Portrait Retouching Workflow – Before&After

It is easy for any people who can afford a good camera and lenses to capture quality images that are sharp and crisp. And when they capture a good moment it might be a good quality image. However, to turn a good quality image into art requires some portrait retouching. In this post, I will show some of my before and after image that I took when I was doing a project with Evan’s Hairstyling School, creating 10 editorial prints highlighting their hairstyling school and printed them as 36’x24′ prints.

There are 6 steps in my portrait retouching workflow:

  1. Skin/Eyes
  2. Changing background
  3. Curve layers to enhance the contrast
  4. Colour Lookup table to create a mood
  5. Vignette or other adjustment
  6. Sharpen

There are a mixture retouching workflow from the awesome production: PHLEARN, PIXMPERFECT, Chris Knight, Lindsey Adler, and Lara Jade.

This is an image of Max our male model. I had a black background and use a broad light split lighting so I can properly highlight the shine on the hair. The background is gray and it was shot on .CR2 raw.

I first clean up his skin using healing brush tool and go through frequency separation process, then I enhance the colours and sharpness of the eye. Then I change the background colour to fit the desired mood which is a winter cool blue and cyan colour. Remember to use the select object function so you won’t change the colour of the model. Then I used curve layers to create the depth and contrast in the image. You can see in the second image below I used several curve mask with different ratio of light from bright to dark in order to create proper and controllable contrast.  Then I used several colour lookup table including, FILMSTOCK, FOGGYNIGHT, and CRISP_WINTER to finalize my mood. Lastly, I added vignette so people will look at the center of this image and sharpened the image.

Zhiyang Tsai-before&after-Max-2

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Zhiyang Tsai-before&after-Max-1

Before and after with Mikayla. The workflow is very similar except I used different colour lookup table including: CRISP_WARM to have a warmer tone.


Zhiyang Tsai-before&after-Mikayla-1

Zhiyang Tsai-before&after-Mikayla-3

Zhiyang Tsai-before&after-Mikayla-2

Before and After picture with Tess. Same workflow as above. It just comes down to practice what type of image you want and it changes the filter part of workflow.

Zhiyang Tsai-before&after-Tess-1

Zhiyang Tsai-before&after-Tess-2

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