Digital Heavens Smooth Skins Actions for Photoshop

Photo Retouching is a large part of the digital photography portrait workflow. People have varying opinions on photo retouching and some will argue that you shouldn't retouch a photo at all. For those that feel that way you can probably stop here, move on to something else and have a nice day. The fact of the matter is that photo retouching happens everyday and I would dare you to pick up a cover of any magazine with a person on it and tell me that it came right out of the camera and went to press. As both a photographer and a Photoshop user I can tell you that portrait retouching is necessary. The reason that I feel that it's necessary is that when we see a photo of a person we see a image frozen in time and therefore our eyes have a chance to see and study every imperfection. However, when you see that same person in real life you would never sit there and stare at them for several minutes while they remained perfectly still. In a photo we see things that we would never pay attention to in real life. The goal of portrait retouching is to make the person look as good in the photo as they do in real life.

While I am a fan of portrait retouching, just like anything you can take things too far. I've learned over the years that less is more. I don't want to spend any more time retouching a portrait than I absolutely have to. I also don't want to do things to a portrait just for the sake of doing things.

My rule for removing things is that I remove things that either wouldn't be there in two weeks such as a pimple, or temporary bruise, etc. One of the last things I look at near the end of a portrait retouch is "Skin Smoothing." This is one of those topics that can easily get people up in arms and all of a sudden the pitch forks come out. This is also one of those areas in digital photography that can easily be and is often taken too far! 

 

Skin is already smooth

The first thing to remember is that skin is naturally smooth. What makes it look not smooth in a photo is typically the way the subject is lit. Depending on the lighting you will see areas of the skin show more detail in the shadows which causes the skin to look less smooth. A professional retoucher will tell you that the only way to correct for this properly is to go in pixel by pixel removing the areas that are causing the skin to not look smooth. If you think about it, let's say there was an area of skin with 20 pimples on it. If you removed all 20 pimples the skin would be smooth. Your job would be done. This is the "professional" way to do it and the way I would recommend when you have a paying client or you're working on the cover of a magazine. In other words if your work is going to be judged, then take the time and go in pixel by pixel. Unfortunately for most jobs this kind of time doesn't exist. Nor is it justified for every single photo. This is where the arguing usually starts :) I'm not telling you to do it one way or the other, I'm just pointing out the facts. In these cases there are other methods of "skin smoothing." These methods typically involve running filters on the skin and then reducing the effect to allow the original pores to show through. Professional retouchers (the ones that make their money doing this) will crucify you for this technique. At the same time, I would argue that it can be OK if done right. There are several methods for this and people will even argue which Photoshop filter does a better job. I have my own methods that I'm happy with, but I'm always looking at ways to make it better or faster.

 

Digital Heavens Automates Skin Smoothing For You

The guys over at Digital Heavens have come up with a set of Actions for Photoshop to automate the entire process of Skin Smoothing for you. This is great because they employ several different techniques within the set and let you try them before committing to one or the other. This presents kind of a non-destructive workflow because everything is done with layers and your original photo/background is never touched. If you don't like the look you can simply delete the layers it creates. You start off by doing exactly what I described above. Get all the flaws fixed/removed first. If you still feel the need for Skin Smoothing after you done you can then just run an Action. As always you can control the amount smoothing via Opacity. One of the advantages of Smooth Skins by Digital Heavens is that it's a series of Actions, not plug-ins. That means that it's using the native features of Photoshop and not dependent on having to keep a setup of plug-ins updated. You get 10 Actions in the set. This gives you a wide variety of different techniques to try out and to pick the one you like best for your image. They've also done a great job with providing samples and tutorials to show you how the Actions work.

