Maxim-um Photoshop
August 9, 2003 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Digital retouching of models. (via kottke)
posted by gwint (55 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Actually, this one is even freakier.
posted by gwint at 9:28 AM on August 9, 2003

What's weird about some of the images on this site is how little was done, yet how much difference it makes. Like this one. The original's a good photo, but I wouldn't put it in any product brochures. The edited one... I would.
posted by kindall at 9:38 AM on August 9, 2003

Very interesting, though I have to admit, seeing that much detail in a belly-button isn't going to make me want to buy anything.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:43 AM on August 9, 2003

I'd hit it.

But I'm drunk.
posted by Samsonov14 at 9:46 AM on August 9, 2003

I love it when a particular 'star' gets outraged that one of these digital artists gets carried away and "improves" them beyond their own recognition.

still, admirable work by this guy. some of those pixar shots boggle me, so rough and washed out, color-wise...
posted by Busithoth at 9:48 AM on August 9, 2003

On the Pixar one, the mouseover doesn't show the original image, but the additional spot colors he added.
posted by kindall at 9:49 AM on August 9, 2003

Should be required viewing for teenage girls, this...
posted by jokeefe at 9:56 AM on August 9, 2003

the girl from the first link -- it's a good retouching job, but she's way too young to possibly have arthritic knuckles, that's overkill
posted by matteo at 10:15 AM on August 9, 2003

Matteo, you know the roll-over is the original, right?
posted by 4easypayments at 10:28 AM on August 9, 2003

Yikes, this is pretty interesting and bad and good all rolled into one.
posted by riffola at 10:42 AM on August 9, 2003

I recall reading an interview with Cindy Crawford a few years ago, in which she said "When you see a picture of me in a magazine, that's not me. No one looks like that. Even I don't look like that." Now I know what she meant.
posted by iconomy at 10:58 AM on August 9, 2003

Dude, you DO NOT fuck with a man's 'fro. But the work on his uhm... intoxicating eyes... was helpful.
posted by Stan Chin at 11:02 AM on August 9, 2003

does this really come as a surprise to anyone? I have a friend that spent 2 months removing wrinkles from Meg Ryan, frame by frame in photoshop, for a recent movie

and damn, we did a shoot a few years ago with Rosie, and we were told to put a 15% squeeze on every sequence she was in... not that it helped much
posted by badzen at 11:45 AM on August 9, 2003

Next you're going to tell me the stories in penthouse letters aren't real.
posted by mathowie at 11:45 AM on August 9, 2003

One of the more interesting things I've seen recently is this photo shoot of Jamie Lee Curtis.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:53 AM on August 9, 2003

I work where we see the original shots - these days when I look at a magazine I can almost always tell what's been done. It does make a difference in your level of self-confidence. I've worked with some very pretty models, but retouching can take them way beyond anything....human.

I do think teenagers need more media awareness when it comes to this. I know we keep hearing how savvy they are, but unless you do the retouching, I think it's hard to tell just how much we can do.

(And yes, I've considered putting something up myself, but these damned client confidentiality clauses I sign always get in the way....)
posted by Salmonberry at 12:24 PM on August 9, 2003

I'm not against porn or anything, but wouldn't it be great if these things were required on spank mags the way the warning labels are required on cigarette boxes?

I think anorexia is a slightly bigger problem than having to lower your standards. Beer already does that nicely.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:25 PM on August 9, 2003

XQUZYPHYR: that would be a good idea. I have a friend, age 32, size 4, competitive athlete, whose (now-former) boyfriend said she needed to tone her butt. Her reply: "Do you think you're going to date 18-year-olds forever?!"

I wonder if he knows that the 18-year-olds get retouched too.
posted by swerve at 12:30 PM on August 9, 2003

In the case of the TV, I prefer the original.
posted by nthdegx at 12:34 PM on August 9, 2003

I cannot be the only person who thinks that the bikini woman's original body is, like, one million times hotter than the retouch. What's sad, though, is that I would never have noticed how weird and lifeless her retouched hips and waist and everything else are, without having that direct comparison to the real thing.

This is why I never allow myself to read fashion magazines. When you hear that they are taking photos of 5'10" size 0s and stretching them vertically, well, it's time to give up.
posted by hilatron at 12:43 PM on August 9, 2003

I recently had the priviledge to see the promo tape of a video touch up guy. He does this sort of thing for the moving image using a thing called a Henry, made by Quantel, the Paintbox people. He did lots stuff, moving bushes to hide someone's arse, removing zits, tidying up the belly folds of MTV presenters, removing rolls of flesh from the hips in a certain dirty video, making a hometown sweethearts boobs bigger... anyway, now you have seen this sort of thing in stills, know that those shiny videos get a round of digital nip and tuck too. Not so much plastic, as silicon.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 12:55 PM on August 9, 2003

Wow, they've come a long way since they airbrushed Shatners butt to look narrower in Star Trek V (or was it VI).
posted by bobo123 at 1:05 PM on August 9, 2003


