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My Full Photo Retouching Workflow – Start to Finish

Last Updated on November 1, 2020 by Devaun Lennox

Hello my friends, in today’s series of videos I’m going to show you my entire photo editing/retouching workflow from start to finish. My workflow consists in captureone, adobe, lightroom, photoshop and affinityphoto . In today’s video, we’re going to go through each of these applications, bit by bit, as I show you how I use each and some tips from our experience over the years. We will be using a mixture of the #wacom tablet as well as #ipadpro so bear that in mind as well.


Part 1

Part 2


So now we are over on the iPad so this is the photo after I air-dropped it so I just used air-dropped selected my iPad boom it loads up right into photos super convenient we’re loving this so this is fantastic news so this is the photo in on the iPad pro we are using the iPad pro from 2018 this is the ten inch or the 10.5 inch iPad pro where you’re using it an Apple pencil and we’re gonna head over into affinity photo okay so what we’re going to do you guys will see some variety of images that we’ve edited on channel things of that nature but I’m gonna hit the plus

icon and we’re gonna go over to import from Photos recents and it’s gonna be the top left most image alright so here we are in affinity photo the photo is loaded up alright so first things first what I’m going to do just this is a default layout I haven’t changed anything the thing is what I’m gonna do though is I’m actually gonna create a new layer and I had done a YouTube video on this previously so you can kind of watch this this particular video if you want more insight on this but essentially what I’m doing right now is I’m making what I call to edit layers so that I

know as a retoucher or editor what in the and you know what in God’s name I need to fix so as I look at this image I kind of just zoom out and I’m looking at okay we’re in the frame do I see issues so I’m gonna change the pixels I’m gonna basically just use the brush tool right over here the paintbrush change it to a color that’s really easy and that stands out for the rest of the the image and then set the pixels to something small I just do 10 pixels it doesn’t really matter make sure the hardness is a hundred percent opacity and flow hundred percent so what I’m

gonna do is I’m actually gonna draw on the areas that I think are issues especially as I’m zooming out so I could see a spot right here that needs to go the backdrop over here has some issues I’m gonna need to fix that there’s a spot right here and collar bones we’re going to need to take care of that we got some issues right here and we’re gonna just draw on those there’s some stray hairs but I don’t think anyone’s going to see that stuff so I wanted to kind of smooth out this area there’s some issues here some there we’re gonna do some there okay that okay

and do some of those this little area right here I may get rid of that stray here right there it’s a little bit of a spa my lens there fix this unevenness right here between that the backdrop is gonna need some work over here the backdrop paper was has been used for almost a year at this point I’ve just been kind of riding dirty on this backdrop but that’s why I use tape to us preserve your backdrops did a video on that as well if you’d like to see how you can make your backdrops last for a year by all means check out that video we’re gonna need to fix this and that’s no

that’s pretty much it it’s uh not really seeing much more than that there’s some issues down over here as well and okay that’s pretty much it so why do i why do I do this right why why did why do I even spend the time to basically you know make this layer here to then be like okay these are the areas I need to fix because it provides their reference is why I’m doing this a lot of the times when you when you start editing photos you can get just kind of lost and editing and you don’t want to be in that situation you want to just limit yourself to editing a photo of it

for 15 20 minutes 30 minutes maximum you don’t need to go 45 a minute like our 90 minutes two hours three hours on editing a photo you’re just at that’s at that standpoint you’re just kind of being nitpicky and you’re kind of spinning your wheels you should just move on and I had to learn that the hard way so that’s part of the reason why I use to edit layers because it allows me to be like okay these are the specific issues that I’m seeing that are actually issues if I’m not seeing it right now it’s not an issue just don’t worry about it maybe you’ll see it in a print if

you print the image out you may see it then but otherwise don’t worry about it so I’m going to basically use this layer as a reference as I continue going back and forth you guys will kind of see that but essentially what I’m gonna do now I’m gonna just work on these areas I’m almost exclusively going to use the the in painting tool because I just think it’s absolutely awesome historically what I do I normally set the softness or the hard to zero pixels or zero percent rather sorry and I use a brush size between no thirty to a hundred pixels so we’re gonna just turn

