Quickie Eye Enhancement : Part 2
Just in case you missed part one a few days ago, here is the link to part one: Quickie Eye Enhancement : Part 1
Here I will concentrate on areas around the eyes which are easily just as important to retouch properly as the eyes themselves. In fact, on some people the skin surrounding the eyes can be the most difficult and important part to retouch without going too far. (Generally women with noticeable wrinkles don’t look so great when you completely remove said wrinkles so just don’t do it.) It is very simple and the results have generated praise by a number of photographers who were impressed with the eye retouching I had done for them saying it looked very real.
First off, if you don’t already have a “Background copy” layer from part one, go ahead and make one now. (Drag the background layer to the new layer button and it will automatically generate the copy and place it above the original background layer.) Now create a blank layer above the background copy layer. We will be doing all of our retouching on that layer so be sure it is selected.
Now with the blank layer as your active layer, select the healing brush tool (looks like a bandage) and set the sample point from either the cheek or forehead somewhere you can work with the tool without going into the hair or some other facial feature. Also be sure the “Sample: Current & Below” is the mode at the top of the screen. Otherwise you will be sampling the blank layer and that is just frustrating. (I’ve had a few bad days and forgot all about having changed it the day before leading to a brief rage until I figure it out what I did.) Now start “painting” with the skin from the sample point you made roughly how I show here. (I’ve used the clone tool for illustration purposes only.) Once you finish your stroke the software will neatly blend the tones making the person appear very flat and plastic like. If you make a mistake, just undo and try again.
I highly suggest having a graphics tablet for this type of retouching. Not only does it allow you much more fine control of movement, you can also select pen pressure and size dynamics so you can easily get a very small stroke in for detail areas and a real big area in the same motion by varied pressure. Even the inexpensive “Bamboo” tablets are quite good and are well worth the money when doing retouching on a regular basis. (Though they do take some getting used to. Just remember to hold the pen tool as if it were a real pen, you don’t need a gorilla grip, otherwise your hand will tire and cramp quickly.)
I have retouched both eyes and a little bit down into the cheeks and up the nose and slightly above the eye on the left to lighten the shadowed area. (I find that the dark triangle between the inner corner of the eye, bridge of the nose and bottom of the eyebrow looks better if you lighten them more so I try to sample lighter parts of the face for this area to brighten it more.) So far it looks better but still too fake like a mannequin for my taste. Remember, EVERYONE has some wrinkles and folds so we don’t want to completely smooth the features. What I do next will vary depending on the person being retouched and how you feel it should look. On the layer you just “painted” with their own skin, lower the layer opacity. I find that somewhere between 35% and 65% works best. For this example I used 50% opacity.
A good rule of thumb is, turn it down to where you think it looks good, then turn it down a little more.
You will notice the natural fold under the eye now becomes slightly visible again but the dark circle that was noticeable before is now mostly masked. Also the skin texture still looks normal since we cloned it from their own face. Again, the percentage of opacity will vary but don’t over cook your retouching. More so on the eyes which are generally the most important part of a portrait.
FYI, this technique also works for any facial wrinkles and discolorations as well as things like scars or moles that a client may want toned down but not removed completely.
For the Before & After, I have finished retouching the face on the right. Notice how natural everything looks. You shouldn’t even know the image was retouched by looking at it and I think this example is no exception.