How Do You Retouch Portraits?

For photographers who photograph people, retouching faces can be a big part of their workflow. However, the amount or style of retouching and the tools and techniques used vary. Like any creative adjustment, the amount or style of retouching changes from artist to artist and can even change over time based on the trending look. Haven’t you noticed the style of retouching has shifted to be a more natural, subtle adjustment over the past five years or so? Just a few years ago everyone had porcelain smooth skin and snow-white teeth. This also reminds me of the parallels with HDR. A few years ago HDR was over-the-top with crazy contrast and color. Today it’s a more refined style.

In ON1 Photo RAW, we are taking a look at how we manage portrait retouching. We want to make sure we have the right tools, in the right places so portrait photographers can quickly and easily do their retouching. In ON1 Photo 10 we have a dedicated portrait retouching module. It detects faces automatically and guides you through creating selections for eyes and mouth. Then you simply adjust sliders for the amount of retouching and enhancement you want for each area. Often times, it’s either too slow or too restrictive when setting up a face. Everyone loves the results Portrait delivers, but they don’t want to go through the process. This is especially true when you have a ton retouching to do.

The other option for portrait retouching in Photo 10, is the Portrait Enhancer filter in Effects. It simply creates a color range selection based on skin color and then allows you to reduce blemishes and smooth out the skin. This is very close to our popular Auto Skin Smoother effect we created back in the days of PhotoTools. That handles the skin, then you use the Adjustment Brush to paint in enhancements on the eyes and mouth.

So… Now I want to know what you want. Which approach do you like, guided or manual? If you take portraits and do face retouching (or any skin retouching) let us know how you do it. What’s your style? What tools & techniques work best for you? What would you want in ON1 Photo RAW for this?  Leave me a comment below.

– Dan Harlacher