Here's a sample tutorial video of just one of the Actions that ships with Smooth Skins:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ej06FtGuIU

 

 

A bit of final advice

No matter what technique you employ keep in mind the age of your subject. I find that you people (kids/teenagers) rarely need any skin smoothing at all! It makes my day when I DON'T have to do it. For example, the very first photo at the top of this post of Amanda has absolutely ZERO Skin Smoothing applied. I removed 3 pimples. That's it. She's young and already has beautiful skin. With older people you need to show some restraint too. Don't make the person look unbelievably too young. These actions are a great way to save time, try different techniques and have a way out if you don't like it all without having to create them yourself or do it manually each time. We've all seen "bad retouching" I'm guilty of a few bad retouches in my past as well. Another piece of advice is after you're done, close the image and reopen it hours later. Look at it and see if you still agree that it's "done" and not too much?

Before Smooth Skins from Digital Heavens I only had 2-3 different techniques. Now I have 10 New ones!

You can find out more about Digital Heavens Smooth Skins Actions here as well as additional video tutorials and examples.



Wacom Outs A New iPad Stylus and Sketching App

 

The great folks over a Wacom have shpped their NEW Bamboo Stylus for iPad (or any other touch screen mobile device). Ever since I started using the iPhone and then the iPad for doing model releases I realized that having a stylus was a must have accessory. While I've enjoyed my Pogo Sketch (the Targus one is OK too), I couldn't pass on the opportunity to try the one from the same company that makes my graphics tablet (Intuos 4). After all Wacom has had MANY YEARS of experience in designing tablets and pens to go with them. I figured that if anyone could design a good stylus for touch screen devices like the iPad it would be Wacom. Unfortunately the iPad doesn't offer pressure sensitivity like the Wacom tablets do. However, I have found the tip of this new stylus to be very comfortable to work with and smooth for on screen writing, signing and drawing. 

 

The Little Things

You might ask yourself "what is there to innovate in a stylus for an iPad?" That's a good question. After all, once you make a tip that works with touch screens what else is there? Surprisingly a lot. One thing I couldn't figure out with other styli is why there were designed to be so small? The first thing I noticed with the Bamboo Stylus was that it had a nice thickness to it as well as some weight to it that made it feel more natural in my big hands. Speaking of weight the other nice thing is that the slight weight differential of it is pushed to the tip end. This means that when I pick it up I can tell which end is the writing end without even looking at it. While I do wish that it was about a half inch longer, I found the length to be reasonable. Now on to the tip. This is probably the most important feature as it will either make it or break it for me when it comes to using a stylus. I prefer a tip that glides more easily on the touch screen. Some of the cheaper ones have more of a "rubber" feel, which is fine for "tapping" onscreen buttons, but horrible for writing/sketching. I'm happy to report that the Bamboo Stylus has a nice blend of easy gliding, but just enough grip for precise tapping. This is also due to the design of the tip and how it comes to a nicely rounded point. Again, there was some thought put into this and I would expect nothing less from Wacom. 

 

If you're in need of a stylus for your mobile touch screen device, it doesn't get much better than this. You can get the Wacom Bamboo Stylus for iPad here for $29.95 or less.

 

One more thing…

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgByFtjYotQ

There's an App too. Wacom introduced a NEW iPad App called Bamboo Paper (see my review here). This App is a virtual notebook for your iPad. If you hurry you can grab a copy of the App for FREE until the end of June here from the iTunes



Gracias Mexico City!

   

What a way to end the 3rd leg of our Adobe CS5 Evolution Tour! Mexico City was the last stop of this leg and definitely one of the most fun in terms of a very cool venue and great audience. We have typically held these events in convention centers or large movie theaters. However, in Mexico City we walked into a two story night club.

I had this strong urge to whip out two turntables. I'm not sure why.

The music was thumping and it was "Club Adobe" all the way. Granted there was no dancing (dang it!), but there was a lively party atmosphere as we showcased design, web, mobile authoring and video/audio workflows to the 500 attendees on hand.

It was great to see so many fans too.

 

 

 

Gilberto runs the Adobe Mexico Users Group.

 

Time for a much needed Sumer Vacation! Stay tuned for more tour dates and events.



