Customer Reviews: Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers Using Photoshop (Voices That Matter)
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on September 6, 2011
First of all, this book should not be called "Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers". It should be called "Fast and Easy Retouching for Professional Photographers". Many of the techniques in this book are useful, and especially if you're a Photoshop rookie, you'll probably benefit from learning them. But as Scott says himself in the intro, these aren't pro retouching techniques.

I also felt there was quite a bit of redundancy in this book. For example, nearly every retouch you do will involve working on a duplicate layer and then using layer masks and layer opacity to control where, and how much of your retouch shows through. This is a crucial step and Scott is right to include it, but he gives it a whole paragraph each time, as though you haven't already learned this step in every other chapter. Maybe this was done to allow a user to skip directly to any chapter, but I still think this could have been explained in detail just once, in the beginning, and then simply referred to.

I disagree with a few specific techniques: in one chapter, Scott recommends using the dodge/burn tools on a gray layer set to soft light mode, which is essentially painting black and white on that layer to adjust the underlying lights and darks. But this completely defeats the purpose of using the dodge/burn tools, which can be set to automatically only brighten your highlights and darken your shadows while ignoring adjacent pixels.

I wasn't thrilled with the final result of the neck retouch (featured on back cover); it looks rather phony and overly blurred to my eyes.

Since I called out one I didn't like, to be fair, I'll call out one I liked: eyelashes. I like the chapter on darkening/accentuating eyelashes.

Everything is cleary written and illustrated, and for the most part, these are useful techniques to learn, especially if you don't really want to learn how to master Photoshop - just get in and out. I have 10 years of experience working with portraits in Photoshop, and I found a few useful tips myself, so I think a novice would probably benefit from this book.
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on July 19, 2011
If you ever find yourself sat infront of your computer screen staring at some portrait shots you've taken, Photoshop open and saying "Now what?" or quite simply you want to make your portrait shots look their very best, then I can't say it any simpler than You Need This Book!

`Professional Portrait Retouching Techniques for Photographers using Photoshop' is the latest book by Photographer and Photoshop Guru Scott Kelby and in my own opinion this time he's out done himself and produced what I predict will become the Retouching Bible! Seriously...the book is that good!

With what appears to be an infinite supply of Photoshop books out there lining shelves in book stores it can be incredibly difficult knowing which ones/s to get especially when each and every one promises to `share the secrets of the pros'. The risk of possibly wasting your hard earned cash on a book that you'll glance through disappointingly and then never pick up again is real, and one that I'm sure most of us have done on more than one occasion.

However, this latest book changes things. We now have a book that not only gives us techniques that are easy to follow and apply but a book that eliminates the feeling of `What do I do now?'

This new book is full to the brim of techniques that work and work extremely well and what's more they're written and explained in a way that makes them easy to understand and then apply to your own work.

If you're familiar with Scott's Digital Photography Book series [Link] and the one page, one tip style then this is kind of written in the same way. Now obviously I don't mean that each technique takes just one page to explain but what I do mean is that the techniques don't drag on and confuse the heck out of you; Scott gets to the point and in a way that feels like he's there with you..."Do this, now do that...there you go!" Simple!

Some folks have `complained' in the past about Scott's humour in his writing but I think even `they' are going to be impressed this time. I don't know if it's an intentional decision on Scott's behalf but this latest book does seem to be written in a way that's slightly different to what we've become accustomed to, but that's definitely a good thing. Personally I like Scott's writing style...I'm a very visual person so for me to read, I need to be entertained as well as informed but this latest book will definitely appeal to all.

So what does the book cover?
The book is made up of 7 Chapters each covering a different area of retouching and on most occasions showing more than one technique to achieve the same/similar result so you can choose which fits in best with your way of working...