that off and I’m just gonna just work on the skin just because that’s gonna be predominantly the areas that are going to need the the most amount of in painting and then I just kind of just go in and we’re just gonna make sure the the brush size is is small relative to the area and just kind of zoom right in and we’re just gonna kind of just in paint away again you have to remember my goal here I’m not necessarily doing high-end beauty retouching because that’s not the focus of this image I’m literally just doing this for Instagram so I’m kind of at this point kind of

going above and beyond for that purpose anyways because people are never gonna be able to see these details unless you’re posting on your website it’s just reality the situation so you don’t really need to go super ham here and that’s part of the reason why I just edited this photo in about 10 minutes but I’m explaining explaining all this stuff to you guys so obviously is gonna take a lot longer but essentially you know this was like a 15 minute at it I just wanted to do a really really quick kind of dirty just get the job done but you guys are seeing my actual

workflow and yes I do like using in painting tool I think it works absolutely fantastically you don’t need to make your life harder than it already is most of us do not like editing and retouching images so by all means just save yourself some time here and just just use the tools that work man you know honestly you don’t need to be the champion that that uses obscure techniques to get the same results that everyone else is getting you know just make it easier on yourself okay but you’ll just kind of see me just brush away here and you know I apologize if the

microphone is picking up me tapping on the screen there’s not really yet a sexy way to do this to kind of have to just go in and just smack away at it alright so we’ll we’ll open that up again and we’ll see some of the issues that I saw originally and again you like I said before you’ll you’ll see me reference that that original layer so I don’t get lost in the weeds of just fixing like basically irrelevant details that I’m not seeing what I’m sooo mning out but right now I’m just gonna focus on the face and work my way down and just fix some of these really quick details I’ll

come back the shoulder or the collarbone rather and I’m just gonna fix some of the details that I knew that I already selected but the in painting tool works great man it’s just like dude it just you don’t need to make harder guys got saying before I do not need to make it harder did I reckon aligned and circle anything down there okay there’s kind of a little issue right here we’re gonna make that a little bit bigger and swype gone uh yeah that’s one that work this was an issue over here so let’s tackle this guy again in painting tool just kind of just brush on it and

brush on it might need to change the hardness on that one but essentially that’ll do and then now we got up to an edge okay I’m gonna show you guys a real quick thing so we use the clone brush 100% hardness and then like I don’t know like you know 20 pixels or so and then we’re just gonna brush right there and brush twice and then what we’re gonna do if you think the edge around it is a little bit ghetto looking use the inpainting tool and then it’ll soften the edges and then you’ll get basically a clean there’s kind of a little bit of an issue right there but

essentially you get it you’ll get a clean clean cut I’m gonna go back and fix that real quick cuz that that was a little bit ghetto didn’t need to be like you know okay there you go and then boom there you are fix that issue in 15 20 seconds 30 seconds maximum alright let’s check our reference layer and kind of see how we’re doing okay we got some issues down over here let’s fix those in painting tool and painting tool boom boom boom alright okay or smack away at those do a little bit more action over here over here okay alright this is all it takes guys 15

minutes or just tapping away with one tool that is the secret the secret sauce it’s I don’t always retouch this way but this is by far the easiest way to do this one thing is as you get kind of down into the weeds over here on the backdrop it does you don’t need to be using a very small brush you can kind of just brush away and I do want to say as a caveat part of the reason why I exported this as a JPEG is for this very reason right here if I’m using big strokes on the inpainting tool if I’m using if I’m editing a TIFF image it’s going to take literally to upwards of two

minutes per stroke depending on how much resolution of your cameras you know I only have a 24 megapixel camera so it’s not really the end of the world but if this was 50 megapixels and it was a full res TIFF Mew swiping once right here would take two to three minutes and it’s just really it’s really just not practical at all so there’s kind of pros and I’m not saying it’s necessarily kana affinity photo but you know the iPad only has so much processing power it’s not a computer so this application is optimized very well for iPad I actually think it’s much better on iPad

than it is on Mac but at the same time it’s it’s still a high-res image it just has too much details there’s a lot of math that it needs to do to figure out the surrounding areas and then blend them in accordingly so it’s not gonna be fantastic at doing that very fast okay and we’ll kind of just do some more of that and yeah there’s a couple of areas here that I’m just gonna swipe real quick okay and then let it do its math and just fix that there’s a couple more areas right there all right so that’ll be decent enough I’m not gonna fix absolutely everything but what I do

