Thanks to constantly evolving technology in cameras, lenses, software, makeup mediums and techniques we are seeing everything in High Definition/High Perfection. You only have to go to the App store to download the latest and greatest in “Photo filtering” to know we are perfection obsessed.
As a Makeup Artist working the digital age you are accustomed to “Photoshop” and “Retouching”, it’s almost unheard of these days to use a “Raw” image whether it’s for commercial, beauty or editorial work.
I sat down (over Facebook!) with high end retoucher Pratik Naik of Solstice Retouch to gain insight into what a retoucher of his caliber expects from a Makeup Artist.
With over 10 years experience and classical training in fine art Pratik’s work can be seen in major publications such as Marie Claire, Elle, Zink, GQ, and many more. With an impressive list of celebrities he has worked on including Halle Berry, Paris Hilton, Cameron Diaz, Jessica Alba, and Ellen Page to name a few, Pratik is also a mentor and instructor to photographers and retouchers’ across the world.
I was privileged enough to have Pratik retouch (and make a tutorial) a photo collaboration between myself and photographer Joe Prileszky, not only is his work astounding but he is incredibly supportive of creatives in the industry constantly sharing and promoting others’ work. I was humbled by his genuine demeanor and encouraging nature that I thought there was no one better to seek advice from than the maestro himself.
When it comes to retouching an image , what is the first thing you look for from a makeup artist?
Retouchers’ appreciate great makeup artists the most, when we spend less time fixing the makeup, the image turns out better. We look for straight lines where they need to be (eyeliner, lipstick lines) and beautiful transitions on eyeshadow and contouring. Also, the worst is seeing tarantula eyes or clumping in the eye lashes.I think the hardest part about retouching a beauty shot is fixing lips that are dry and cracked. It’s hard to fix all that and still showcase the lipstick effectively.
What is the hardest feature/part of retouching a face ?
For me, the eyebrow area can be a tricky one. If it’s not done properly, cleanup can be annoying. Or if the makeup artist uses too much filler, it’s hard to remove that. I would recommend being conservative, because it’s easier to fill later than remove. The absolute hardest is the eyeliner. Fixing that between each eyelash if done wrong can be a nightmare.
Is the “less is more” a better approach when it comes foundation on the skin?
Absolutely! Cameras these days pick up every detail and foundation should look seamless. If it’s caked on, we’re going to notice. I appreciate those that can do a good foundation because foundation should not cover the pores to a complete degree, but mostly just even out the skin tone. I think there’s a fine line and it’s easy to fix color issues on the skin than it is to take off foundation in the retouching process.
What’s the most common mistake you come across when it comes to retouching a beauty image?
I think all the things I mentioned before exemplify the mistakes that can easily happen when retouching an image as far as the makeup goes. Also, if someone has fine lines and is of older age, make sure the makeup doesn’t get in between the wrinkles in an identifiable way.
What’s your favorite beauty look to retouch?
I am very partial to natural looks where natural tones are emphasized by the makeup artist in a seamless way! I like the looks where the makeup artist really gets to display his or her strengths. Seeing them showcase their best effort is great regardless of the type of look.
With your knowledge and expertise of being a retoucher do you wish sometimes you could just do the makeup?
Honestly, I feel like even with the ability to retouch, it takes a very unique and trained craftsman or craftswoman to be a makeup artist. It’s just another realm of art that is on a tangent to retouching. It takes a whole different level of understanding compensation. For instance, if a woman has red skin, we can easily de-saturate or change the color of the red in Photoshop. In reality, you need to know color theory in order to mask it and blend it into the surrounding skin. I actually tried a couple of times and I failed. I know how hard it is and I speak to many talented folks and would rather leave it to them.
What’s your best advice for a makeup artist from a retoucher’s point of view?
Apprentice with an established and talented makeup artist. Also, work as though there won’t be any retouching because usually, you will be recommended to others by the quality of your work before retouching.
And finally…who has been your favorite celebrity to retouch?
I would say Jessica Alba, because she looks just like you would imagine in still as you would see in video! She is beautiful as ever and barely needed much work.