Friday, May 8, 2009

friday feedback

Today I'm participating in i ♥ faces "Constructive Feedback Friday". Hopefully I'll get some good advice on how to fix up pictures like the one of Simon below (click to see bigger images).

SOOCNikon D40
Aperture Priority
ISO 200
38.0 mm


The problem with many pictures of Simon is the skin around his mouth. Because of his allergies -allergies that we're still trying to completely pin down- his face is often raw and flaky. His most common reaction to foods is for the skin on his face to turn bright red, dry up, the flake off in big scaly chunks.

Not so cute.

Almost as bad are my attempts to edit it out! Normally I give up after making him look like his face is made of plastic (the picture/edit is worse when you click on it). Sure he's a doll, but I don't want him to look like his skin is actual PVC!

Clearly my photo editing skills (or lack there of) are part of the problem. It might very well be that I'm going about this all wrong. Mostly I used the heal and clone tools, but maybe the opacity was too high? It's just hard to cover all the flakes if it's too transparent. Also I'm using Gimp to edit as PS isn't quite in the budget right now. Is Gimp just too limited?

I'd love any advice you can give.

(click HERE for more Simon cuteness.)


  1. I used to use gimp and couldn't make head or tales of it, not that PS is much easier. They both take a lot of work to figure out. Now on to your picture, have you tried using a healing brush around his mouth and I don't know if Gimp has selective coloring or not, if it does use that and lower the reds a little in his face and even out his complexion. Sorry I am not more help..... he's a cutie!!!

  2. ah - i've had to deal with this before. you're right. alot of people go overboard with either cloning or blurring to the point that it doesn't look like a human child anymore :)

    i made an edit for you if you'd like to take a look:

    hopefully you can view it in full screen to see the detail around his mouth. basically, in photoshop, i used the patch/healing tool and a low opacity blur tool to get rid of the flakey areas. for the red spots, i used a hue/saturation layer and selected only those color reds. i limited a mask so it would only affect those areas as well. i then shifted the hue to be a bit more orange/yellow in tone, then brought the saturation down and the lightness up. that way it seemed to blend a little better with the rest of his face.

    i then did some basic curves and level adjustments to the rest of the photo to add some depth and bring out his eyes and some details to his face. did some burning on the edges, etc...

    hope you like it!

  3. I must start off by saying, what a cute little guy here. I don't know anything about Gimp, so I'm sorry about that. However, the things I would look at would be curves, contrast, brightness, shadows and highlights. I like what you did to the eyes.

    As far as the skin goes, it just takes a bit of work. You might want to start off by pulling the saturation of the reds down just a bit, don't try to take it all in that one swoop. Next, go with using your spot healing. Don't feel like you need to get everything with this as well. Lastly, I would look at using either a plugin Portraiture or the Magic Skin Action from MCP Actions. The key with these is to not over due it. Like you were saying, you don't want a plastic looking child. So, you can and I highly suggest adjusting the opacity levels of the magic skin action or if its portraiture you can adjust levels and settings as well.

    Other then that I would do the burning of edges or MCP light edge detail to add just some crispness to the detail.

    I think this is a great picture and have a great Mother's Day.

    B Dad

  4. He is Too cute!! Skin like this CAN be fixed and still look natural. I'm sure there's a way to totally take away the flakiness and the redness, but then you are taking away who HE is. I spent about 30 minutes on the photo. I ran PW's fresh and Colorful action on it, and just lessened the Soft Light layer. Then I played between Cloning, Healing, and Portraiture smoothing out his skin without giving him the PVC look. I Decreased the red by abtou 14%, and sharpened. I think it still looks natural without taking away too much of "him".
    The photo is beautiful, btw. I love natural light!

  5. Hi Amy,

    Do I ever feel for you! My daughter has suffered from a skin condition on her face for three years now, so I totally know what it's like to want to fix up my child's face to look as nicely as possible. I want her to remember herself as the beautiful person I see her as...not as a person who suffered from a skin condition.

    Buying Photoshop CS3 was a lifesaver for me when it comes to this. I edited your photo in CS3 using a lot of Pioneer Woman's actions and a LOT of cloning on his skin.

    I also used Jodi's (from free Touch of Light/Touch of Darkness on his face to help with the dark shadowing.

    Here's my edit: If you have any questions concerning my edit that I didn't explain, please feel free to leave them for me on my blog (

    Thanks for sharing your little cutie with us today!

    co-founder of iHeartFaces

  6. First, what a cutie! :)

    Second, a good alternative to Photoshop is Photoshop Elements which right now is less than $60. I ran a couple hue adjustment layers in Elements and the skin looked night and day different. It literally took me 60 seconds to do. When you have an issue that you have to deal with for every picture, you want to have changes that are quick. (My hue adjustment layers dealt with the red channel - 2x, and the yellow channel 1x) All I did after that was a healing brush at the flaky parts of the skin but very light touch so it wouldn't look fake. Just for fun, I also fiddled with the eyes a bit.

    I would normally do a lot more work on a fix, but my 3 minute fix is posted here:

    You will probably be happy to know that Gimp has a hue adjustment option too that lets you fiddle with different colors. This option worked very well with this picture when I tried it.

  7. I love gimp... I use it all the time. See my site to see some of what I've done. I agree that gimp is nice because it's free... ps is so expensive! I think to get rid of the flakes and redness you could use a layer that is somewhat opaque so it's toned down instead of completely gone.

  8. Just wanted to stop by and say thanks for sharing this photo for this week's fix-it Friday. I had a lot of fun working on it. :)


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