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Forums > Digital Art and Retouching > Digital Art & Retouching: Rules, Resources and FAQ Search   Reply
Posts: 3,305
Fullerton, California, US

The Digital Arts and Retouching forums fall under the "Industry Forum" category and follow a more strict set of rules than other forums.  Please view the Forum Rules for more information. 

Structure of the Digital Arts and Retouching Forums

Digital Arts and Retouching Main Forum
The main forum is to be used for discussion of postproduction, digital arts, and topics directly relating to digital artists of various types goes here. Business discussions, concepts, how-to, and post-production issues are just some examples.

Because this is a Digital Art and Retouching forum, please try to concentrate on those aspects. While pre-production and production issues ("get it right in the camera") can't be ignored, they are not the focus of this forum. Please keep that in mind when responding, and realize that such responses may be removed.

Challenges, Contests, and Samples Subforum

Threads intended to be primarily demonstrations of results of retouching, manipulation, or digital art. Images which are posted in this forum must include a note describing the permitted use of the images, must have permission from the copyright user, and explicitly state that permission from the copyright holder has been granted for such use.

Contests and challenges go there. Images provided for others to experiment with/on also belong there.

Note: This is NOT a 'do my work for free' forum.

See that subforum's FAQ for more details.

Critiques Subforum

This is a forum to help people get retouching-only/manipulation-only critiques of their work.  If you’d like a critique of the image as a whole, please use the main Critique forum.

Before posting in that forum, you must read the subforum FAQ for the rules and restrictions, and agree to follow them.

What is different about the Industry forums?

In addition to the regular forum rules, there are two that apply specifically to Tier 3 Forums—Model Matters; Photography Talk; Hair, Makeup & Styling; and Digital Art and Retouching.

(31) No BS: While this is Model Mayhem, we would like to keep a nice balance between the mayhem and being resourceful.    This is where the "Industry Forums" come in to play.  All forums under this header are meant to be used for serious discussion only.  Please think before you post and only hit the submit button if you have a well thought out contribution.  Junk posts/threads do not belong here.  These forums will be heavily moderated by the Forum Mods.  If they feel someone is too much of a nuisance, the offender could be banned from the forums.

(32) No drama: Keep the drama out of these forums.  If you get into it with someone, please at least keep it civil.  Or else both parties will be brigged.

The No BS and No Drama rules, and the general site Do not Troll include--but are not limited to--posts similar to the following:

* 'In before the lock'
* 'Not this [bleep] again'
* 'Popcorn'
* 'Use Tri-X' in a thread about digitally converting to black-and-white
* 'Buy a Mac' in a "The color on my Windows machine isn't right" thread
* 'Shoot with a different model'€ in a retouching thread
* 'Get it right in camera' in a "How do I retouch this" thread.
* Hijacking a retouching thread to insist that your use of "Retouching" and "Editing" are the only correct ones.

Other discouraged practices include posts that only complain about spelling or grammar or correcting someone else'€™s corrections about spelling or grammar, inserting 'corrections' about terminology (e.g. 'retouch' vs 'edit') in threads where the intent is clear, etc.

Such posts have a long history of disrupting threads, and fall under the No BS rule as well as the No Hijacking and Don'€™t Troll site rules. Consider very carefully whether the post is a serious contribution before clicking on Reply.


If you want a critique of your image, please use one of the Critique forums. If you want a critique of the post-production work, please use the Digital Arts and Retouching Critique subforum. If you are tempted to give a critique of someone else's work other than those places, please remember site rule #2: No unsolicited critiques.

May 30 09 12:20 am  Link  Quote 
Posts: 3,305
Fullerton, California, US

FAQ Index

(More as people ask--what do YOU consider frequently asked?)

Where can I find a retoucher?

Where can I find images to retouch for practice?

Where can I post sample images for other people to work on?




Digital and Computer Technology

Digital Post-production

May 30 09 12:20 am  Link  Quote 
Posts: 3,305
Fullerton, California, US

Resources Index

There are many valuable resources both on and off Model Mayhem. Some of the less controversial ones include:

Copyright Information

You should have at least a familiarity with the laws in your country. It is worth nothing that every country is different, but that most follow international conventions, making them somewhat similar--but not identical, differing in default ownership, creation, registration, and duration.

