How did I go from the before to the after picture here in less than two minutes?

First let’s discuss what’s happened. I adjusted the exposure, vibrancy and definition in Aperture. Then I exported to Photoshop. There I removed all catchlights from the eyes except for one using the Clone Stamp. I darkened the pupils, and brought out her natural eye color using the Burn Tool and Saturation Tool. I removed blemishes (don’t remove birth marks) with the Patch Tool and then used a remarkable new product called onOne Plug-in Suite 4 to do the rest.

Using the plug-in, I also smoothed and softened her skin, further drawing attention to the eyes, vignetted the background, boosted saturation for all colors except the skin and did all this on a duplicate layer that I can further tweak if I want to control opacity, etc.

Using onOne’s “Magic Portrait Fixer” preset, I was able to do at least half the work in about 15 seconds.

You can use this illustration to see two things…

1) You shouldn’t overdo retouching (especially when the client is looking for a traditional actor’s headshot as she was here.)

2) You don’t have to spend hours to improve a portrait.

NOTE: I could have done much of this in Aperture, but I had to go to Photoshop anyway to use the onOne Plugin so I “round-tripped” to Photoshop and back into Aperture for final output.

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This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store

Join the conversation! 24 Comments

  1. I’ll have to take a look at that app to compare it to what I use now; imagenomic’s portraiture. It works in a similar way and gives lots of fine tuning. Anything that gives good results and takes some of the hassle out of PP is worth it. Thanks for the info on your work-flow.

    Reply
  2. I’ll have to take a look at that app to compare it to what I use now; imagenomic’s portraiture. It works in a similar way and gives lots of fine tuning. Anything that gives good results and takes some of the hassle out of PP is worth it. Thanks for the info on your work-flow.

    Reply
  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the not-overdoing reminder and examples. The proliferation of perfect pod-people pictures is really creepy.

    Reply
  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the not-overdoing reminder and examples. The proliferation of perfect pod-people pictures is really creepy.

    Reply
  5. Thank you! I have been touching up potraits lately and was wondering about expert advice.

    Reply
  6. Thank you! I have been touching up potraits lately and was wondering about expert advice.

    Reply
  7. This post brings up a debate I’ve been having with myself. I take lots of “portrait” style picture, especially of my daughter, and I’ve been debating weather to completely remove all the catch lights from the eyes or not. Scott chose to leave one in the dead center here. I go back and forth on this but I tend to remove all them if it’s not too difficult (depending on the shot). Though the pictures might look slightly less natural with them all removed, I tend to find the white spots very visually distracting for me and the picture more pleasing when they are removed. What do others think?

    Reply
  8. This post brings up a debate I’ve been having with myself. I take lots of “portrait” style picture, especially of my daughter, and I’ve been debating weather to completely remove all the catch lights from the eyes or not. Scott chose to leave one in the dead center here. I go back and forth on this but I tend to remove all them if it’s not too difficult (depending on the shot). Though the pictures might look slightly less natural with them all removed, I tend to find the white spots very visually distracting for me and the picture more pleasing when they are removed. What do others think?

    Reply
  9. Nice little tutorial. The before and after examples are great. And I like that you’ve kept the editing minimal and the final images don’t have that overdone, satiny look.

    Reply
  10. Nice little tutorial. The before and after examples are great. And I like that you’ve kept the editing minimal and the final images don’t have that overdone, satiny look.

    Reply
  11. Here’s one way to avoid “over doing it” in Photoshop:

    Make copy of your background layer. Apply your portrait filter to the copy layer (BTW: I use the GEM airbrush filter http://asf.com/products/plugins/airpro/pluginAIRPRO/). Then just blend the copy layer with the original layer by moving the opacity slider on the copy layer. I find this produces very realistic results with many types of filters. It works particularly well when airbrushing.

    Reply
  12. Here’s one way to avoid “over doing it” in Photoshop:

    Make copy of your background layer. Apply your portrait filter to the copy layer (BTW: I use the GEM airbrush filter http://asf.com/products/plugins/airpro/pluginAIRPRO/). Then just blend the copy layer with the original layer by moving the opacity slider on the copy layer. I find this produces very realistic results with many types of filters. It works particularly well when airbrushing.

    Reply
  13. thank you for the tutorial. I tend to overdo portrait retouching. It is easy to get carried away with all of the little things you can clean up in photoshop. This showed that a simplified retouch can give very nice results.

    Reply
  14. thank you for the tutorial. I tend to overdo portrait retouching. It is easy to get carried away with all of the little things you can clean up in photoshop. This showed that a simplified retouch can give very nice results.

    Reply
  15. Does anyone know if the onOne plug-in is what was used to soften the “glarey” areas on the skin (especially in the second portrait)? That’s always something I have trouble getting rid of while keeping the skin looking natural. Thanks for this tip Scott!

    Reply
  16. Does anyone know if the onOne plug-in is what was used to soften the “glarey” areas on the skin (especially in the second portrait)? That’s always something I have trouble getting rid of while keeping the skin looking natural. Thanks for this tip Scott!

    Reply
  17. Thanks for the tips Scott.

    I have a few friends roped in for this weekend to help me with practice my potrait work and I have asked them based on the fact they have freckles.

    Freckles is something I love seeing on a person in my work. It gives the person a more real look and breaks the face up just enough to be intresting.

    Sometimes flawless smooth porcelin skin is not always the best…

    Reply
  18. Thanks for the tips Scott.

    I have a few friends roped in for this weekend to help me with practice my potrait work and I have asked them based on the fact they have freckles.

    Freckles is something I love seeing on a person in my work. It gives the person a more real look and breaks the face up just enough to be intresting.

    Sometimes flawless smooth porcelin skin is not always the best…

    Reply
  19. These are awesome tutorials. I love subscribing to the blog because these are so readable and helpful. Thank you very much.

    Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I would love to see some of your Nik Color Efex Pro tips (plug-in for Aperture). I bought it recently, at least in part due to your excellent review. I love it so far but I am sure would benefit from some of your simple tips.

    Reply
  20. These are awesome tutorials. I love subscribing to the blog because these are so readable and helpful. Thank you very much.

    Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I would love to see some of your Nik Color Efex Pro tips (plug-in for Aperture). I bought it recently, at least in part due to your excellent review. I love it so far but I am sure would benefit from some of your simple tips.

    Reply
  21. How could you do all of this in aperture without using photoshop? Are there any plug-in’s available for aperture which would help?

    Reply
  22. How could you do all of this in aperture without using photoshop? Are there any plug-in’s available for aperture which would help?

    Reply
  23. @Scott Could you recommend a book on portrait photography? Thanks

    Reply
  24. @Scott Could you recommend a book on portrait photography? Thanks

    Reply

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