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Quality Control

Lesson 43 from: The Business of Professional Photo Retouching

Lisa Carney, Simon Peter Raible

Quality Control

Lesson 43 from: The Business of Professional Photo Retouching

Lisa Carney, Simon Peter Raible

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Lesson Info

43. Quality Control


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Who Should Be a Retoucher?


Genres of Retouching


Comp vs Finish


Lisa's Path to Retouching


Simon's Path to Retouching


Establishing a Look


Who is The Client?


Lesson Info

Quality Control

As we talked about it before, the Solar Curve, we talked for finding out spotting and things to check out. This is what we meant by cut lines and bad masking. It'll show up beautifully. And now sometimes you'll get a line and it turns out it wasn't a problem, but at least you got to look and say, hey what's this? And do not put your Solar Curve on when you have noise. If you put the grain layer on, it's going to be all grainy and you're not going to be able to see anything. So please check with your Solar Curve off. Oh, look at that. See? Do you see how hard that line there is to see? I guarantee you on and RGB monitor, that would be really hard to see. But with the Solar Curve, you can at least see part of it. And I don't know if you do this often, I will often adjust my Solar Curve. So, what I mean by that is, I will have a regular Solar Curve like this and I will look at my file, and then I will move some of these points and just look at it again. Laura Bloom really scarred me. She ...