United States Copyright Office
Canada: Copyright Law in Canada
UK: Intellectual Property Office for Copyright
Australia: Copyright Law in Australia

Note that the statutes themselves are not complete, and that case law may have an impact. Also note that privacy rights are not included in copyright law, and that those rights vary even within individual countries.

Please let us know if you have any additions or changes to this list.
May 30 09 12:20 am  Link  Quote 
Posts: 3,305
Fullerton, California, US

Digital Noise

Noise in digital files is due to physical limitations on the camera, primarily the sensor itself, but partially the rest of the processing system. It can be minimized by the choice of camera, ISO setting, camera settings, and, for Raw files, how it's converted.

How do I prevent noise in my images?

All else being equal, a larger sensor will have less noise. Small sensor point-and-shoot cameras will have more noise than the larger dSLR sensors, and those cameras will have more than the medium format backs. That's assuming the same pixel count, ISO setting, and technology used.

All else being equal, newer technology will have less noise. A new sensor design will have less noise than an older one of the same size and pixel count.

All else being equal, a properly exposed image at a lower ISO setting will have less noise than one using a higher ISO setting. Use the lowest ISO setting available to get the capture.

Underexposure increases noise. In almost every camera, a properly exposed image at ISO 400 will have less noise than one that's underexposed 1 stop at ISO 200.

Sharpening increases noise unless you sharpen using a tool which masks minor variations. Photoshop's Unsharp Mask filter permits this via the Threshold setting; a higher setting exaggerates noise less. Some other new sharpening tools also provide this option; most older or basic ones do not.

How do I correct noise in images I've already taken?

Depending on the noise, much of it can be dealt with in Photoshop. There are some excellent tutorials on noise-reduction techniques available. Here are some to start with.

Sean Duggan's excellent article from Layers Magazine covers many approaches, and discusses some Camera Raw settings to reduce noise as well.

Sue Chastain's overview of the Reduce Noise filter.

Mike Rodriguez' video using Photoshop's built-in Reduce Noise filter

Mikkel Aaland's descriptions of noise reduction techniques.

Many other advanced techniques are also available; a web search should find many options.

Aren't there tools which do this automatically?

Yes. Most only provide minor improvements advances over doing the work manually, but most can drastically reduce the amount of time and effort required.

There's a list of the major noise reduction tools and plug-ins in lll's Photo Software List - Resources

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May 30 09 12:21 am  Link  Quote 
Posts: 3,305
Fullerton, California, US

How do I get great-looking skin on a model?

Start with a model with great skin, use a great makeup artist, and you’ll cut down your retouching tremendously while getting better results. smile

Once that's done...

Many retouching novices blur skin to achieve “clean” results. Unfortunately, to an educated eye, this is extremely obvious and unrealistic; blurring skin is virtually never a good idea for commercial or high-level work where realistic results are required.

In some portrait or glamour situations where the clients are less demanding and the time/cost tradeoffs are different, however, judicious blurring may be acceptable. In those cases use of the healing brush, clone tool, followed by a light application of a blur (Gaussian/median/anisotropic/etc) to the skin may be acceptable. Tools like the Skin Smoothing Plug-ins listed in lll'€™s 'lll's Photo Software List' may save a little time over doing the blurring manually.

A more time-consuming approach, but one which gives far more realistic looking results is described in Ronald Tan's Basic Pixel Level Dodging and Burning Tutorial MM thread. Another thread describing this technique is Christos’ Understanding Skin Retouching Regarding LIGHT thread.

An offsite guide from Glitterguru (Suzette Troche-Stapp) goes through this as well.

Also check out older threads on this topic. (Most of those discuss the less desirable blur-based techniques, however.)

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May 30 09 12:35 am  Link  Quote 
Posts: 3,305
Fullerton, California, US

What Should My Histogram Look Like?
What exactly am I supposed to be looking for when I check my histogram for proper exposure? What does a correct one look like?

