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Best Retouching Software in your experience

Lindsay Adler , Aug 26, 2009; 10:30 p.m.

I am a professional photographer and I do lots of senior portraits... and you know how pimply high school seniors are! I seem to spend sooooo much time retouching. In your experience what is the best software for this. I want realistic effects.
I am sure this thread must have been discussed before... so feel free to simply redirect me.
What software do you use? Does it offer a trial use? I need HELP! Thanks

Lindsay Adler


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Barry Fisher , Aug 27, 2009; 03:17 a.m.

Well Photoshop if you have to do a lot of retouching on skin etc. I think it's the standard just for openers.

Bill from New York City , Aug 27, 2009; 09:20 a.m.

I used Portraiture plugin, but that is only after I have retouched the skin with healing brush, clone brush and/or painting the skin. Then I use Portraiture mildly to smooth out my retouches. http://www.imagenomic.com/pt.aspx

Jen Lambert , Aug 27, 2009; 09:41 a.m.

In addition to high end retouching, I also do what I call "production" retouching. For an 8x10 or smaller, your retouching for a senior should only take about 5 minutes per image- from opeing the raw file to saving it ready to print. A simple combination of the healing brush, light cloning, and a soft-light dodge layer should really be all you need for small prints. Larger prints take me more time, but it is only an extended version (more detail) of a regular "production" retouch. Some kids will take more time if their skin is really bad, but your everage senior shouldn't take too long.

If your retouching is taking your time due to volume, I would consider outsourcing or hiring a retoucher, if only seasonal.

Photoshop is the only program I use for this sort of thing. You can download the trial version, but I don't see anyone grasping the full benefits of it if they are unfamiliar with it to begin with. Quick retouching that looks real takes time to learn, but it shouldn't ake long to produce.

Tom Watt , Aug 27, 2009; 09:19 p.m.

Lindsay, Photoshop has the broadest range of retouching tools/avenues available. In my experience, you can do as little or as much as you want/need. The biggest downside is a fairly stiff learning curve. By range, I mean the ability to blur, clone, desaturate (red spots especially), etc.
There are a lot of plug-ins for Photoshop, a lot of learning support, and integrated tools available such as WACOM drawing tablets.
Wolf, I'm not sure how your comment relates to the question, but I don't see it as being very helpful. Unless you have a more workable business model you'd care to share with us.

Tom Watt , Aug 27, 2009; 10:44 p.m.

Lindsay, Photoshop is available as a free trial. I forgot to mention that. It's downloadable from the Adobe.com website.
Wolf, the OP is a business person, and your suggestion (or lack thereof) basically asks her to junk her business model. While I can appreciate your passion, I will have to argue that I know a little about retouching and realism... by original training I was a painter and illustrator. In order for her to maintain her business, her clientele essentially demands some level of retouching that doesn't end up looking like clown makeup. Your photos are certainly nice. But then, silver sword doesn't usually have pimples. Nice work!

Mark H , Aug 27, 2009; 11:03 p.m.

Others have given solid advice. I just throw in that I've found Photoshop very effective in removing mild skin blemishes for homecoming photos and the like. I use the spot healing brush tool and for things like a pimple, it's very effective and natural looking. You can fix most such blemishes easily and quickly with a few clicks.

Now, if you're talking about a teen who has a real serious acne condition, you're going to need more time and probably a few additional tricks to bear, but Photoshop can do all those also. I don't generally try to remove everything if someone has a real skin condition, I just try to bring it under control.

Like I said though, you've got some great advice above. There are probably other programs that would work, but I think Photoshop is the tool you want.

Good luck.

Brad - , Aug 28, 2009; 10:44 a.m.

Use photoshop, it's the gold standard for retouching...

jacopo brembati , Aug 28, 2009; 12:47 p.m.

PhotoResampling. Cheap user-friendly and powerfull. You can download a demo version.

Ralph Jensen , Aug 28, 2009; 03:09 p.m.

There are multiple interesting products and explanations of Photoshop techniques if you Google > skin smoothing software <.

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