It Can Always Be Better

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ask The Retoucher #58 Good Teachers, Photo Retouching Shop-Talk

Eric revisits a photo restoration (See Ask The Retoucher #57) with damage caused by condensation between the glass and the print. John described the methods he used to retouch his photo and Eric offered this critique:

Create paths around the areas needing work:
  • Be sure to close your paths. 
  • To clean up a path that was not properly closed, use the Pen Tool, holding Control key down (Apple key on the Mac) and drag to delete the points that are not closed.
  • Alt Option/Click to close the path.

Adjust contrast on the face:
  1. Soften the selection layer
  2. Adjust shadows and mid-tones on Adjustment Layer
  3. Desaturate all of the color with a Black and White Adjustment Layer or a Hue and Saturation Adjustment Layer to eliminate the color casts.
  4. Use the Healing Brush over the hard edge of the selection.
  5. Use a High Contrast Adjustment Layer to build up the image, adjusting the mid-tones.
  6. Use the Paintbrush to bring back some of the surrounding areas.

Some of the video is missing sound due to Eric's microphone being off! Some of important points for advanced dust and scratch removal:

  1. Duplicate the Background Layer
  2. Go to Filter => Noise => Dust & Scratches, set radius at 6, threshold at 0.
  3. In the History Pallet, click Previous State that says Duplicate Layer. Now the Dust & Scratches State is grayed out.
  4. Click the box next to the Dust & Scratches state.
  5. Grab the History Brush, using a brush that is a little bigger than the scratch in the face and brush over the scratches.

Marissa in California asked if photo restoration could be a good career choice. The answer is yes and no. You have to keep your expenses under control and carve out a niche in the business. There is much competition, including outsourcing overseas, which can put U.S. retouchers out of work.

Marissa also submitted a photo portrait she was struggling with. The first problem is that the photo has already been sharpened. In a situation like this, you should rescan the photo and turn the sharpening off because sharpening blows up all of the defects. If you cannot retrieve the original, then you will need to work with it in that condition.

  1. Draw a selection around the person to separate it from the background. Save the path and feather the selection at least 1 pixel.
  2. In Layer Pallete/Panel, make a new layer between the Background and Layer 1 and call it “white” and fill it with white.
  3. Begin to rebuild the missing pieces using Clone Stamp and other tools.
  4. Use Hue and Saturation to remove the color cast.
  5. For the lips, make a new blank Layer and use Paintbrush Tool to paint in the lips back in. Create another Layer and Use Motion Blur on the lips.
  6. For the teeth, use the same approach.
  7. Create a layer, called “mouth” to pull these layers together.

Please send your questions and problem photos, your location—and genealogical society affiliation if appropriate—to Eric for future "Ask The Retoucher" columns. Visit Photo Grafix online for more information.

Eric runs Photo Grafix, a humble photo-retouching studio in Evanston, Illinois (USA), making photo illustrations and improving photos for hundreds of people and companies worldwide. If he doesn't know the answer, he won't rest until he finds it. Eric Basir is at your service: With each "Ask The Retoucher" article, he'll help you successfully tackle your digital photographic problems. 

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