really taught me to check these. I mean, can you imagine? Every single set. Anyway, so feel free to change this as well to check your file. I'll tell you another thing that gets by ya, too. Even when you think you're being all sharp, if you take an image and you mask the whole thing out, and then you silhouette and bring in the person in it. And you're very sure there's nothing but that person you silhouetted, your alpha channel is pristine, 'cause there's no way it could be anything but perfect 'cause you did everything by the book. And you bring this image into your Photoshop document and then you size it down or size it up, the mask is gonna be off by half a pixel. We should talk about this. Now you know! Now I know exactly what you're talking about. Yep. Oh my goodness. So when you, you know pixels, alpha masks are gray scale layers really and they have gray in them. It's black and white and gray. And when you res up or down, your mask will interpellate pixels. And you can get a halo fringe. And it's so minor, but when that's on the sunset wall, that is not minor. Yep. It's huge. And that's a really good point. Another thing Solar Curves will get your for. Yeah, be very careful. Alien Skin can blow up, you wanna chat about this for a minute? I mean it's just talking about the interface, really. The interface? It's pretty straight forward. I grabbed a hold of this and I was already kind of stressed about that sailboat job. And I went and got it for a couple of bucks and it didn't take any time to learn. So it's as simple as image sizing up. They did a good job on making it friendly. Yeah it's kinda, I'd say it's idiot-proof a bit. However, what I really wanna talk about is there's some information here and you want to save that information. If you're not doing blow up on a smart object and leaving it as live code, please write down what you have. Either take a screen capture of it and stick it in the file, or write it on the layer. And why that is, is all of you want to be able to take a vacation. You want someone else to pick up your job or, heck fire, it might be you. And you're coming back and let's say you did this job and you did an amazing job. And they say, we have 5,000 of these images. We would like you continue on with your process. And you open it up and you're like, I have no idea what I did. You know it happens. This happens to me all the time. I get really cocky and I kind of do my job and I don't write my codes down, what my settings are. And then the job expands and gets bigger and then I can't reproduce it easily. So, please write down your code. Shall we talk about, kind of review what we haven't, anything we haven't talked about? Yeah, these are, Lisa and I sat around and I was like, what are all the times things went wrong? And we just started writing down in this. So here's 50 years of what? 10, 20 different pieces of artwork a week going out. And here's all our problem children. It was like, if we knew all this, we could have gone through checked it, checked it off, and not gotten in trouble. Not lost a client, not cost money, and not looked foolish. Spell check names. What a great idea. How many times has that happened? And we're not just talking about in the file, like as you're looking at the picture and there's a name, I'm gonna give you a story about that in a second. We're actually talking about your layers. They're okay, so if you imagine in a print shop when you've got the, in the old days, when you used to scan film? And you got folks around the night crew and they might be of a certain ilk of character, a little more wild, and they decide they're gonna name these actors with very funny acronyms or names that maybe wouldn't be appropriate for your mother to read. And you put those files in your job and you deliver to Sony Pictures a fully layered file with something called I can't say it because Sarah will kill me, some name that you wouldn't want your mother to read. Yeah, that's happened and people have gotten fired in our industry because it went to the client. I know this sounds like a no duh, but if it didn't happen we wouldn't tell you. This stuff happens. At Paramount, I was so stoked because they, I grew up watching Cheers. The old television show, the Boston bar. And I got to go on set and take pictures. I was stoked. I couldn't believe I had arrived. And did this video box cover and I had to make an ad for it, a one page ad. And it was like, get the video cassette now. Printed it up, sent out for film, came in on Monday morning and somewhere in video cassette I had put too many s's, one less t, and thrown a bunch of e's in there just to be safe. Video cassette went out, printed, and I came in and I was like, that doesn't look right. Can we change that? And they were like, you should have thought of that way long ago. Yeah, because it's money. That's when I learned. Yeah, in 1992. Check everything for letters. Those letters mean a lot. I'm known for not being able to, I can devil type. I can make it look good, but I'm not allowed to touch type anymore because I did a job and it was called, the enemy within. It was a TV show for ABC. It was 100 years ago. And I wrote Emeny apparently instead of Enemy. And no one caught it, everyone looked at, I made people look at the files because I know I'm an idiot. And the client calls up me directly and I was like, take out the file. I was kind of low on the totem pole at that point. Mark Schueler called up and he's like, Emeny? Emeny? And he's yelling on the phone, Emeny. And I'm like what is he talking about? And why is he calling, and then all of a sudden the heat came up and I just knew. And I was like, oh my lord. I've really made a huge mistake. So this happens and it's bad. And you get, I'm branded. I'm actually branded in our industry as someone who cannot do type. I'm not allowed to spell video because of that. No, but alright. Check measurements. What's your favorite phrase? Check, measure twice, cut once? Measure twice, cut once. Yeah. Like the old wood and saw guys, actual carpentry. So and that, we mean document. You'd be amazed how many times we've actually worked on a one sheet and realized we actually typed in the wrong number when we started the job. So check, I know it happens. We hit a decimal point, just something goofy going. Goofy. Or, like we were talking about. You're gonna res up at the end? Man, I've forgotten to do that