A few months back I had the opportunity to retouch the R&B singer Dawn Richard, who was gearing up for the next Annual Sexy Body Issue for Kontrol Magazine. For those of you who don’t know, her voice is nothing short of amazing. The images were great right out the camera. Dawn has this uncanny ability to channel her inner seductress. Normally when given an assignment there are boundaries I must stay within. I can then retouch the image within those parameters. In most cases with editorial stories they are either interpreted through lighting, the set, or wardrobe etc.
The latter can be ruled out for this shoot for this story since the set was just a roll of 6×9 grey background paper. So, the lighting was imperative for the story to evoke the feel of “sexy”. After an additional phone conversation with the photographer, I gathered a general sense of the mood we were going for, and I then began to process his vision. It’s at this time you pay close attention to the art director or photographer etc. word choice that is used to describe the mood they’re attempting to capture. For example, if the words chosen were “clean with sort of a 70’s undertone,” it may help to do a quick Google search, and make a mental note of the things you see. This often times helps with deciding color tone and direction of the type of finish you want to use on an image. After the initial conversation from the photographer and art director the word “strong” seemed to be the general undertone of the discussion. So, I based my retouch around this specific theme. To induce this feeling of strong; clean lines, deep jawbone and heavy contrast was a must.
General skin and hair clean up is vital to any retouch. Just be sure to keep contours intact. With celebrity retouching, rule one is never change any features birthmarks, moles, or notable scars, unless asked otherwise. As a celebrity this is how the general public recognizes them on the daily. Dawn’s collarbone is one of her most alluring features; so, changing the intensity of light with the dodge tool was key with this type of lighting set up. The finishing tweaks applied were just really pushing the balance of light and dark to make the image contrast right before it reaches the point of looking crisp.
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