The contents of a histogram simply reflect what was captured or is in the file. It's a graphical representation of how many pixels there are for each brightness level, scaled to fit the available space. The higher the peak, the more pixels of that brightness is there. Black is on the left, White is on the right, and everything else is in-between.  ("Middle Gray" will usually be around 110-130, depending on the gamma of the file; it is not automatically 127/128.)

What was captured or is in the file reflects what was in the scene combined with how it was exposed (and possibly colorspace).

A typical middle-key image will show that the majority of tones are in the midrange, with some darker and lighter areas.


A high-key image, even properly exposed, may well have a significant fraction of the image at 255 (See the image and histogram with the white background), while a histogram like that could easily mean overexposure for a 'normal' or low-key image.


The opposite applies for a low-key image, where a lot of image data could be legitimately at 0.


That said, most 'normal' images with a lot of pixels at 0 or 255, or a lot of pixels crowded near one edge of the histogram and nothing or very little near the other, are usually improperly exposed or scanned.

If you keep in mind that ANYTHING at 0 or 255 is without detail, that'll help. There aren't that many other 'rules' that are universal. That also means that anytime that one channel has something at 0 or 255, you have less detail, and if there are two channels that way, you've lost a lot of detail. When all three are at 0 or 255*, you have no detail. (* That includes such examples as (0,255,0)--pure green, no detail; it doesn't have to be (0,0,0) or (255,255,255).

As an example of non-universal ‘rules’, different applications—and different cameras—treat composite histograms in different ways. Some show luminosity, some showing peak values per channel, and some show the green channel as if it was the composite. Additionally, most cameras display histograms based on the in-camera JPEG settings, which may not reflect what is captured in a Raw capture..

For most images, it's not critical to know that Luminosity and per-channel views are different; the differences are usually fairly minor. For images with very saturated colors, however, the two can give very different results, and knowing which is being displayed can help avoid problems.

Recent version of Photoshop let you choose how and what to display.


On my website, I’ve got some sample histograms which can be used to help visualize the contents of an image based on the histogram. Those samples emphasize the unusual, however, as many common histograms will look fairly mountain-like: high in the center, and low at the ends.

Histogram Quiz

All that said, from a working perspective, a 'good' histogram will have information stretching from as dark as you want anything in the image to be (usually a pure black), to as light as you want to have in the image (usually a pure white). A histogram which doesn't cover the full range is generally describing  a 'flat' or low contrast image; unless that's intentional, stretching the data via Curves or Levels will usually help.

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May 30 09 12:36 am  Link  Quote 
Posts: 3,305
Fullerton, California, US

Why do my images look different on the web than they do in Photoshop or Lightroom?
They keep coming out flat, off-color, desaturated and/or dull.

Most browsers, and many imaging packages still don'€™t understand color management. Your images need to be converted to sRGB before uploading to the web. General-purpose image tools may also exhibit this kind of mismatch if sRGB isn't used.

See the Color on the Web section of the Color Calibration and Management Reference thread for details

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May 30 09 12:36 am  Link  Quote 
Posts: 3,305
Fullerton, California, US

What DPI should I use for my images on the web?

A web image at 1, 100, 1000, and 10,000 dpi are the same on the web unless some specialized scripts are run. Using the standard tools, there is no difference.

These files have different DPI, yet display the same:

http://www.kevinconnery.com/imaging/samples/dpi_test_1dpi.jpg http://www.kevinconnery.com/imaging/samples/dpi_test_72dpi.jpg
http://www.kevinconnery.com/imaging/samples/dpi_test_300dpi.jpg http://www.kevinconnery.com/imaging/samples/dpi_test_1000dpi.jpg

The first is "1 DPI" and the last is "1000 DPI". Notice how tremendously different they appear--or don't. Notice how different the "72 DPI" image is displayed than the "300 DPI" image.

If you download the image, then place it in an application which pays attention to DPI, and then print them in a printing package where DPI isn't ignored, they will print at quite different sizes, but they'll have the same amount of information. No current web browser pays any attention to DPI, however, either for on-screen display or printing from the screen.