a couple of times. So you think you're being all slick, you're saving money, you're working in a popper thing, and you forget to check at the end. You forget to res it up to where, and you've known it the whole time. You just, we're almost done, they're calling when we gonna get it? The car is running, we've got dinner reservations in 15 minutes and you forgot to check the measurement. That's one thing. There it is, I'm telling ya. And here's the other thing, when you res it up, if you don't check the right boxes, the inch dimension will change. And then you've done a 27x40, but now it's a 60x30 at a different DPI. So sometimes checking it is just realigning the,-- You forgot to link the aspect ratio and you check the width. You made the width the correct one, but yeah. Little goofy things. Okay, remove the alpha channels. So this one, I scoff at retouchers all the time when I get these files. So we'll be doing files and we'll get filed from other retouchers who work, and many people use channels. I am a channel freak. I love them. I use them for everything. But you'll get a file with a channel pull from a show two years ago that's stuck in the file. How does that happen? It's because they're using the same template to build their comps every single time. And there's channels left in there from shows from two years ago. And it's embarrassing. It's bad house keeping. Makes your file bigger, too. It used to be a lot bigger, so we always took off the alpha channels. But then they got a lot better at it. And then it's just black and white, so it only adds little bit. But we have a luminosity mask that's fantastic. You run an action and it looks at the whole piece. It gives you seven different channels. The brightest brights, kinda brights, middle, It's awesome, yeah. shadows, darkest shadows. But you get a one click and you get (trills tongue) all these channels, these alpha channels. That will add a number, maybe it's 10% of the file. But, you do that-- On a 44 gig file, just think about that for a second. Yeah, or if you run it and you're doing a wedding shot, you've got 10 of 'em. So now you just increased that entire job by 10% to upload a drop box and put on the FTP. And, I used to think it made me look good because look how slick I am. These are how elevated my skills are. Look at this style, I'm in here and it doesn't do that. All it does it just, those days are over. And it doesn't look professional. So, just throw away your channels. But leave your crops. I'll leave crops in the alpha channels. The crop for the file, even though there's a bleed frame on the top, I put one in the channels. Do you remember we'd save out all those versions? So you've got those, or the print? Save it in your alpha channels. That's a courtesy. So one of 'em is bad housekeeping, one of 'em is a courtesy. Cool? Paths? Oh yeah. Do people tell you to dump your paths? Dump your paths. The paths you have in the Photoshop file. It used to be a quirk? Can I say quirk? You just did. A quirk, in the quirk days. Your path would automatically clip the image. Right? I'm so old school. So I'm a path deleter because of that. Because it used to come into quirk and it'd cause problems, but again it's a housekeeping thing. Just, it's not a file size thing. Just get rid of it. It's everything clean and nice. This is not on your whips. Can I re-stress that this is all for delivery. This is the end of the job. So this is not what you keep for yourself. I will leave a path in with one client. He doesn't want a, he doesn't want rulers. He doesn't want crop marks. But he does want one path in where the crop goes. And I'll give him one path. It's just a square, it says crop, and it'll have the dimensions. Also, write out the dimensions. So, 27x40 inch crop. And that way he just knows that he just goes to the layers pallet, touches on that, crops the whole piece of artwork, and he gets to printing. So, it's a very, very good idea, most of the time unless someone requests that. Yeah, that a good idea for the path. I'll sit that into him. Okay, remove non-visible layers. We've talked about this, that's pretty basic. Ooh, my please link your layer masks. Please, please, please. I am begging on-- Would you like it if people linked their layer masks? I would be so happy. It would make my year if people would link their layer masks. I cannot tell you how many times I have been making changes on a file, especially if you're picking up from someone else, and you transform it, and something goes wrong, and you have to go through folder after folder after folder to find out which item the layer mask was not linked to the layer. So what'll happen, you'll grab a whole folder with all this artwork in it and drag it over and then size it up and all of a sudden you're like, that's goofy. Why is there only a mask on that guy's ankle? When happened was, they masked out the guy's head bust, but the unlinked the mask to it. So the mask is just floating around, doesn't know where to go. You size the guy up, the mask stays there, and now it's just masked out somewhere down by his ankle. If you're bringing over a folder that has 50, 60 layers in it. You gotta go through each one and find out what mask got unlinked. Find that, go back to your original, link it, now do that whole step again. Drag it in, size it up, rotate it, everything's... Especially for breakdowns. This is, you get called names for that. So, yeah don't be the person that... Yeah. If you start sending out files that may or may not have the masks linked, you'll get a reputation. Yeah, it's a donkey move. And it's just, it's tidying up. It's running the vacuum and dusting before company comes over. We also, we have asked Photoshop Adobe if they could figure out a code to link all masks. So hopefully maybe in the next upgrade, you never know. That you just hit it. Wouldn't that be awesome? They were very nice, and maybe they'll do it. Name layers professionally. Yeah. Yeah, that's me and I'll tell ya, I've gotten a lot better at it. And like right now, I've gotten into the, I've gotten used to always naming my layers by shot number. A while ago what I would do is when I brought, and especially when it got to be a lot of people and I don't know these actors or actresses by name, and I gave myself a little forgiveness on it. Because whenever I looked at it and whatever came into my head, and I've got a goofy sense of humor. I