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The Basics of Retouching People, Part 1

June 07, 2006 by
The secret to losing 5 pounds--digitally!
The secret to losing 5 pounds--digitally!

Summer is the time to get out and have fun. Enjoy the beautiful weather, maybe visit a family reunion or two (or not!), and take a wonderful vacation to an exotic locale (perhaps the next city over) with a friend or your significant other. Whatever gets you out and about taking people photos, it's important know what to do with those pictures once you have them.

Case in point: I visited one of my very best girlfriends Leslie recently in Clearwater, FL. We frolicked in the sun, stayed up late chatting, trotted all over town in a convertible, and well, polished off a pitcher or two of Sangrias. All this made for lots of fun, but not the most flattering photos, if you get my drift.

In this new series on retouching people in Elements, I'll show you some of my favorite techniques that you can use in your very own people photos. NOTE: Most techniques work identically in the full-blown version of Photoshop. Read on!

The two-second digital diet

At this point you might be saying, "Why Lesa, shouldn't we start with some basic color correction first?" And I'd say, "Why yes, you are correct!" Hop on over to Livin' La Vida Levels for that, then come right back here.

Step 1: Pop open the offending photo and double click the Background layer to make it editable.

Step 2: Because Elements assumes you'll want to resize the photo, the Free Transform handles are already visible (in Photoshop just press Command + T (PC: Ctrl + T) to summon Free Transform). Grab the right or left handle and, while watching the Options bar at the top of the screen, drag inward exactly 5%. Resist the urge to alter the photo beyond 95%. Press Return to accept the transform.

Step 3: Press C to select the Crop tool.

Go ahead and draw a box around the photo area to nip that extra 1/4 inch or so off the side. Press Return to accept the Crop.

TIP: If you ever find yourself needing to escape a Cropping Situation, it's really easy--just press the Esc key :)

Wasn't that easy? It's a simple retouch that's impossible to spot, if you don't go over 5% that is.

See what I mean? It doesn't *look* like a retouch, but it works wonders! Since this is a really short tip, let's motor onto the next one "Banishing Blemishes & Bags."