The Talent of Retouchers Before the Digital Era
I stumbled upon this picture on reddit.com. This was the caption:
My father lost a lot of business as an illustrator and photo retoucher when Photoshop and computers took over. He now works as a mailman. This is a picture he painted (with brush and airbrush) when he was 20 years old in 1970.
Locally, I work with a photographer who started when he was 20 years old, today he’s around 70 and still shooting full time. We sat down and he told me about retouchers long ago. He told me how talented people had to be back then and that they HAD to possess very fine drawing and painting skills to make it. This was him saying this. He was showing me works the retoucher did on his own images. He even told me stories how his retoucher worked on portraits of the President and notable figures too. So she was in huge demand. He told me how they had to paint directly on the photograph to remove things and manipulate areas of the image.
These art skills still prove relative today. I can’t begin to tell you how many circumstances my own ability to do the same has saved me when fixing areas I would otherwise need outside resources for.
I agreed with him, and even though he didn’t realize what it takes today, I can imagine how different it was back then. The perception he had was “today it’s all done in the computer so it doesn’t take real talent”. Of course I just smiled and tried to explain how it’s the same, but in a different manner and how the same principles apply.
Back to the story of this image.
This image above, was just a testment to some of the fine skill many retouchers also had before computing began.
So now the question is why didn’t this man adapt to retouching on the computer? Read on below to some questions and answers from the public on this topic.
Q: It’s a shame he didn’t retrain. He’s clearly a very talented artist. Photoshop and a Wacom tablet are just new tools to be learned.
A: i’m reading the comments to him now. He says he doesn’t like the idea of painting with a plastic pen on a computer. he prefers using real paint and a canvas. An artist of the old school. He still paints but now only for our own walls. My parents whole house is decorated with his art. Lately he has gotten into more abstract motifs. I personally love his work!
Q: Maybe you could have him try a demo of Corel Painter? Photoshop was made more for retouching photos than drawing, but Corel was made specifically for imitating traditional art techniques. He might like it a little more. Can’t suggest anything for the wacom though. That does take getting used to.
A: a lot of the commissions he did back in the day was retouching photos. Stuff any guy with a computer can do today. He painted directly on the photo. He was really good at it. Stuff like removing reflections in glasses.
As you can see, some of the same mentality still exists and is shared by this story as well. “Anyone with a computer can do it today.” Even though that is much farther from the truth, I have tremendous respect for the talented retouchers of the past.
The other main difference today, than before, is you simply cannot just (digitally) paint on an imagine anymore (via layers of course), but you have to reconstruct areas, and maintain the pristine texture of whatever it is your replacing, so the complexity has increased tremendously.
Read the other questions and answers below via the source.