While I keep retouching to a minimum on my portrait work, fantasy images are digital art. In order to create the fantasy character or world, I have to extensively retouch the image.
There is a lot of push back in the media regarding retouching. For portraits, I get everything in camera correct: exposure, pose, lighting, etc. When you do that, the need for retouching is minimal. My job is it know the most flattering poses for every body type. We are all beautiful in our own ways and I understand the pushback to an extent. It is important for young, impressionable girls and boys to understand that advertisers are selling a fantasy. Therefore, the images in glossy magazines and online are heavily retouched to create a dream world or image even though they appear to be a reality.
That is not too far from my fantasy images. However, my fantasy images are unapologetically fantasy. There is no mistaking that the image is a fictional character and therefore, that character doesn't seem to be a reality. I love creating digital art and fantasy characters. I do not apologize for my retouching. It is an art form.
On to the image:
I did absolutely nothing to the before image. I shoot in raw and usually you need to adjust contrast, saturation, sharpen, etc. In addition, for portraits, I would have retouched the blemishes so here you have the model in all her naturalness (sorry Deirdra). I did not do any of that retouching so you could see the completely untouched image. All I did was convert to jpg and add my watermark.
As you can see, the makeup artist, Melanie Jean, did a wonderful job creating white eyelashes and a icy blue band around the model's, Deirdra MacIntyre Cowen's, eyes. However, her skin still appears pinkish, which is reality. During my retouching, I felt that the lips and eyes needed to blend in with the skin, so I changed the makeup. This is no offense to Melanie. When working through a fantasy retouch, a lot of things end up changing.
You can also see that the crop, pose, exposure, lighting, and everything else remains exactly as I caught it in camera. This is what I mean by getting everything right in camera.
Deirdra brought the candle thinking it would be an icy item to fit the theme. I didn't think the candle fit exactly, but I knew by having her actually hold something, her hands would naturally be in the right position for me to drop something more suitable into the image at a later time. That item ended up being an ornament that I photographed with the same lighting scheme as I used on Deirdra. I then dropped it into her hands during post-processing (retouching).
So there you have it, the before and after of the Ice Witch.