Chapter 1: Retouching Eyes

Increasing Contrast in the Iris
Darkening the Outer Rim of the Iris
Adding More Life to the Eyes
Enhancing and/or Creating Catch Lights
Brightening the Whites of the Eyes
Removing Eye Veins
Changing Eye Colour
Reducing Dark Circles Under Eyes
Making Eyes Larger (or Smaller)
Swapping One Eye for the Other
Enhancing Eyelashes
Creating Beautiful Eyebrows
Making Fuller Eyebrows
Darkening the Eyebrows
Sharpening Eyes to Make Them Sparkle

Chapter 2: Retouching Skin

Removing Blemishes
How to Avoid Plastic-Looking Skin
Basic "Quickie" Skin Softening
Softening Skin While Retaining Texture
Softening Skin & Adding Texture Back In
High Pass Skin Softening
Softening Skin Using Channels
Reducing or Removing Wrinkles
Removing Hot Spots
Balance Skin Tones
Reducing Stubble
Applying Digital Makeup
Creating Porcelain-Looking Skin
Sharpening Portraits

Chapter 3: Reshaping Facial Features

Reshaping the Face and Head
Making Features More Symmetrical
Sculpting the Face by Dodging & Burning

Chapter 4: Retouching Hair

Adding Highlights to Hair
Removing Stray Hair Strands
Fixing Gaps in Hair
Changing Hair Colour
Darkening a Part Line
Hiding Roots

Chapter 5: Retouching the Lips and Mouth

Making Lips Larger
Creating Glossy Lips
Applying or Tweaking Lipstick
Changing the Shade of Lip Colour
Repairing Teeth
Whitening Teeth and Reducing Yellowing

Chapter 6: Slimming and Trimming

Overall Slimming
Slimming One Person in a Group Shot
Reducing a Double Chin & Thinning the Face
Thinning Arms or Legs
Getting Great Abs
Fixing Clothes (Lumps, Bagging & Folds)

Chapter 7: My 5-, 15-, and 30 Minute Retouches

Retouching Checklist
My Five-Minute Retouch
My 15-Minute Retouch
My 30-Minute Retouch

Now this Chapter is the icing on the cake! Sure it's ok to know all these different techniques but when do you apply them, and in what order and more to the point how do you decide what needs doing anyway?

In Chapter 7 Scott goes through 3 retouches from start to finish...each more involved than the next; a 5 minute, a 15 minute and a 30 minute retouch covering techniques explained throughout the book and what's more there's an included `Check List' that you can use during your own retouching that goes through the kind of questions you should be asking yourself and that will help you to decide what to do.

As Photographers we should all aim to get the best `out of camera' images we can but it doesn't stop there! The money and time we've all invested, and continue to do so, to improve our skills still doesn't take away the fact that EVERY image requires some form of editing...even if it's adding a little more contrast and some sharpening.

Being proficient in Photoshop is all part of being a photographer just as knowing what to do in the dark room was in the days of film and this book will give you all you need to finish off your portraits and show them off at their very best.

No matter how proficient you may be in Photoshop you will DEFINITELY learn some valuable techniques amongst the books 384 pages, oh and although the book is written in such a way that you can dive into any section you want, be sure NOT to skip the introduction as there's some valuable hints and tips plus details of the book's accompanying website that includes downloads for you to use too.

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on April 4, 2011
Scott Kelby's best book so far!...
and the very best portrait retouching book for photographers on the market today.

This book is NOT for you if...

You are a professional full time retoucher. The techniques Scott demonstrates are primarily for photographers who retouch their own photos. I'm not saying retouchers won't benefit from this book. I know quite a few pro retouchers that could learn a thing or two from this book, but this book is more focused on the needs of photographers. Those who want to make their photography look as professional, polished and above all, as competitive as they can. Scott's techniques are simple, straight forward, and easy to follow. Best of all they are FAST. I do some work as a high end retoucher and it is not uncommon to spend a day or two retouching one photo. Scott discusses these high end retouching techniques but does not dwell on them. Scott's techniques are geared toward 99% of the photography produced today by portrait, wedding, and commercial photographers. Photographers who need to make their photos look their best in a reasonable amount of time.

What I like best about this book...

Scott has provided an extremely thorough check list for retouching photos. One of the questions I hear all the time is, "How do I know what I need to fix in a photo?" Well Scott's check list has you covered. He lists about 50 items or so that are commonly retouched, everything from sharpening eyes, to reducing hot spots, to body sculpting is listed . Scott also points out, very importantly, that you are probably not going to actually retouch everything on the list. You might have a photo that only needs two items from the list retouched or you might have to do twenty, but you will most likely never have to retouch everything on this list. The idea is you can go through the list and make note of what needs to be addressed and what doesn't.

