Judy Blackmore | Digital Strategist |  Marketing & Communication

Retouching Academy Panels

I’ve already talked about the Retouching Academy in this article dedicated to Julia Kuzmenko. Today I want to show you one of the last news that Julia and her fantastic team have launched. The “Retouching Academy Panels”.
Retouch Accademy born as a sharing project in which all the biggest representatives of the photography and retouch show their own knowledge. It has some instructive articles, that give a basis to anyone who want to integrate this chaotic but beautiful world. They share them in some different skills: from the one that begins with the photography and retouch to the one who have already experience and they are at an intermediate level. The auto-promotion, the marketing of the job and the communication with clients and models.
I printed the various articles and I’m studying them one by one, taking notes. They are useful, above all the basics one; even if I (almost) have them I’ve decided to learn them again.

Retouching Academy is not just articles but also e-book and tutorials with fee. I bought:
~ Creative Retouching Essentials In A Day by Julia Kuzmenko.
~ Digital Photo Retouching: Beauty, Fashion & Portrait Photography by Julia Kuzmenko
At the beginning of the year I bought also those video courses:
~ Beauty & Hair Retouching, High End Techniques by Natalia Taffarel
~ The Art of Dodge&Burn by Krunoslav Stifter
~ Pro Retouch 2.0 Action Pack by Julia Kuzmenko
They are no more available on the website of the RA, but you could try to find them on-line.

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Let’s talk about the main topic of the today’s article:

They are Photoshop Panels, and they allow you to accelerate and optimize the time of the post-production of your photos. There are two different kind of panels: “Beauty Retouch” that costs 69$ (From the version CS6 on, they are working also for the CS5 version), and the “Pixel Juggler” that can be freely downloaded from the website.
If you need help to buy/install the panels, there are videos that explain you everything ina simply way.
Before knowing my opinion on these two wonderful panels, let’s see in detail the features of any of them.

[su_heading style=”modern-2-dark” size=”20″ align=”left” margin=”25″]Pixel Juggler[/su_heading]

[su_frame align=”right”]Pixel Juggler Panels[/su_frame]This is the most useful panel for every kind of work on Photoshop: from the post-production of the photos to the creation of blends, wallpapers. It sets the base for the beauty retouch, that will totally use the other panel. It’s for:

~ Create a level with Grey at 50% neutral (and then apply the technique of Dodge&Burn).
~ 90° Rotation both Right and Left, capsizing both vertically and horizontally.
~ Merging all the layers (and flatten the image, merging all the visible layers).
~ Create the “Print” of the picture, without flattening the image, keeping the previous layers.
~ Create the masks in every shape and variation.
~ Reach, without help of the keyboard, the settings of the size both of the picture and the canvas.
~ Flatten the image.
The most exceptional thing is that this tool can be downloaded with just a simple free click, and thanks to the fast installation you can use it right the way. (You need to use, as for all the Photoshops’ extension, Adobe Extention Manager).

[su_heading style=”modern-2-dark” size=”20″ align=”right” margin=”25″]Beauty Retouch Panel[/su_heading]

[su_frame]Beauty Retouch Panel[/su_frame]With just 69$ you can have this wonderful extension of Photoshop, studied by the biggest name of the world of Photography and Photo-Retouch, just for optimize the working time.
There are many options that you can use thanks to that panel.
The most common one as for example: new layer, duplicate layer, the necessary tools for photo-retouch, there are also the buttons for the creation of the local and global Dodge&Burn’s layers.
Besides there is also the possibility to choose the technique of Frequency Separation (the classic one and even by Apply Image) and choose the depth of colour in which you are working for (8 or 16 bit).
The real magic happens in the second part of the panel: starting with a beautiful button that allow you to apply a digital textures to the image, in case you worked hard on the retouch, so that you have not to start again from the beginning.
They added some actions (that I had already, because I bought Julia’s books and the Retouch 2.0 package) that help so much to define the latest details of your image.
They are automatic actions: you need just to switch the button, and then, according to your personal taste or to what the image requires, you have to brush on the mask to disclose the effect in the desired points.
These actions includes: “Glowin Skin”, “Magical Skin Tone”, “Anti-Pink”, that is try to reduce the red spots of the skin, “Magic Eyes” helps to emphasize the color of the eyes, “Magic Smile” whiten teeth’s colour – sometimes I use it also for the white of the eye, or for other details that I want to make them really shiny -, “body and face hairs Removal”.
All these actions help to improve the final image, but they have been used with attention and in the right way. You have to practice a lot especially at the beginning.
The last part of this panel is dedicated to the final check, and to Save the image.

[su_heading style=”modern-2-dark” size=”20″ margin=”25″]My Review[/su_heading]

I’ve been waiting for this two panels for 3 months (or more). My expectations (not disappointed) grow every time that Julia (or someone else of her team) published preview images, because these panels really simplify life.
Remember that they are not magic wands. They will not do your job, they’re not plugin that allow you to have wonderful images with just a simple click.
These are tools that help and standardise the quality of your works, they set a clear and stable method, so that you can offer the best to your clients.
I’m studying from 2 years both the Retouch and the the Manipulation, and I know that the basic and essential stages steal a lot of time, because you have to do the same actions repeatedly.
In these two panels, as you can see, you can find all the actions that help to apply the working stages in a better way above all in the post-production of the fashion photos. The thing that make them special is their own versatility.
Recently I have not worked on the post-production of the photos, so as you can see from the above image, I’ve utilized both panels for the first creation of my “Autumnal Demon”, and a lot of basic stages are been speed by the tools of these panels.
For this kind of work, I use so much Dodge&Burn techniques, frequency split, but also simple tools as clone stamp, selection, free selection; without considering the buttons “Image Size” and “Canvas Size”.
I attended a lot of workshops, and I read a lot of books, trying to obtain the best possible workflow, from all the international artists in that field.
During the last 3 years I created for myself some keyboard shortcuts and actions that have totally simplify my works. I admit that the first days that I used the panels I clicked the buttons on the keyboard, quite sometimes, while now I can arrive till the end of my work without laying my beloved wacom.
Isn’t it a wonderful thing? You have noticed for sure that the arrangement of the various parts of the ‘Beauty Retouch’ Panel guides you to have the right way: the essential retouch first, then the adjustment of the details for make harmonious the whole work, and at the end the control when the work is finished. This is a chance that a lot of artists have never had. It’s a method studied and tried just for optimize time and technique. Isn’t it an impressive thing?
I, personally, would have added the fast access to the “Beauty Retouch” for the pen tool, because I could not live without this tool anymore. According to me this is the only weakness of this product (big flaw huh?)

And what you’ve been waiting for?
Did you tried it?

[su_frame align=”center”]Before and After: Retouching Accademy[/su_frame]

Viotel Beauty & Beauty Elf

As you can see from this picture (and from the links of the projects), the quality of my works is really improved, thanks to the precious Julia’s advice, to the one of her team and also all the work that they do for sharing their knowledge with their users.

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