would just name that scan or that folder big yellow shirt. And big yellow shirt goes in. And then they're all, but I know if I looked in them and I'm like yeah I want that girl and it's the big yellow shirt. That's fine if you're working. If you've got 14 different folks, instead of just saying however you identify them, if big yellow shirt works for you, big yellow shirt it is until it comes time to deliver. Then you gotta tidy things up. For your Is, cross your Ts. Yep. Run the vacuum, dust off. Yeah. And also, I'm gonna say that also goes with adjustment layers. You and I had a thing about this and I think we can air it publicly here. So, he used to put his adjustment layers with code words to me. Like K for black. And you had a couple of other ones. I'm not remembering right off the, and I was like, well I don't know what K means. And I know CMYK, but how am I supposed to know to darken? Just write black layer. And it's because if you have to share your files, don't put initials, don't put acronyms if no one else speaks your language. It's not professional. So, um-- Now with my actions, my noise layer I used to just name it a gray layer. She was like, what are you calling it a gray layer? I don't know what a gray layer is. It could be any kind of a gray layer. I was like, okay. She was like, well name is some kind of noise. It was like, coming up hun. So now my actions are, I click the thing, the thing makes you a new layer, it makes it 50% gray, it turns it into an overlay. It pulls down the blur, or the noise to gaussian blur, gaussian noise fully saturated, and it takes the saturation down to 50%. What you requested. Thank you. The whole name of that layer says, five pixel gaussian noise at half hue saturation, Hi Lisa. And that's every noise layer. Now why is that important? Because we talk about breakdowns a lot. So if I'm picking up a file from him or anybody and I have to take the one sheet and do multiple files, I need to know what that noise was because I have to duplicate it. And I have to actually do detective work and try a bunch of filters to figure it out. It happens on, I have to say it's the most poorly names layer in our industry is the grain layer. Carlos now names it, I love him for it. Aww. What do you name it? George? Yes. Solar Curve, we talked about that. Minimize frequency separations, we talked about that. We talked about include live type. Shape layers for live type, we talked about this, so I don't wanna, (stutters) pardon me. Streamline smart objects, we know about that. Smart object blending modes, what's that? Inside your smart objects you can have blending layers on blending modes that'll give you trouble. And this has only happened to me once, but man it was a, it took quite a few of us a long time to figure out. Because we weren't looking in the smart objects, we just knew we were getting something goofy come out in the print. But what had happened, we go a logo built from the studio, and they were like don't mess with it. It's in a smart object, leave it alone. It's perfect. I'm like, okay. So you're bringing in this logo, and I open up the smart object just to see what they did 'cause I wanna learn. And it was like, wow that's pretty complicated. Good work, of course we're just gonna do exactly what the client tells us. We put the logo in the artwork, ship it off, it comes back from the printer with the client saying, hey, what are you guys doing wrong? You're bugging up my job here. And I was like, what are you talking about? They're just like, check over here, you got this light pink cut line that goes around the bottom right. Inside the smart object making this logo, they have some adjustment layer that was in there on soft light, hard light. If you looked at it fine, by itself you couldn't see it. But if you put it in on the artwork on the screen, you couldn't see it. Once it printed out, something went a little goofy and it always printed. But you couldn't see it on screen. So then, we started printing it off and it didn't work on this printer, the printer in shop. We couldn't get it to print there. So then we started printing out each and every layer and now they could print out, run Solar Curves, ran the Solar Curves by itself. I was like, it's in the logo. Holy smokes. So then you start breaking down the whole logo, and I was like okay it's on this layer that's on soft light blending mode, there's your culprit. What do you wanna do? And they're like, well just fix it. So, went in and made it some other adjustment. Went through the whole backwards detective story and then we got it figured out, however that can happen to ya. So make sure you know what all that stuff's doing. And if that layer was rasterized, that would have gone away I think. But you're not allowed to rasterize sometimes. Like with studio stuff, you're not. They need it, they want it in there and they want it fully layered. (Lisa growls) So again, it's a little bit of a work around. Alright cool, and we talked add noise to death. So we can move on, yeah? Yeah, but crop intelligently. Oh I'm sorry, did I skip something? I apologize. Crop intelligently? This one... 'cause we like to get images, please don't crop 'em up until a certain point. And up until a certain point is, if you give us this and you crop it there, then sometimes the bleed out horizontal that were, it makes our job harder. However, we have a friend of ours who would finish, this was the shot. This was the poster, right here. And he gave you the entire body. So this right here was 250 megabytes and outside the crop never to be used was another 12 gigs. Was that on that Geisha? What? Was that on the Geisha file? No. Like think of like the poster, like Diary of a Geisha, was it diary of a Geisha? Yeah. Anyway it's a big face poster. So imagine that with the rest of the whole figure and that measure 250 megabytes. Oh! So he sends it out and he was like, well you never crop your images. Like dude, okay, up until a point, you know? You don't send that plus everything in the shot plus the state it was shot in, man. At some point you gotta make a decision. So crop intelligently. At that point, there is another little thing I will do. They'll, here's your crop. This is what's gonna print. And then they'll ask for bleed beyond that. What I do is I, I know what that measurement is, I'll extend the canvas another two inches all the way around and crop that. Then