I also really like Scott's, "12 Things you need to know to make your Retouching Easier". My favorite piece of advice from the "12 Things", is "#2: Walk Away after a while: If you've been retouching for a while, you start seeing everything as a problem to be retouched, and after about an hour, most folks start to over retouch and not realize it..." I wish I would of had this advice ten years ago!

Another really helpful part of the book is Scott's retouching workflows. Scott offers, "The 5-Minute Retouch", "The 15-Minute Retouch", and "The 30-Minute Retouch". These are perfect for the working photographer! Simply pick the workflow you have time for. You want to show something quick to your portrait client while they are still in your studio? Try Scott's "5-Minute Retouch" to whet their appetite. You'll be amazed the quality you can produce in just five minutes!

All of this information is provided in Scott's easy conversational manor with a big dose of his wacky sense of humor! What I have always liked best about Scott's books, DVDs, live classes, etc., is that Scott always makes you feel like your a friend just sitting down at the computer with him, having a few laughs and learning some really cool stuff! Maybe even have a beer or two...(Scott doesn't drink so I'll have his too, hic ;-)

In summary...

If you are a photographer that does any kind of people shooting, whether it's portraits, weddings, or commercial, and you are doing your own retouching, then you need this book. I guarantee your photos are going to look amazing!

A Quick Disclaimer:

I was the "Technical Editor" on this book. The tech editor gets to go over the book looking for any Photoshop goofs or maybe a procedure that isn't clear, etc. There were very few problems I was able to point out to Scott, after all he is, Scott Kelby! To be completely honest, it was a cake job and I was definitely overpaid. Don't tell Scott ;-)
So my point is I worked for Scott on this book and you might think I am biased. Maybe I am biased, but look at it this way who better than I, someone who is both a professional photographer and retoucher, someone who has read all of Scott's books (or at least skimmed them ;-), to know that this is Scott's best book to date? As a mater of fact I at least skim almost every retouching book that gets published each year.
Now I know a few cynical types will post comments on how I am brown nosing or sucking up to the boss... so be it. Long before I ever received a paycheck from Scott Kelby's company, I was a Scott Kelby fan.
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on December 10, 2011
This is a good tech book on the basics of retouching, standard Kelby fare. Full of goofy photoshop coolness and glibness (would you *really* name a chapter on slimming and shading "Slim Shady"?

But it's easy to touch up beautiful models. What about that HS senior with real facial issues? What about facial hair on aging women? He does not address real problems, only the kind that appear obvious on a 300.00/hour fashion model. I was looking for something that dealt with real time people. Like the beautiful HS senior whose cheek erupted the morning of the shoot? Crappy makeup that they LOVE. We don't all have hair and makeup specialists on our shoots.

The techniques he covers are standard, well explained, and of course I learned and continue to use the book as a reference, but for the real problems - you're on your own.
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on April 22, 2011
The title makes it sound like this book might be for professional portrait retouchers. Just the opposite--it shows the pros' secrets to the rest of us. This book shows step-by-step, detailed instructions for making any subject look better in your photos. Whether you're a beginner or a Photoshop whiz, you'll learn something on every page of this book. It may be Mr. Kelby's best (I know, that's saying a lot!).

The organization is genius. Have a problem with the subject's lips? Go to the section called "Lips." Each tip is fairly short, but added together they will give you a comprehensive arsenal of Photoshop methods. There are over 80 pages on eye effects alone. Sometimes Scott will show two different methods, and tell you when to use each. Each tip concludes with before and after photos, making it easy to see the effect.

That would be enough, right? But Scott also includes a retouching checklist, to help you quickly decide what needs work. He also shows examples of how he might retouch a photo in 5, 15, and 30 minutes, so you can see what he concentrates on first.

But wait, there's more! You can download the actual photos Scott used in each tip, and work along with him. Then, he gives you another photo to try the same technique on.

Oh, and there are brushes (some from the Brushmaster, Corey Barker) you can download to use on, say, eyelashes (so you don't have to build them yourself).

This book will be sitting right next to my computer any time I have a portrait to work on. From a quick hair fix to slimming arms and legs, it's all here.