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May 30 09 12:36 am  Link  Quote 
Posts: 3,305
Fullerton, California, US

Where can I find images to retouch?
Where can I ask for people to retouch my images?
Where can I post sample images for other people to work on?

If you're looking for help learning how to do postproduction, post in the main Digital Arts and Retouching forum.

If you're looking for images to retouch, check out the Digital Arts and Retouching'€™s Challenges, Contests, and Samples forum. Be sure to read that forum'€™s requirements, and the specific details on usage for the images there.

If you want to provide samples for other people to work on, post them out the Digital Arts and Retouching'€™s Challenges, Contests, and Samples€™ forum. Be sure to read that forum'€™s requirements, however.

If you're looking for someone else to do postproduction work for you, post a notice in Casting Calls.  You can also browse for Photoshop Wizards , or review the thread in the Market Forum where many people offer their postproduction services.

Google Image Search can be useful if you're only using the images for practice, and won't be displaying them.

There are many sites with free, or low-cost stock images available as well; Google'€™s search can help find those.

Anyone else have suggestions??

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May 30 09 05:06 pm  Link  Quote 
Posts: 3,305
Fullerton, California, US

Where can I learn more about Photoshop, Retouching, or similar?


Threads on Model Mayhem

(Don'€™t overlook the other FAQ entries, such as How to get great looking skin on a model, Dealing with Digital Noise, and What Should My Histogram Look Like? [and others].

Mas Phen'€™s Tutorial Thread: Photoshop

The List: Online tutorials and web help

Free Photoshop Tutorial and Tips Sites

Layers Magazine from Adobe
Covers the entire Creative Suite, they have a lot of good articles on getting more from Photoshop and Lightroom.

Russell is one of Adobe’s shining stars, and has many video tutorials and tip articles. Highly recommended.

Bert Monroy's video tutorials
Bert takes a different approach than most photographic users do, and is excellent at what he does.

Tutsplus.com's Photoshop tutorials
Somewhat variable,  but there are many excellent tutorials here. The review/rankings help somewhat in determining which to try.

RetouchPro.com's Tutorials
Aimed almost exclusively at retouching.

Worth1000.com'€™s Tutorials
More on compositing and manipulation than retouching, there are some very good guides here.

ChristySchuler.com'€™s retouching videos
There are only a handful of lessons, but they're quite good, and they all focus on dealing with faces.

Katrin Eismann'€™s PhotoshopDiva.com articles
Covering a range of topics, most are in PDF form, ready to download.

Subscription/Paid Tutorial and Tips Sites

National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP)

What would YOU add?

Send me a PM with your recommendations.

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May 30 09 05:06 pm  Link  Quote 
Posts: 3,305
Fullerton, California, US

What are the restrictions on Academic Photoshop's usage

Adobe's FAQ about student usage has more information, but includes the following, very frequently asked question:
Can a Student Edition also be used for commercial purposes?

In North America, Student Edition software can be used for commercial purposes. Outside North America, Student Edition software is for noncommercial purposes only.

(The UK FAQ, for example, says: "Student Edition products may not be used for commercial gain.")

Prior to CS4, there was no distinction between 'student' and 'educator'; the price for an instructor was the same as for a student, no commercial limits were imposed, and it had the same installation limits--two non-concurrently used computers (laptop/desktop, office/work, etc.) Now, the 'Student' edition is even cheaper while the 'Educator' isn't as heavily discounted--but there are more restrictions on the Student version as well.

What about upgrading?

Can I upgrade from a Student Edition?

Yes, a Student Edition can be upgraded to a commercial version.

See the Adobe FAQ link for more details, like whether it can be used after the student leaves school (yes); who is eligible to purchase; etc.

Note that only certain students and educators are eligible to purchase the software; not all students at all schools are eligible.

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Aug 10 09 04:21 pm  Link  Quote 
Posts: 3,305
Fullerton, California, US

Aug 10 09 04:21 pm  Link  Quote 
- Phil H -
Posts: 25,224
Bury Saint Edmunds, England, United Kingdom

Best Retouching Threads

This is member compiled list of what are considered some of the best threads for retouching advice, hints and tips.
Sep 30 13 05:39 pm  Link  Quote 
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