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Too smooth by half


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Too smooth by half

27 Jan 2021 3:00AM   Views : 559 Unique : 351


This isnít really a rant about either skin softening or old Etonians, though there may be a sideswipe at both along the way. It might have something to do with the state of the pavement outside, and it may also derive from something my wife (unkindly) reminded me that I said (unkindly) around 1978, and which I will never reveal to anyone.


Letís start with skin smoothingÖ And the senseless application Ė Kirstie Black (top) has a beautiful complexion, as can be seen from the detail extractor version I did with Nik Efex (second down). There are small scars on her elbow, a couple of shadows in her armpit, but thereís nothing else that needs correction. Both Imagenomic (which does lovely things for art nudes, I find, in the right light) and another software package make less of the image than a straight edit.


So the first thing is to ask yourself whether you need to do any smoothing (unless you are, truly, addicted to rendering all skin without pores and Barbie-perfect and unrealÖ) Minimalism really works well. A little gentle work with the clone tool, the spot healing brush tool and the (possibly less well-known) healing brush tool will usually deal with all the problems of a poor complexion.


Itís worth mentioning that the healing brush tool requires you to take a sample (just like the clone tool), but then applies the texture from that area to anywhere that you apply it Ė it doesnít map the image in the same way as the clone tool. Itís therefore excellent for Ė say Ė reducing the shine of a slightly-greasy nose or cheek, or gently removing shadows below a modelís eyes.

Similarly, the trick with the clone tool is to turn down the opacity, and clone from different places around an imperfection by resetting the sampling area. This gives a gentler look, and tends to help avoid the problem of patterns and textures obviously repeating, which is often a giveaway for editing.


Iím still learning to use Imagenomic properly, and understand the finesse of its controls. As with the image of Twiggi50 below, it doesnít remove or conceal texture so much as it gives a different look, which Iím still struggling to describe, even to myself. However, whatever it does looks very good indeed, and Iím looking forward to exploring and using it further.


As is usual with this sort of plugin, it does a decent job of selecting skin areas for itself, and you can refine its selection if you want or need to. But you can also switch it off, so that the effect is applied to the whole image: the company suggest this can look good with hair, but thereís no reason to limit its use to portraits, as the snow scene demonstrates Ė you may be hard-pressed to say what is not quite right, but itís pretty lovely to my eye, enhancing the feel of the picture, and the road surface that proved too smooth by half for a hapless Mercedes driver the other day.

But whether he was a smug, polished and entitled scholar from Lower Slough School, history doesnít relate.


And, by way of a test, I need to write a bit about the site T&Cs, and see what placing a LINK in the middle of a sentence does, so HERE's a second link back to my daily post.

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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
27 Jan 2021 3:02AM
Insomnia again - hence the terribly early post.

And apologies, almost, for several versions of Kirstie: but it seems sensible to show variations on a single image, rather than trying to compare a Pink Lady with an Outspan.
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
27 Jan 2021 3:32AM
Sleep is over rated! Lol

I agree entirely about the over use of skin softening. But for those who want the softening AND pores, then Portrait Pro can give you both at the same time!

As for the clone tool, another wrinkle when using it is to select the lighten or darken option from the dropdown menu (with or without varying opacity) as appropriate. So, for example in the darken mode it will only darken the lightest pixels - another way to fill shiny noses.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
27 Jan 2021 3:42AM
I still love a good night's sleep... And not feeling tired!

I suppose part of the whole discussion should be about the subtlety thing, and the way that so many people feel bound to turn everything up to 11, just because it's on the dial... And there's definitely a fashion for plastic skin, now fading a bit, I think. What I found intriguing, the other day, was a rather heavily-processed nude with the unflattering creases around the waist (that happen so easily) left untouched.
AltImages Avatar
AltImages 3 4
27 Jan 2021 4:28AM
I'm wide awake too! More night owl than insomnia though Smile

I think that I can fail at both ends of the spectrum. Most of my images have lots of hopefully invisible Photoshopping. But few years ago, in trying to produce 'gritty' images, quite a few of my finished people pictures had that HDR look similar to your second image of Kirstie. But the advantage of digital is that it allows us to revisit the images at a later date. At the other end of the spectrum, although not plastic skin as such, I must admit that I still tend to tweak the faces of even the prettiest models. I feel guilty about it, but I still do it. OK they might be 'better' in some ways to some viewers, but they're certainly not 'truthful' renditions, like in this before and after shot: https://www.dropbox.com/s/rneiwobnsf3z2qt/e90_S4B7773b4fter.jpeg?dl=0
Chrism8 Avatar
Chrism8 16 1.1k 34 England
27 Jan 2021 8:52AM
Kirsty O'natural for me John, i.e the first image warts and all Smile I do us PP a tad on a portrait / nude, but not keen on the plastic skin look at all.
chase Avatar
chase Plus
18 2.5k 682 England
27 Jan 2021 1:52PM
I am not overly keen on plastic looking skin, removing the odd blemish/spot/wrinkle is ok but overdone, plastic skin looks so very wrong and to that end, I do prefer the very first image of your model, possibly combined with some of the adjustments in the 4th version.

I trust the healing brush and the clone tool etc were all done on separate layers Wink
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
27 Jan 2021 6:12PM
You might assume that, Janet, but i couldn't possibly comment...
chase Avatar
chase Plus
18 2.5k 682 England
27 Jan 2021 6:27PM

Quote:but i couldn't possibly comment...

Hmmmmmmm Wink

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