want to fix is this over here on the backdrop that was a huge huge issue so we’re gonna fix that real quick there’s a lot of different techniques to do this I’m gonna try the patch tool first and see where we get on the patch tool that was actually pretty decent that was great yeah that’ll work and then it will just use the patch tool all right okay the exposure up here’s a little bit bad so we’re gonna fix that okay okay that’s much better now what I’m going to use is an imp ain’t take it big do a fat brush just like that and see where that gets us uh yeah that’ll work okay

great awesome I was easy there’s a lot of different ways to do this I’m just after a certain point you just kind of I don’t know you just you figure out some of the strategies I will show you guys like the patch tool and painting tool right there that’s a total violin use the healing brush you can use the clone stamp there’s a lot of different ways to fix that specific to you you can make a separate layer you can brush with colors you can do an average layer it has a lot of different ways to fix that I kind of I could show you guys like a billion different techniques on how to fix

that particular issue but that did work okay so where we got right now so I fix all the skin already okay let’s make sure I didn’t miss any of the dust marks okay on the sensor no didn’t miss that one Oh straight here okay easy now we’re gonna go back to our stray hairs tutorial nice look at that I’m just gonna just do that right there oh hold on I was the wrong layer we’re gonna do this right yeah and in painting tool right to the edge too easy I mean come on guys if you’re not using the impending painting tool what are you doing with your lives right now like dude

seriously like at this at this zoom level no one’s even gonna see this little difference right there yes I could fix that I’m not gonna fix it bill it’s just not worth the time okay yes the shoulders right here are an issue so I’m gonna just fix that real quick and we’re gonna want to clone brush go over here blend mode we’re gonna set that to darken we’re gonna make it kind of a brighter brush select our selection a little bit smaller select here and we’re gonna color I wanted to not I don’t want it to move as much turn off the align and see where that gets us okay it’s still

moving too much align with that and we’re gonna just make the scale less no it’s still moving too much [Music] okay let’s go back to 100 mm-hmm okay I’m gonna just do this in smaller waves let’s see where that gets us here it’s getting too close to an edge okay let’s see um okay I’m gonna not fix it with the darkened layer I’m actually going to use the brush paint select this as our color and press and hold we’re gonna use a green okay that’s fine and we’re gonna do this color over it change this to color and then reduce that and use an eraser to fix our little

edge here okay racer and we’ll change those and we’ll just fix that little section there okay that was just part of it okay made a little bit of a difference but I’m gonna have to fix that fix that in Lightroom okay so that gets us pretty much wrapped up with the affinity photo section let’s look at that reference layer again to see if we miss anything I already did the backdrop I’ve already done the dust I fixed this little area over here fixed a stray here’s and yes we are good to go so now what I do just delete these I’m not gonna I’m not gonna keep that one and what I’m

gonna do now is I’m gonna go over here into our documents settings we’re gonna do it export we’re gonna do jpg and we’re gonna leave it as default settings so it’s gonna be two thousand by three thousand which is basically the 50% that I did last time and then we’re going to hit share and we are going to save this image to our photos library so let me go back into photos here and here is the edit so before well after this is the before right here and we just clean that up right there and now we’re gonna go back over into the computer and we’re gonna hit Lightroom and I’m going to show you guys the final color grading and the final a little bit of like flare that I added to the image

Part 3


all right so we are back now reset up the MacBook and we’re about to do the final step of this procedure which is going to be in Lightroom so one thing I didn’t show in the last little segment was that on the iPad essentially what you do when you go into photos you just go into the share setting and then I I’m just gonna airdrop that same image that we exported previously an affinity photo which gets saves to your photos your photos application on iPad we’re just going to airdrop that back over to the macbook so I’m just gonna hit devices here and then it’s

going to airdrop over to our computer and essentially what that does is it just puts the image in your downloads folder right here so we’ll move our our iPad out of frame and we have the image right here so what I’m gonna do essentially right now is I’m gonna import this photo into Lightroom I have a specific desktop on my folder on my desktop that has all the images that I basically need to work on so it’s called refine if you know if you’re curious or whatever but I’m gonna just put the photo into here so I’m gonna come over into Lightroom and now we’re

gonna import the photo in like I said before I already have one of these I have a collection already with with these images so yeah there’s not going to really be anything life-changing there I’m just gonna just refresh the section so a navigator but okay it’s folder library okay we’re gonna hit refine and we’re gonna do synchronize folder synchronize and now here is our image here we are so we are in Lightroom I am using Lightroom classic CC here’s some of the about information if you want you know I’m using version 7 I don’t know if that’s applicable to you