Guest Review: Arkon Window/Console Mount for iPhone 4

 

 

by Jason Lykins

About 6 months ago I switched from using the built in GPS on my Truck to using my iPhone and the Navigon App exclusively for all of my GPS needs. Since then I’ve been laying my phone on my lap, on my center console or on my dash and picking it up or just listening to the voice guidance. Terry has his favorite mount for some time. Made by Magellan, but was more than I was willing to pay.  I just wasn’t ready to shell out close to $100 for a mount for my cell phone. As of this writing I’m in a hotel room in Milwaukee where I’m visiting from Cincinnati for my brother’s wedding. I didn’t want to have to look down or worry about my phone sliding all over the place during this trip so I hopped online and purchased the Arkon IPM514 mount for the iPhone4. (Actually I bought 2 of them, one for me and one for my girlfriend. Brownie points!) I got it in the mail just in time, and for under $15 shipped I couldn’t be happier!
 

Mounting

This mount is just what I was looking for. I didn’t want to mount it to my window; rather I wanted a way to secure it to my dashboard to put it right at eye level for me. I searched the vent mount options, but in the end I chose this model for its dash-mounting feature. The base of the 514 has a suction cup on it to allow for securing to the window if you want, but it also comes with a circular two-sided tape mount to place it on your dashboard/console. On my truck it worked great, as I had a flat spot right at the top of the dash to secure it. In my girlfriend’s car the mounting was a little trickier because she didn’t have as many flat areas, but we made it work. The mount itself pivots at the base where it connects to the suction cup, as well as a “ball head” style pivot where the base meets the phone holding plate. This allows for many mounting positions giving you many different options when it comes to deciding on where to place your unit.

The plate that holds the phone is spring loaded to allow for use with many different styles of smart phones, although with my iPhone in there it feels like it’s almost at the end of its range so I don’t know if a longer phone would work in there. The prongs that physically hold the phone in place are adjustable so having a charging cord connected isn’t a problem.
 

Conclusion

The Arkon IPM514 is a great solution for anyone that wants to mount their cell iPhone to their dashboard or window for GPS use but doesn’t want to empty their wallet to do it.

You can get the Arkon IPM514 for only $11.19 here from Amazon.



Thanks Sao Paulo Brazil!

Wow! Thanks Brazil for a fantastic day. You guys rock and were definitely one of the most energetic crowds we've presented to to date. We're all pumped and can't wait to come back.

 

It was great to start the day with young 13 year old Breno on stage to kick things off with a Content Aware Fill demo.

 

Thanks again Brazil!

We look forward to seeing you all in Mexico City Tomorrow. Be sure to search/follow the #CS5Evolves hash tag on Twitter.



Polleverywhere.com Powers My LIVE Audience Polls

  

If you've attended any of our tour stops on the Adobe CS5 Evolution Tour or if you were at the Adobe Photoshop World Keynote in Orlando, then you may have seen us do a live poll of the audience. Rather than simply asking for a show of hands, audience members participated with their mobile devices. Polleverywhere.com is a web based service that allows you to setup and conduct Live Polls in real-time. The cool factor is that the poll results come in and can be displayed in real-time. This usually gets people a little more involved when they see that they can actually drive the results right in front of their eyes.

Another option is the ability to create a custom URL where your users will go on their devices and instead of keying in the onscreen codes, they'll actually see the poll questions on their own screens and the responses are then tappable. When you switch to the next question their browser will update on the fly.

 

How does it work?

Once you setup an account, you can then start to create your Polls ahead of time. During your event, class, seminar, etc. you can then bring up the site, go full screen and people can answer the questions by either using SMS texting (standard text messaging rates do apply) to a local/regional number for the area that you are conducting the poll in OR they can simply go to the mobile friendly poll4.com web page on their device and enter the codes there for free. You can even enable the Poll via Twitter so that people can Tweet their responses and lastly there is the option to have a Private Link like this one. The page uses Adobe Flash to update live and in real-time. As the votes come in the bars will move for all to see. The data is saved to your account and you can close the polls whenever you like to prevent further voting.

