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Full Version: My experiences (and tips)
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I've used PP now for about 30 photoshoots (mostly female models) so I thought I'd share some things I've learned (constantly improving) and would be interested if there are things I could do easier.

1) I shoot in Raw (Nikon) but they don't import well into PP so I use Nikon NX2 to convert Raw to 16-bit TIFFs. They seem to give better results than 8-bit (even though they are very large).

2) My first step for each model is to take a representative image (i.e. one with face, some body skin, eyes open, teeth showing, regular lighting) and use that to build a set of sliders just for this model (which I save with her initials or shoot ref). I will often start with a similar model or go back to a totally plain setting and go through each section. Taking time to get the sliders right and save them for this first image saves huge amount of time for the later images. And also means I have a starting point if I do another shoot with same model later.

3) I rarely use face-sculpting except almost everybody looks better with a little neck lift. I don't consider it modifying the body - I'm really just improving their posture.

4) Next I do skin area. I zoom out, use big brush, tiny detector and cover all the skin (if it's a nude - the whole body gets done). That way I can make total-body fixes very easy (balance hue is particulary use for someone with blotchy skin for instance or red patches but don't over do that one or you lose some definition of features). Don't forget to be extra careful that the eyes and lips/teeth are NOT selected as skin.

5) Next I do hair - mostly to make sure the hair selector didn't go crazy and include bits of the body or background. If you don't really want to bother with hair controls (and I do consider them less important than the skin fixes) - turn of the hair control completely.

6) Back to the skin. I try and fix a lot of problems with the sliders before I start using the touch-up brush. Setting pores, wrinkles, shine, smoothing can fix a lot of issues and then I use the touch-up for problems that are left.

7) Eyes and Lips are key to making an image come alive. I spend a lot of time getting the right level of eye whitening/brightening/iris enhancing etc. Likewise teeth and lips. I always sharpen eyes and only sometimes do the mouth (be sure to scale back the sharpening on teeth if you do sharpen the lips - it never looks good).

8) I generally don't do overall light balancing, contrast, hues etc. in PP - I prefer to save at this point and do that later in either PS Elements or just Windows Live Gallery (an excellent freebie!).

9) I ALWAYS save the session before I finish. It used to be so annoying that I would spend time editing an image - save it and then realise I'd missed something or needed to tweak something. Saving the session means you can back and redo any PP work without having to start over. This one has literally saved me hours of work.

10) I always save as 16-bit Tiff again. I'm still not sure I really need to since it will ultimately end up as an 8-bit JPG - but since I might end up loading it into PSE to do some Liquifying - I prefer not to lose any detail yet.

11) A few things I have only dabbled with but might have some merit in investigating more. There is the option to do skin/hair work on a another face (where you have multiple people). But there's nothing to say that you can't use that to do different settings to different parts of the same person. Maybe do the body skin first (where balance hue and smoothing may be most important) and then do as another face for just working on the face. Might give more flexibility perhaps. (I used this where the shot featured a lot of leg in stockings (which didn't quite hide some blemishs on her legs). I did one set of 'skin settings' for her real skin and another just for the stockings (with different emphasis).

12) I always close PP after working on an image. There seems to be a memory leak somewhere and if i continue to work on one image after another without closing the program - eventually it runs into an out of memory problem. In fact what I do is work one image all the way until I do the final save (which can take a little while since it's TIFF and probably 3000x4000 or so) - then I open another PP session and start loading my next image. Then when the other has saved, I close it down and exit the program. That way I don't waste any time and don't get the memory problem.

Well I seem to have rambled on there. Hope some of that helps and if you think I am missing a trick somewhere, be sure to let me know!
Thanks for this information.

On point 8, I found that if there is a need, this should be the first thing to do. I can't remember the reason behind this.

On your point 12, I always (or >95%), I use PS plugin. So no issue with restarting PP every time.