guys it’s just like room lightroom hasn’t changed that much so essentially what we’re gonna be doing in Adobe Lightroom right now is that we’re gonna be doing the final color correction and color grading so I’m gonna be fixing all of the the unevenness in exposure I’m gonna be fixing the unevenness in colors that I don’t like and then applying a final color correction or grade on top on top of the image so that’s essentially what we’re gonna be doing right now and I’m gonna kind of walk you guys through what happened what happened before so let’s go

back to the folders so I’ll show you guys the before and after and then I’m gonna walk you guys through the steps okay so okay when I’m looking at this image there’s a couple of things that I see that we’re gonna need a fix so first and foremost I doubt this image on a blue backdrop because I want it to be something that can basically use as a green screen in this case it’s blue but essentially is going to function as a green screen so I can change the color in post to whatever color I felt best suit in the mood so let’s let’s first and foremost let’s work on that so

we’re gonna go over here into our I guess our selections brush and what we’re gonna do is make sure it’s gonna be set to auto mask which is down here default settings feather and flow hundred percent density hundred percent and all that stuff is fine and we’re gonna adjust the size of it with our bracket keys left or right bracket keys so we’re gonna just paint and then I also want to make sure it’s showing in the mask overlay as well so basically what this when you select that Auto mask you don’t even really need to worry that much about hitting the subject

it’s I mean dude like Lightroom does such a great job when it comes to autumn asking the main thing is you just want to make sure that you make sure you fill in as far as the areas that you do want to be adjusted so because it’s pretty easy to just miss gaps like I missed right there so I’m using this with the trim I’m doing all this stuff with a trackpad right now I’m not gonna be using the Wacom tablet cuz I’m not doing any retouching I’m literally just gonna do a couple of minor adjustments in Lightroom and then we are done I don’t mind the fact that it hit the

hair a little bit there that’s gonna be totally fine I’m not gonna worry about that alright so now let’s deselect show mask layer we’ve we’ve gotten a decent enough mask so what I’m gonna do here I’m gonna basically play around with the temperature the tint and then I’m also gonna play around with the saturation to then get basically essentially that same color this won’t be exactly unless I’d compare based the settings between both images it won’t be exact I’m gonna just do the best I can to essentially replicate ooh I don’t actually want that in here so we’re

gonna undo that I’m gonna do the best I can to replicate that I’m actually gonna fill in some of these sections on the hair just cuz it’s a little bit more obvious than it then it needs to be so I’m just gonna kind of just paint in a little bit and just use that to accentuate the hair a little bit and then use the Alt key to use the subtract function and I’m also gonna change the flow I’m gonna drop the flow down 50% so it’s not as hard and then just kind of paint away some of those areas that are a little bit too hard so something like that okay that looks somewhat

convincing enough cool so that right there changes allows us to select the background but then basically using the temperature chin tint saturation it that allows us to change the color because you can just literally come in here and you can just change it to a number of different colors speaking of which I actually missed an area over here which is a great way to to refine that a little bit okay nice and then hit that right there great but yeah you can just kind of play around with this so I did like a this kind of greenish color up here I didn’t have the tint quite that

high cuz I wanted more of a green it was like somewhere mmm around here –is– I don’t think it was nearly that high like here more saturation and then let’s play around with the tent okay and I still want it more green and then somewhere around here okay so the next thing that I play around with from there I play around with the highlight and shadows as well this is gonna determine the overall exposure of background you notice when I was changing the tint as well that basically functions to change the saturation even though this there’s a separate

saturation slider to slider down here but highlights and shadows are really gonna be able to allow us to really change the drop in this case I’m actually gonna make it a little bit brighter than the original edit that I did I’m gonna just make it a little bit more even like this like something like that okay so now that we have a color that we’re kind of liking what are some of the next issues that I’m seeing okay so for me I’m seeing that down here this is just too bright so let’s fix that so we’re gonna do another custom adjustment and we’re gonna paint down here okay

and get like a decent selection show mask overlay so we can see where we’re working okay we’ll do that something like this and then now what we’re gonna do we’re gonna deselect this and we’re actually going to reduce the highlights okay so that’s looking better from an exposure standpoint but now the saturation to I so now we’re going to just reduce the saturation so that the saturation of up here is is equal to the bottom down here even though there’s more light so we’re gonna change that and then we can play around with the shadows as well to get like a