If you ever take photos of people, you need this book!
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on April 12, 2011
I'm just a do it yourself, at home, amateur photographer. I have an online jewelry shop, and need to take and retouch portraits of jewelry on my "model" (meaning me with a hidden remote shutter release). I've just struggled along with the retouching, with pretty mediocre results. This book is really a life saver! It's everything a great book should be. Plenty of picture references, easy to read guides through every process, alternate approaches, and just tons of techniques. Being able to download the eyelash brushes from the website was especially handy too! I posted a before/after pic of my first experiment. I don't mean to make the author cringe, as it's just my first attempt and definitely not done with the hand of a pro, but I was pretty impressed none the less! I'm sure with practice I'll get better and better. I can't say enough great things about this book. Moreover, the techniques used for retouching portraits can be applied to retouching other things, in my case stand alone jewelry, which is a tremendously valuable resource to me. I'm sure those with experiences above myself would benefit from the book as it's so comprehensive, as well as being easy enough to understand for those who are relatively new to photoshop. Well done!
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on May 11, 2011
This book is just perfect for Scott's target market. Photographers who aren't professional retouchers but who need to be darned good at photoshop and retouching in order to process photos for their clients.

I have spiral the bound book that came with the subscription to NAPP - and as usual with Scott's books I find he is the master of clear and comprehensive presentation. He also anticipates very well those steps the reader might find difficult. One technique calls for the pen tool - a tool I stay away from as it does not work in an intuitive manner. Just as I'm thinking 'I'll use something else to make my selection' - I read the next sentence where Scott says he knows the pen tool can be tricky so he has made a video that we can view. Viewed the video - again it's very clear. Now I know how to use the pen tool and I can go right back to my 'eyebrow' task.

I have already learned several techniques that have improved my retouching - especially the 'high pass skin blur' and using the 'screen' mode for lightening. These techniques have literally resulted in photo orders - so for me this book is totally worth the price of admission.

If you don't know any photoshop at all - you'll need a beginner's course first - training videos are the best way I find. Otherwise if you understand layers, blend modes and tools - you're good to go.

No I don't work for Scott! I'm just a middle-aged lady photographer in Toronto - and I don't really write reviews - although I love reading them. But this book is just so excellent I just had to give credit where it's due. Bravo Mr. Kelby!
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on June 15, 2011
I am not interested in reading the detailed nuances of how to smooth skin from wordy books taking a thousand steps to do one thing. In steps this great QUICK guide to retouching photos that is easy to reference, gets to the point and JUST WORKS. I have this book open in my PC Kindle app while I am retouching for quick reference. I refer to it for all sorts of retouching. This is a must have for the rest of us.
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on May 9, 2011
If you just began getting your feet wet with Photoshop and know little or nothing about how to retouch photographs of people this book will be perfect for you. If you already are perfectly comfortable with Photoshop and use it daily, and you are happy with the retouching work you already do but want to expand your arsenal of techniques you may still find some useful nuggets here but you will have to wade through a lot of rudimentary stuff like "push B for the Brush tool" liberally mixed in with the steps to some great techniques.

The book is basically six chapters, each containing a number of tutorials (again, step by step - push this button then push that button then set this amount to XYZ) for each technique. In most cases he just shows you one way to do something. However, to my delight, he explains a number of different methods of skin softening and a few on sharpening.

Along with the book you gain access to all the photographs in the book used for demonstrating and practicing the techniques. There's also a nice tutorial video on the pen tool and making selections. At the end of the book there is a retouching checklist you can go through for each of your future projects, and better yet, you get access to a Photoshop plugin panel with that checklist.

Overall I think this purchase was well worth it and encourage anyone but the impatient intermediate retouchers and advanced retouchers to pick up a copy.
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on December 16, 2011
I am a photography graduate and now just getting started in the business as a portrait photographer. I knew my way around photoshop to some degree. But, a lot of my retouching was through trial and error and guess work as I had very little schooling on photoshop. Getting this book, was one of the best things I did. Now, I can use professional techniques for a much more polished look in my images. The instructions are detailed and clear with great step by step pictures following the process from start to finish with each technique. I have found the 'skin' chapter of the book particularly useful. I have been practicing the techniques for taking out blemishes and softening the skin and it really works for me. The book shows various techniques for doing this so you have a few options from a quick softening technique to a more detailed one. The pictures are great too. You can really see what the beginning, middle and end images look like. I love Scott Kelby! He is a wonderful photography/photoshop educator. I found the book had a clear, organised layout. I now have a Scott Kelby online training subscription, which I also recommend because it offers many classes on various aspects of photography. To conclude- GET THIS BOOK! It's a bargain for the information it offers.
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