Julia Kuzmenko is an internationally published photographer and highly sought after professional retoucher. Currently she shoots and retouches some of the most beautiful women in the world. Recently, Kuzmenko has written an interactive e-book on digital retouching.
Do you consider yourself photographer first or digital artist first and why?
I think of myself as of a visual artist, first and foremost. I utilize a whole list of artistic media. I’ve been painting and drawing since I was a child, so Photoshop just became my new playground. Photography is a newer passion, sort of a shortcut to a final picture, the base on which I paint with Photoshop. Retouching is just a slightly different way of painting with its own rules, tricks and techniques for me.
What are some things that retouchers do today that you dislike?
Work on 300% zoom and for 30 hours on one picture. I don’t have that luxury. I am too busy to invest that much time into just one image. That’s why I work very fast and that’s what I teach.
What are common mistakes that newbie retouchers make?
Disregard the importance of basic knowledge of the software, try one tool and use if for everything, disregard the importance of color theory, and blur the heck out of skin.
Can you tell us your process for skin retouching?
I have created a few Photoshop actions for skin retouching. They don’t do the actual retouching for me, but they set up the layers for me so I don’t waste my time on that. I mainly combine Frequency Separation with Dodging & Burning in a way that I haven’t seen anyone else to do it. It’s nothing complicated. It’s a very clean and simple technique that a rookie can get the hang of in a heartbeat. I will include detailed descriptions of how I do that in my future advanced retouching eBook.
As for the tools, I always use the spot healing brush, healing brush, clone stamp tool, brush and a little bit of patch tool. You can watch a video about professional retouching tutorials below.
Your concepts are incredibly unique. How do you come up with your ideas?
Thanks for the kind words, but like any artist I feel that there’s always a lot to improve and achieve, and my portfolio is still far from where I want it to be.
A lot of concepts come from collaborations and ideas of the fellow-artists I work with: makeup artists, hair stylists, fashion designers and other creatives. A lot comes from visual and musical inspiration.
(Photo by Brad Lovell, retouching by Julia Kuzmenko)
I noticed you add eyelashes in post. Where would one get those eyelash templates?
That’s very easy: Google “Digital eyelashes photoshop” or something in those lines, you will find hundreds of files or brushes.
What are three ways someone can improve their retouching skills?
Watch a lot of video tutorials and absorb all the information you can get your hands on.
Practice the techniques you learn as much as you can
See what works for your best and continue improving and fine-tuning your own routine. The way you retouch doesn’t have to be exactly the same as any other photographer’s or retoucher’s out there to get brilliant results. You will succeed sooner if you figure out what works best for you.
Whose work inspires you?
I love the art of my photographer-friend from Moscow Jean Osipyan.
I absolutely love his colors, very strong framing, and composition. I love his photo manipulations. I was very fortunate to meet up with him a few weeks ago during my trip to Moscow and we talked about creating an eBook on Digital Art in 2013. Jean is also one of my Guest Artists in the retouching book by Mad Artist Publishing that is coming very soon.
Learn more from Julia Kuzmenko by getting her retouching e-book on PhotoWhoa for 50% off! Only for a limited time!