bring the canvas size back in those two inches. Now they have their safety bleed that they asked for. I got another but of safety outside what you can see, just in case. Absolutely, that's a really good point. So, crop intelligently. The file that that gentleman had that was too big, all he had to do was save it fully out layered, the original in the support file and someone could have gone back to it in an emergency. So that would have been a work around. Oh and the other thing on the crop intelligently, if you've got a file and it's cropping here for the one sheet at knee level, don't crop the feet off. Don't. It's just rude, 'cause they're gonna need it for something. You can take, pull that file out, crop it just below the feet, and then pull it back in and crop the whole background and everything out. But leave the feet. That's kind of another crop intelligently, I think. And the top of the heads. Don't ever cut off the top of the heads. You were talking about collapse all smart objects and frequency layers, save the fully layered smart file in your support folder, but then you were just saying to not rasterize that smart object. Oh, that's when someone tells us we can't rasterize it. So that's a really good question. So occasionally clients will say, I need that fully layered file inside that, please don't collapse it. Yes, that's an excellent question. So you've gotta remember we're not the rulers of our, we're not the captains in art. We're... Told what to do. First mates? What do you call the low man on the totem pole. Anyway, so occasionally we will not be allowed to do that, so thank you for that question. We do have more questions. Let's see, there's the one about do you autosave and how often in terms of your workflow and have you ever gotten into trouble by not saving? Oh yes. Auto save, like? Yeah, you can set the computer to automatically save. Really? Haha, look at his face. Yeah, I don't do it. Nah, I don't do it. I love that look on your face. It's just priceless. I don't think I do it. Do I do it? No, baby, you don't do it. Here's why I don't do it. I don't ever want to presume that's being saved. And there's some kind of, oof, there's some kind of handicap I find. If I'm not the one command S-ing, then I feel a little out of control. Also, I make a lot of mistakes. I like make a lot of mistakes and sometimes I need to go backwards and hit revert. And if I autosaved, I don't make a lot of mistakes, I make a few mistakes. Just a few? Just a tiny bit, a few. So I personally don't autosave. I know folks who use other applications that autosave, they're kind of used to it. It scares me. And I'm sorry, was there a second part of that question? Oh, how often do you save? Yeah. I'm gonna tell you, it's a muscle thing. It's all the time, isn't it? Yeah. It doesn't take too many times to get bit. I will tell you, if I could give you a generic idea, one, two, three, four moves. Save. Oh, that was kind of poetic, wasn't it? One, two, three, four, save. I save a lot. Yeah and I, for me if, and this is always just ticking down, I don't even think about it anymore. But if I have just accomplished something I don't wanna repeat, it gets saved at that point. So if I'm clicking through and I'm back and forth between a smart object and a retouch over here, save, okay not yet, too much, undo it. That's what I like. That's the time to save, but... Yeah it's as often as ticking, stretching. I mean every couple of minutes, man. I've got a reason for this. Okay, so imagine we've talked about the ridiculous file size we often work on, 44 gigabyte file. So if you can imagine you're doing revisions. You have a print out and you're checking off yes I did that, yes I did this, yes I did this. When we work in large files, crashes happen often. So, I have had happen many many times where I've got a one sheet that I've crossed off that I've made the corrections, the machine has crashed, I do not know at what point that file crashed. Did I, was that a, 'cause how, when was the last time I saved? And so I may have marked off 75% of my revisions, and then I open up the file and then I'm not sure. Oh my gosh, and I have to go all the way backwards and figure out which, at what point I last saved. So for that reason, I have become a heavy saver. And often on revisions on huge files, on huge files, every revision move, save, sit back an wait. Next revision move, save, sit back and wait because I'm just too afraid. Yeah, better to save more often. Yeah. Than get caught. And have you been caught? I mean? Poof! Yeah. More times than I care to tell you, yes. The first six months, nine months of your career, boy you get, you end up redoing a bunch of stuff. And just to clarify for someone asking, you're not saving every time with a new file name and a new-- No, oh heavens no. You're just saving saving saving. Oh good heavens no, no, no, no. I only save out on versions, like when I'm done. Or if I have merged something and I have to be able to go backwards, then it gets a new name. Right. Oh and that was a good, oh yes. Heavens no. Can you explain that save a copy stuff? 'Cause I got whacked with that just last week. I don't... Alright, so I can explain it in my limited capacity. So in the saving functions, many people will do save a copy to save off. But if you make a change, you can actually end up being working on the original, oh no saving on the copy and not the original. It gets a little confusing. And it's only if you make a change. That scares me, I've been bitten on that many many times. So what I never do save a copy. I never do save a copy. What I do is I go image duplicate. I duplicate the file, I have them both open. I then save the next one out as whatever is needed, and then I close it. That's a better way to do it. Heck yes. Because what I, oh, if I have a file open and I go to Save As, it'll say do you want the alpha channels. When I turn that off and say no I don't want the alpha channels, it saves as a copy? Copy, yep. And then I'm working on my, I'm not working on my next generation, I'm working on my original generation aren't I? Yes. And that, I've, (sighs) I still get whacked on that from time to time. So what I do is I just never, as soon as that stuff comes up I'm like, yeah I aint doing that man. I just duplicate off anymore Yeah, yeah. As an insurance policy, yeah? Yeah.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

