Easy and Natural Retouching ⭐️
First things first, I'm definitely not a retouching expert. Everything I've learned, I've picked up from Youtube, reading, and a lot of trial and error, so this might not be 'industry standard' stuff - but it works for me! This is my most basic routine in retouching, it's pretty quick and forgiving and a great starting point to develop from in the future. It takes me about twenty minutes at most, and is perfect for bringing a slightly 'flat' image to life.
These photos were taken using natural, overcast light coming in from a big window to the left of the model, using a Nikon D610 and a 70-200MM at f4.8. I can't remember what ISO I had it set to, but generally I expose for highlights which makes the RAW image pretty dark nine times out of ten! Since I'm focussing on retouching, I've colour corrected the images below in Lightroom (and a little more in Photoshop to finish off).
To start with, I duplicate the layer so I can flick between a 'before' and 'after' throughout the process. It's a good way of checking if things are still looking natural.
I always go in using the Spot Healing Brush to start with. This might seem a little too easy, but I've found it's brilliant at cleaning up the skin while still keeping the texture! As a general rule, I remove anything that isn't usually there; for example, moles, freckles and scars stay, but a spot, flyaway hairs, or a smudge of mascara can go. This way, you're keeping in everything that makes your model who they are, but removing anything that might distract.
Next, I start dodging and burning. This is my favourite way of getting distinctive features, soft highlights, and natural make-up to really pop. The areas I always dodge are the eyes, eyelids, tops of the cheekbones, the nose, cupid's bow (basically, anywhere you'd put highlight if you're into make-up!), and finally any jewellery. If there are distracting shadows then I'll lift those just a little bit.
I tend to use the burn tool less, although I always give it a generous brush over the eyelashes to make them appear 'sharper'. How heavy you go with the dodge and burn tools really depends on what look you're going for; I love a natural, dewy and bright appearance whilst still keeping the shadows looking a bit moody, but I tend to play around until it looks right.
Once everything is cleaned up, I finish off colour correction. If the skin is looking a little too pink, yellow or washed out, the Selective Colour tool can help rebalance. This is especially helpful if you've shot in an area that has cast a hue on your subject (like against green grass or a brightly coloured wall). I focus on the red and yellow sliders, and again, depending on what you're going for - or what the cast was - you'll want to play around with this.
Then, that's pretty much it! I hate overcomplicating my editing process and while this might not be the conventional way of doing things, it works so well for me. If you're after something quick, easy and flexible then I highly recommend giving it a go!