I was fortunate enough to get an advance reviewer copy of the Beauty Retouching Techniques in Photoshop DVD by master retouching artist Gry Garness. I first discovered her advanced Photoshop tutorials on the forums of model mayhem where her eBooks were getting stellar reviews.
Honestly, I don’t think I’ve watched a video tutorial since the memorable You Suck at Photoshop series. Gry’s DVD set is slightly different than that one. Presentation of the retouching concepts is excellent. Her (British) voiceover is extremely polished and she does a great job of explaining advanced technical material with correct Photoshop (PS) terminology you can understand. The accompanying video is excellent, with keystroke tips that pop up from time-to-time. The DVD is designed for viewing on computers rather than home DVD players. If you don’t already use a tablet for retouching, the tutorials will make you want one.
This is not a crank it out and upload to facebook for your internet fans style of work. But is rather a high-end approach to pixel-level editing beauty and fashion photos for magazine editorials or advertisements. Retouching high-resolution, multi-layer files at 100% is not for the faint of heart. It is a slow process that can take hours to retouch a single photo. Gry approaches image retouching systematically and non-destructively. Her system uses many, many layers which can be reworked at any point of the workflow. My style of retouching is slightly simpler-I tend to merge layers as they are corrected. For example, I will edit blemishes or pores directly onto my background layer with a healing brush tool or clean up [sensor] dust spots with the spot healing brush tool rather than using a separate layer for the retouching. The (multi-layer) system Gry teaches really is the proper way to retouch, although I feel keeping too many layers in an image document can get bulky or even confusing to me at times. Fortunately, the style and complexity you decide to use in your digital workflow is ultimately your own.
In addition to the retouching and color tutorials, Gry illustrates how to prep. your files for CMYK conversion so that your colors print within the gamut of the four color process. It’s important for photographers and retouchers to understand [at least] the fundamentals of the printing process so that there are no surprises when the printed piece comes back from the service bureau.
In many cases, Gry demonstrates several variations of achieving the desired effect. Although informative, you might not have to watch each and every tutorial. If you are confident in the way you dodge and burn, for example-it’s easy enough to skip over segments of the tutorials. There is so much great information on these DVDs I recommend watching as much as possible and using it as a reference when you need to go back and brush up on techniques for practical use.
The retouched images that are used in the tutorials are exemplary models of work. I think the color and sharpness is spot on and the photographs are polished, but not to the point of looking unnatural. Keeping in mind there are 13 hours of material to watch on the DVD set, I feel that as a photographer or retoucher you should really identify with the style of Gry’s work before deciding to order the videos. Disclaimer: I received my copies of Beauty Retouching Techniques in Photoshop DVD free of charge in exchange for a review on this site.