File Naming Convention Sample
Estimate Worksheet Form
Finishing Delivery Example
File Naming Convention Explanation
Worksheet & Billing Checklist
Solar Curves Action

Bonus Materials

Adobe Stock Contributor
Alien Skin Software Discount Code

Ratings and Reviews

Bill Buckley

I'm a photographer who wants to be as good at Photoshop as possible. In my field few retouchers get hired, so it's all on me. Plus my creative vision cannot be accomplished by photography alone. Not to mention that in the field, as a photographer I can't always be perfect. Photoshop to the rescue. This is possibly THE best class I've purchased on Creative Live, and they've all been good. Great insight, entertaining, well taught Lisa and Simon were awesome. Bought more LC tutorials based on this course.

Kari A. Youkey

This course just opened my world. I started ( back in the Jurassic era) as an illustrator/drafter ( pen and ink), then CAD programmer, then GIS analyst with photoshop just coming onto the scene pregnant and unplugged focusing on parenting and my inner artist. I was gifted an IPad 6 years ago in the mist of my Taxi Mom years. My favorite ‘hobby’ became manipulating images and an addiction to Adobe apps. Now, In my new empty nest status, I have been trying to figure out my next direction in life....and CreativeLive has been a wonderful resource to explore different creative opportunities, feeling somewhere between photography and graphic design, I wanted to ‘paint’ photos with my tool of choice the tablet, not the camera. ...but it wasn’t until this course that I clicked with an Aha! I don’t have to become an photographer? I could get paid to retouch? Other people’s photos?.....and, I have a work history skill set that backs it up! Thank you so much for this course! Loved the instructors and how they shared their experiences and knowledge. You two have just provided a wonderful map and whole new path to explore and inspired a much needed creative spark to get back to work❤️. Thank You!

a Creativelive Student

Lisa knocked it out of the ball park again! Amazing work Lisa and Simon! I just can't find the many words that express how much I gain with each and every course she teaches. Once again, a wealth of information that was given in a down to earth manner. I absolutely love her teaching style! Amazing course Lisa and Simon, awesome job!

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