Before the rush

Before the rush
by evan-pak

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I was watching a tutorial the other day on retouching with lightroom, and they showed on effect that was handy to make skin better (smoother, fewer wrinkles, etc.) and said "don't over use this, or you will end up with plastic people". They then tweaked the control to the max, and instant mannequin look.

But I can't remember which control it was. I've got vague memories of it being de-noise or clarify but I could be 100% wrong in my memory

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

They were probably using the local adjustment tool with the clarity set to a negative value.

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Thanks, I tried clarity, and voila, instant plastic people. – Pat Farrell Sep 4 '13 at 19:20

In any photo editing software I would expect over aggressive noise reduction to be the most common cause of this. Heavy use of highlight and shadows could also create some similar problems, but seems less likely.

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There is a 'smooth skin' adjustment brush in LR that can create that effect. Too much skin smoothing doesn't look flattering though! It's best to keep the natural skin texture.. that's how we look like anyways! ;) If there are any wrinkles, etc that doesn't look good on the skin, I just use the healing brush.

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Either setting could equally be what they were describing. The quick way of removing blemishes is to simply remove detail, which is generally accomplished by blending nearby pixels. Both clarity and de-noise will remove minor variations in color areas and result in a loss of skin detail, which when done a little looks like they put on makeup, when done a lot, it looks like they are plastic or flat. The effect of both reducing clarity and increasing the amount of de-noising is nearly identical in terms of what it does to the face.

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