smoother gradient I’m gonna use the Alt key same flow as before 50% and then I’m gonna just brush off over here to make the transition between those two adjustments a little bit more smooth and then I’m also going to just fix the color by using the tint slider the color is a little bit different as well so we’re gonna fix the color alright so now we have this kind of smoother blue okay so the next thing I’m seeing I’m seeing two more things one thing I’m seeing is that over here this is a lot darker than it needs to be then over here so we’re gonna do another

adjustment show mask overlay and we’re gonna fix the basically the shadows on this side we’re gonna bump up the shadows and then we’re gonna fix the exposure on that side as well so we’re gonna kind of just do that and then bump up the shadows so the backdrop is more evenly exposed throughout I’m also gonna apply it a little bit down here as well and then I’m going to also increase the saturation just a little bit so the color is a little bit more even and then just change the tin so we have that same kind of green so now we have more of an even

green and then just use that same brush technique and do a gentle brush gentle brush okay and then that’s a before and after that’s where we’re getting so far great and the last thing I’m seeing there’s two more things actually actually there’s two more things the exposure on this side is a little bit too bright it’s a little bit distracting so we’re gonna drop the highlights down and then show a mask overlay and we’re gonna paint over here and select this side as well and we’re gonna just select that okay do you select that and then fix the highlights so that the

highlights on both sides of the backdrop are a little bit more even let’s say somewhere around there this section down here so little bit brighter so I’m just gonna add one more and just paint in just this area right here use the Alt key smooth it out a little bit and then we’re going to clear out the shadow it’s just a little bit drop that a little bit more okay before and after okay let me get rid of some of these unnecessary tabs we can work a little bit more seamlessly here okay so the last thing that I’m noticing is that the exposure on her face is a little bit bright so

we’re gonna be the same thing and we’re gonna actually instead of shadows we’re gonna reduce the highlights just a little bit all right okay and then that is essentially it all I’ve done at this point you can apply a little bit more contrast if you’d like you can maybe apply 15 contrast just to have the image pop a little bit more when you’re exporting this over to social media at that point – when you apply more contrast it does increase the saturation so if you want to maintain that you can decrease both the vibrance and the saturation to negative 5 to negative 10 and

then you get you get that a little bit extra bit of pop in terms of contrast without basically without it changing the the colors okay so I’m actually going to make a virtual copy and then what I’m going to do I’m going to show you the difference between that contrast versus no contrast okay okay let me unstack that and then you can see more clearly the difference between the contrast versus the not non contrast yeah so this one over here is contrast this one over here is non contrast it’s gonna be very subtle because again I changed I did reduce the saturation

vibrance but essentially what its gonna do is gonna have a little bit more pop but yes we can we can delete that virtual copy but yes so that right there is the final before and after I didn’t get it quite as close as the original image but you know god forbid I’m just gonna remove that virtual copy it’s not gonna be identical to the original image it’s just a little bit brighter but nonetheless that was the basic the basics of how I edited this image I would actually just drop that down no I wouldn’t actually pump that back up but I would actually just reduce the highlights

down here yes that besson basics of how I edited this image that was the workflow the steps that I took in the exact orders that I took the steps I granted the results are a little bit different I edited them a little bit different just as far as color grading and exposure things of that nature but suffice to say that is how it was done so you know I hope this video I know it was long this is gonna be a multiple set like I said before all the information that you guys need will be in the description down below so definitely check out the timestamps if that’s gonna be beneficial

to you guys but ultimately I hope this video added some value to you guys I hope you guys learned something I hope you got a little bit more insight on on my specific workflow when it comes to editing images for just Instagram and just social media in general it’s just I mean that whole process really took took me 15 minutes obviously I’m explaining this to you guys so it’s very much dragged out but it only takes 15 minutes so I hope that that workflow kind of helps you guys out and you get a little bit more insight you know if you’re new here definitely

consider subscribing thank you so much for watching today’s video hit us up with a like and a comment down below let me know if I kind of missed anything or have any specific questions about our workflow and you know something that maybe I was using a tool you didn’t quite understand let us know in the comments down below and until the next video is my friend peace out

Photo of author

Devaun Lennox

I'm a fashion, beauty, and commercial photographer turned impromptu photojournalist. Based in Las Vegas, my images are graphic, bold, and full-on contrast.