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Open Assignment: Beauty and Glamour Portrait Retouching

This post is part of a series called People and Portrait Retouching.
Using Frequency Separation to Retouch Skin
This post is part of a series called Open Assignments.
Introducing Open Assignments for Photo & Video

If you are an portrait photographer or retoucher it can be hard to find material to practice your post-production skills with. This is especially true learning a more specialized, stylized form of retouching like beauty and glamour. In this Open Assignment you'll work though six photos to help build your retouching skills.

The Tuts+ course Beauty and Glamour Portrait Retouching, with Chamira Young, is all about how to use strategic beauty retouching techniques. If you want to take your retouching skills to the next level, the course will help you gain greater confidence in your own retouching and a deeper understanding of how to plan an efficient and professional retouching workflow. If you've already taken the course these photos will help you practice the skills you've learned.

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It

For the purpose of this assignment let's pretend that you are a photo retoucher working for a fashion magazine. Your editor has given you six photographs to work on. Three are for a story, and go together, and three are singles. Your job is to retouch all six photos to a final state that is ready for publication.

If you are just getting started with retouching don't worry too much about time. Set yourself a deadline that you think is reasonable for six images, but focus more on developing a process that feels good to you.

If you're a more advanced retoucher set yourself a deadline that will force you to make some quick decisions. Give yourself enough time to get the job done right but still provide a time challenge.

Ready? Download the files and let's get started.

Photo Story Images

These photos are from three different locations, with three different models, but the photographer is the same: Kathryn Connell. The challenge here is find balance and concordance. We want to preserve the photographer's vision and style while making the photos look great together as a set. 

Teenage boy in white shirt in forest
Photograph by Kathryn Connell, copyright CC BY-SA 2.0.
Young woman posing in front of a rustic brick wall
Photograph by Kathryn Connell, copyright CC BY-SA 2.0.
Young man standing in the doorway of a barn
Photograph by Kathryn Connell, copyright CC BY-SA 2.0.

Single Images

These portraits were made using a different style for each. The challenge this time is to bring out the best in each image.

Woman posing on the street
Photograph by fervent-adepte-de-la-mode, copyright CC By 2.0.
Man standing in front of a shiney brick wall
Photograph by Grant Wilson, copyright CC BY 2.0.
Givana young woman in front of a purple wall
Givana, photograph by Alexandra Aristova, copyright CC BY-SA 2.0.

Tips on How to Complete This Assignment

Some of these photos need more work than others. Part of the skill of retouching is knowing when to use restraint. If you're just starting, err on the conservative side: corrections to exposure, contrast, and colour (skin colour especially) are usually the majority of the work.

Work methodically, and work the pictures through your process together. Don't jump ahead on one image and then try to make the rest fit: this is a recipe for headache. Instead, move each picture to the same stage incrementally so that everything in the group is more or less retouched to the same level. This will let you keep your work organized and it will keep the pictures looking good together.

And have fun! Share your results in the comments below.

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