If you don't want to do it live there are several options for embedding the polls into your website, like I've done here (click on your answer):

 

The results can also optionally be embedded for all to see as either LIVE update via Flash:

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Use a New Feature in Adobe Bridge CS5 to Batch Rename Part of the Filenames of Your Images

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2vrZv93zZg

 

In this episode of the Adobe Creative Suite Video Podcast I'll show you how to take advantage of a NEW feature in Adobe Bridge CS5 that allows you to do a Batch Rename on a folder of images, but only changing part of the names to what you want while leaving the rest of the name intact. String Substitution baby!

See more of my Adobe Creative Suite Videos on my Adobe Creative Suite Podcast and get the App here. It features EXCLUSIVE CONTENT that no one else gets to see. This episode has a BONUS CLIP that is available only in the App:

Learn Adobe Creative Suite with Terry White - Wizzard Media

 



Charge your iPad and Phone at the Same Time

I'm always on the look out for ways to reduce the number of chargers I travel with and while I have found some great 4 Port USB Chargers in the past the one thing they all seem to lack is the 5V 2 AMP (10W) power requirement for the iPad. Granted the iPad will still charge on the lesser current, but it will take longer. Recently I found a dual USB charger that has one port that operates at the higher voltage. The other USB port is a standard 5V 1 Amp port for your other USB devices such as your cellphone. This is GREAT! This means that I can charge my iPad 2 at full speed and still have a port to charge my phone. The other requirement I have is that any charger I buy has to also work on the higher powered International plugs and this one does (with an appropriate wall plug adapter).

I have replaced my standard iPad white chargers with these for on the road. Yes it comes with a sync cable too. The only annoyance is the bright blue LED that lets you know it's plugged in. You know how I feel about LEDs :)

You can get the Dual Port USB Charger here for about $12 or here on eBay for about $12.

A standard Apple iPad charger retails for $29 (granted it does come with a long cord too).

 

Here's one for the Car too:

Order it here.



Thank You Warsaw, Amsterdam, Moscow, Istanbul, Sydney & Melbourne!

The second leg of our Adobe CS 5 Evolution Tour has ended and I'm getting geared up for South America next week. I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has participated in the tour those far. We've had a blast presenting to over 9,000 fans/customers thus far in the various regions around the world. In some cities the events were webcasted to thousands more who couldn't be there in person. The tour has been a great success thus far and I'm really looking forward to continuing it next week. Here are some highlights:

 

Six stops in 18 days!

 

This leg of the tour started off in Warsaw Poland with an amazing sold out crowd! People were literally lining the walls and sitting on the floor off to the side of the stage.

 

 

Photoshop/Camera RAW never looked so BIG!

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Nikon ME-1 Mic for DSLR Video

 

I love my Nikon D7000 DSLR camera. I hate the built-in mic. While the camera takes both great stills and high def 1080p video, the built-in microphone…well um…yeah…sucks! It's barely adequate for an interview and the 11Hz mono audio is pretty much useless for anything else. While I've been happy with my Rode VideoMic and VideoMic Pro, I was intrigued by Nikon's announcement of the NEW ME-1 Mic because of its small size. The ME-1 is about half the size of my VideoMic Pro and that makes it much better for travel. Keep in mind that my D7000 is my travel DSLR. I use it more on the road than I do at home. That means that if I'm I recording a video I'm most likely recording it on the road too. On my last international tour I had no room for the VideoMic and of course as luck would have it I had to do an impromptu video recording in Australia. The video looked great, the audio was…"meh." The whole time I was kicking myself for not bringing the VideoMic Pro. The ME-1 had shipped, but hadn't arrived before I left home to go my trip. 

Note: When you plug in an mic to the Nikon D7000 you get Stereo/Mono audio at 48kHz/16bit. 

 

ME-1 Pros and Cons

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