Yeah, right.
So many details tell you that the real original must be something in-between, this guy has exaggerated the photos problems just to show off a little.
The lighting of the alleged "original" (it's this guy's word, remember) is, simply, inconsistent. The "original"'s eyes area is simply too dark, like it's been (unprofessionally) lighted from above, but look at her pupils -- the reflection in the pupils suggest a different, more correct lighting
Since we can all agree that the shot was professionally done (it's not a, ahem, MeFi meetup we-have-cameras red-eye-reduction digital snapshot with flash, for example), I have to remind you that on a photo shoot there are stylists, make up artists etc who are present. No makeup artist in his or her right mind, no photographer in his or her right mind, would shoot a model with skin like that without doing something with lighting and make-up first. The attitude is not exactly "she looks like hell but who cares we'll fix it all later on Photoshop". The difference between the just-woke-up model and the picture you see in Maxim is definitely not only Photoshop work. Plus, that 85-year-old knuckle...
Again, these are not actual originals. I've seen hundreds of not-yet-retouched shots. They're far from perfect, but they don't look that bad.
posted by matteo at 1:09 PM on August 9, 2003

Hey, just for fun, why not retouch photos on your own!
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:13 PM on August 9, 2003

Wow, now I don't feel guilty at all for touching up my own photos...
posted by Katemonkey at 2:07 PM on August 9, 2003

i touchup photos of my cats! they're much prettier IRL though :)
posted by poopy at 2:17 PM on August 9, 2003

Again, these are not actual originals. I've seen hundreds of not-yet-retouched shots. They're far from perfect, but they don't look that bad.

Well, the notes do refer to these as "extreme" examples, not typical ones.
posted by JanetLand at 2:41 PM on August 9, 2003

When I was young, Spiderman came to my school and taught us that if someone gives you a "bad" retouch, run and tell a grown-up.
posted by sharksandwich at 2:41 PM on August 9, 2003

Oh, and I beg of someone to make Maria Shriver look like something other than Skeletor?
posted by sharksandwich at 2:46 PM on August 9, 2003

matteo: you're assuming that these photos weren't taken w/the intent to touch them up to show off the digital artist's talent and you're also assuming that every shoot has a stylist and a very professional photographer which many do not especially if it's a new photographer or basic modeling shot and a stylist isn't in the budget.
posted by suprfli at 4:29 PM on August 9, 2003

What I find interesting about this kind of thing is how much of the touchup involves simply removing detail. Smoothing skin, removing irregularities, removing hair, etc. There are some places where detail is added (eyes, e.g.) and some plain ol' alterations (hair size, hip width) but mostly the models are simplified into attractiveness. I suppose a lack of detail makes it easier to idealize the image.
posted by hattifattener at 4:33 PM on August 9, 2003

she's way too young to possibly have arthritic knuckles, that's overkill

Swollen knuckles are very common in both anorexics and bulimics. Mine looked like my grandma's when I was 12. They're still a ring size-and-a-half larger than the rest of my finger.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:45 PM on August 9, 2003

That is fantastic. Great link, thanks.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:10 PM on August 9, 2003

Why the hell is this family wearing those fake noses? Making them not fake is just....wrong. Just wrong.
posted by graventy at 7:31 PM on August 9, 2003

I was wondering the same thing, graventy. I'm thinking it's just that funny family down the street that likes to be different. They posed for a funny family portrait and it wasn't funny enough so they paid some graphic artist to make it funnier.
posted by Fofer at 7:51 PM on August 9, 2003

The pics in the nose one are reversed. They really do have enormous noses, and they paid this guy to make them look like they're only pretending to have enormous noses.
posted by duckstab at 8:48 PM on August 9, 2003

is this a bad time to admit that I retouch just about every photo I publish to my photo site? It ranges from simple color and contrast correction, to removing reflections or unsightly details, to completely removing trees, phone poles or people from the pictures for the sake of better composition.
posted by crunchland at 8:57 PM on August 9, 2003

I thought the nose photo was probably a gag for an advertisement or something, talking about family traits or some wacky ad stuff like that. It never occurred to me it was likely to be a real portrait. In fact, it still doesn't.
posted by John Shaft at 12:18 AM on August 10, 2003

4eastpayments: "Matteo, you know the roll-over is the original, right?"

Well, he doesn't know, and neither does anyone else here. Which I believe is the point he was making.

Is it time to come to the conclusion that nothing we see in the media can be taken as fact? Like those ceepy Stalin pictures from which people disapear, touching up of celebrities may soon become touching up of news footage.

Now, if you'll excuse me, my hat needs a new layer of tinfoil.
posted by fullerine at 4:19 AM on August 10, 2003

It stands to reason that if you want to show off the quality of your work you're going to use the most extreme examples, so it doesn't seem unreasonable that these are genuine. Maybe the photographer was under a lot of preasure, the model had been over indulging the night before and they produced a duff photo. And it's too late to redo the shoot.

