7 Skin Retouching mistakes to avoid

Flawless yet realistic-looking skin is a sign of a professional skin re-toucher. As we are moving towards an era of social media and screen-content, there are more possibilities and platforms through which your work can reach to the viewers. In case you are working as a lifestyle or fashion photographer, in this competitive era, your work should speak for itself.

A very crucial part of fashion, editorial or lifestyle photography is professional post production that can make or break an image.

The key factor to keep in mind is that we are not aiming for plastic / rubbery skin but skin closest to the texture of natural human skin. It is most important to preserve the natural details of human skin.

Here are 7 common skin retouching mistakes that beginner skin re-touchers often make and now that you’ll know them, its time to avoid them to make sure your images make a cut through the noise.

1. Not working with Layers

This is the first step when you start your first skin re touching job. Keep everything on separate layers in photoshop. In this way your image will be non-destructive, if you make any mistakes you can always go back. Each mark you can hide or reveal back. Every color adjustment can be controlled just by a few clicks. Always work on layers.

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2. Clean first – color correct it later

Always, do the cleaning job first. Clean the unwanted marks and other fixes. Clean up your background, any ghost hair, facial hair etc. Color correcting the image comes way later to that.

3. Forgetting details like veins, skin cracks, lips or wrinkles.

Often you’ll see a portrait with perfectly done skin but the retoucher forgot to remove the veins in the eyes, or veins on hands or green veins visible through the skin or cracked lips. A small healing brush (or clone whichever one you use) can make a big difference and it works as your finishing touches.

4. Forgetting about the skull structure when brushing

See how human skull is constructed. Study the human anatomy. The skin is wrapped on the skull and the pores and skin texture are wrapped in a certain direction. When brushing on the skin, follow the natural direction of the skin.

5. Overdoing the cheek bones or jawline

A very common mistake among the beginners is to not know where to stop. It’s very easy to end up over doing the high cheek bones or jaw line just because you want to exaggerate them. Often I see retouchers making them a bit too obvious or shiny that makes the whole face structure look very plastic-y. Follow the heights and slopes of the face and keep it closest to a natural look. More importantly if you are using natural light for portraits, it’s important that you follow the direction of skin and keep the softness of natural light falling on the skin. I have compiled an article with examples on how to use natural light for portraits, do check it out as i have included some BTS shots of my setup as well as example photos of natural light portraits.

6. Removing freckles or birth marks

Model: Anna – Photo by Mustafa Sheikh

Specially freckles, please don’t!. These add life and sense of “natural” to your portrait. Even if there are many creases on the skin, remove some and leave some just so the face looks more natural and not all plastic.

Remember we have to make it look like Good skin not Fake skin.

7. Last but not the least, not zooming out often.

Its very normal to get away with all the zoomed in details and working on face (or another body part) part by part and forgetting about the whole picture.

Remember we have to keep zooming out to see the whole picture and make sure each area goes and merges with another area smoothly. Also the over all photo must look like one piece. Zooming out gives you the full picture so through out your work process make sure you zoom in and out often.

Need help or have any questions? Drop a comment below or write to me on my Instagram (@mustafa_sheikh)

If you’d like to check out my photography portfolio. Please visit my Portfolio site by clicking here

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Mustafa Sheikh on Instagram

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