights in the hair and lips, can also be enhanced to make the portrait more vibrant. All of these portrait retouching details should be done on a separate layer from the image itself, so it is easier to revert any mistakes and see the difference that corrections make on the portrait.

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