The guy says it's an extreme example so maybe this shouldn't be taken as typical but seen as a warning that magazine and catalogue photos shouldn't be taken for the real deal.
posted by dodgygeezer at 4:54 AM on August 10, 2003

matteo - I completely agree with you. After three years of fashion work with local mags, I know there's no way a makup artist wouldn't have thrown about three layers of foundation on her if she looked like that.

Not to mention, this is just really bad pshop'ing. Look at the closeup of her face -- she's got no pores. Come on. I guarantee you that everyone here (yes, you too!) could do this with about 10 minutes of training in Photoshop. If you really want to show off, try taking a cover of the most recent Cosmo or Glamour and changing the race of the cover model without it looking fake and manipulated. This guy could benefit from a less heavy-handed approach.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:57 AM on August 10, 2003

I guess the point (at least for me) isn't really if the "originals" are really the original photos or not. This excercise simply shows how much of a difference retouching can make between one image and another.

And it is impressive.
posted by sic at 7:46 AM on August 10, 2003

"...On this image I was asked to make her look younger, take out the wrinkles and pores, remove the sneer...."

He forgot to mention that he shrunk the (blond model's) cranial capacity by about 200cc. Check out the amazing (shrinking) top of her head!

Fullerine - I've read testimony by people at GW Bush photo op shoots ( umm....'talks' with supporters, that is ) during the 2002 election campaign who said that their husbands/wives were airbrushed out of pictures taken of such events. Then there's this recent furor over an LA Times reporter's "improvement" of a photo from Iraq

Not to mention the notorious London Evening Standard's "Iraqi Crowd" photoshopped picture. The Standard still denies that this absurdly obvious retouch job photo has been tampered with. (via )

I'd guess that ths sort of thing is going on all the time, and that less ham-fisted Photoshop auteurs are slaving away even as I type - in PR boilerooms at newspapers and government agencies - to craft compelling (and false) visual realities which sell the official line the way Burger King and McDonald's sell their tasty and health promoting cuisine.
posted by troutfishing at 7:52 AM on August 10, 2003

no, he did mention that, troutfishing; he explained that the original perspective looked odd, that he thought this came from the photographer's use of a long lens, and that he shrunk the top of her head so her hairstyle would look less poofy.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:24 AM on August 10, 2003

Someone needs to publish the auditory equivalent: isolate the original vocal tracks of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and the boy band du jour without any postprocessing. Now that would be good for a laugh.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:29 AM on August 10, 2003

George_Spiggot : A fine example of what you're after is this little Linda McCartney gem. (Embedded 700Kb WAV file). Brings a tear to m'eye every time.
posted by punilux at 12:30 PM on August 10, 2003

that the original perspective looked odd, that he thought this came from the photographer's use of a long lens...

That doesn't make sense to me. Long lenses are used for portraits specifically because they tend to have less distortion than shorter lenses. Maybe she just has poofy hair.
posted by slipperywhenwet at 12:40 PM on August 10, 2003

Maybe big-headed females are considered less sexy by men, who find female intelligence threatening?

[ Then again......'poofy hair'......hmmmm ]
posted by troutfishing at 1:20 PM on August 10, 2003

Mars Saxman - How would you feel if your photographer retouched your photo, explaining: "you had poofy hair, so I had to shrink your head a little!"
posted by troutfishing at 1:23 PM on August 10, 2003

um, non sequitur much, troutfishing? I have no opinion on the matter; just reporting the guy's own explanation.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:49 PM on August 10, 2003

I have poofy hair, and that, my friends, is not true poofy hair.
posted by thebabelfish at 2:21 PM on August 10, 2003

slipperywhenwet -
With wide-angle-lenses, things/facial features that are closer to the camera are more accentuated. Thus, like you said, they're bad for portraiture because people are distorted - get close enough and the subject's nose is HUGE, and he/she/it's ears are actually blocked by the cheekbones. I think that's what the retoucher is referring to here - with a short lens, the model's forehead would have blocked the "poofy" back corner of her head.
posted by notsnot at 4:15 PM on August 10, 2003

Arthritic knuckles? The model's "before" knuckles look about like mine. I'm 34 and otherwise probably look younger than she does, but I have thin hands and knobby knuckles, and always have. There isn't anything unrealistic about her hands, and they certainly don't look 80 years old.
posted by xeney at 7:17 PM on August 10, 2003

when i think about me i retouch myself.
posted by quonsar at 10:29 PM on August 10, 2003

Not to mention, this is just really bad pshop'ing. Look at the closeup of her face -- she's got no pores.

He addresses this:


It doesn't seem natural to me to take out every curve, to airbrush out every blemish, but what the Art Director wants, the Art Director will get. This shows an extreme example of how far an image can be taken. Use the thumbnail links on the left to zoom into areas of the image.

posted by kayjay at 7:05 PM on August 12, 2003

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