Glossy Porcelain Face Retouching Technique Revealed

We all remember Antti Karppinen from his original Photoshop techniques such as color matching for compositing images and creating composites with multiple exposures. In this video, Karppinen takes the challenge one step further and explains how he achieved the porcelain look on his recent project “Ghost in the Shell Robot Geisha” image.

First, he creates the standard frequency separation layers, and uses the lasso tool on the low-frequency layer to make the transitions on the colors smoother. Then, he uses the smudge tool on the high-frequency layer to get rid of all the skin textures to make the model’s face smoother. In this way, he gets the matte looking like a smooth surface on the model’s face.

The second step is the part where you’ll require basic 3D techniques. Karppinen uses Blender which is a free and open-source 3D modeling and rendering software, and he uses a free human head model in Blender, by setting the lights in the 3D scene as he did on his photo shoot. Therefore, he achieves the actual reflections on the final 3D render, that he can use as reflections layer on his photo. The final step of the project is just combining the 3D render with reflections and the actual photo itself, by adjusting with puppet warp tool in Photoshop.

This glossy porcelain looks on models have also been used by the retoucher Cristian Girotto, on his personal projects and collaborations with well-known photographer Tim Tadder. We sure don’t know whether they used the same technique on those projects, but this method that Karppinen explains look quite close in terms of the result.

What do you think about this technique? Would it be possible to achieve the same result without using 3D software? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Dave Kavanagh's picture

I just watched this one recently and loved seeing the clever use of Blender. I can't remember if he mentions it but Blender is completely open source and free to use. Also the site he got that template model from was Blendswap, another great resource with thousands of free models under CC licenses. Its a tool I don't see mixed with Photography often enough. Great video, and great to see it getting a share on here.

Spy Black's picture

Perhaps because any modeler will do he may have wanted to keep it modeler agnostic?

Dave Kavanagh's picture

True, a lot of 3d applications could have achieved these results. I just thought Blender was worth an extra mention as its free with no strings attached.

Spy Black's picture

Yeah, Blender rocks. Ton has seen to it's evolution quite elequently. It's an incredibly capable program today.

antti karppinen's picture

Im not expert on 3D anymore, but with Blender you can achieve some cool stuff even with limited skills :D And it is definitely one amazing open source software. I have used sometimes also Unreal Engine to create 3D enviroments and then put some photos in them as composites.

Dave Kavanagh's picture

Seriously great job Antti. I've only recently been getting back into 3d myself and am very excited about the possibilities for mixing it with some creative shoot ideas in the new year.

Mary Williams's picture

Just watched the tutorial, great video! Thank you! Just found one more informative tutorial on Porcelain skin retouching
Hope it will be also useful for you.

antti karppinen's picture

Thx .. Will check that out!

yep, very nice work Antti !