Thursday, June 14, 2007

Doll Eyes

Ok, I'd love to start this entry with an illustrative picture, but I haven't been able to confirm if it is legal and since I won't only be writing complements, I'll skip it this time around. So before you read the rest of this post, take a quick look at Toni Overby's site. Just the front page will do, you'll instantly get the background you need. Note to self: figure out when I can post other people's pictures and when I can't.

Apparently, it is possible to make a decent living by taking pictures of young girls made up to look like grown women and retouching them into plastic doll-like approximations. From what I can tell, Toni Overby literally clones in doll's eyes. Yes, she replaces a girls eyes with eyes from a doll. And Toni O. isn't the only one, take a look at this retouching artist (nicknamed Crazy Doll Lady) -- she'll take a young girl and swap out the eyes, mouth, and soul!

BTW, I should cite my sources: these three threads on DPC. While you're at it, Something Awful has a hilarious post about a quasi-legal interaction with the second retouching artist. This post (and the links) could easily be a waste of an hour :)

Look, I totally understand that some retouching is necessary, unless you are a photojournalist. Minor fixes are a simple way to remove seriously distracting (but still minor) items from a picture. And, if you want to get more extreme, Worth1000 has lots of advanced Photoshop contests -- there is a place for heavily photoshopped images too, although I consider them more computer art than photographs.

For instance, in a recent TFCD photo (which already required some heavy processing to save the image from my mistake) A. was squeezing D. so hard her neck made a strange bulge (as a photographer, I should have caught that, but my (lack of) posing is for another post). Now, D. has a fine neck and this is just a result of a strong child. In fact, the whole family is very photogenic, and I did very little retouching over all. But I wanted to fix the photo so it didn't look like D. had a goiter.

So, a few minutes with the smudge tool in PSP XI and I brought her neck to where it was supposed to be. Above are the before and after crops. Does it look completely normal? No. Does it look edited? I don't think so, but judge for yourself in the image below. My goal was just to get rid of a visual artifact that could draw the eye.

FYI, smudge will let you drag a group of pixels, stretching and blurring the pixels nearby to make it look semi-normal. It works great if the background isn't textured.
I believe liquify is the equivalent in PhotoShop.

Anyway, back to Toni Overby and company.

Let's face it, everyone does retouching. I doubt a magazine cover is ever submitted to the printer without retouching. According to Photomedic (here and here), it is pretty standard in the fashion industry to make "Hollywood eyes", or increase a model's eye size by 8%. And if you haven't seem them yet, look at the Dove 'evolution' video and the portfolios of some of the magazine cover retouchers -- downright amazing what they can do (move the mouse over the images to see the wrinkles melt away and the breasts plump up!).

And if you are female, I hope those sites put the reality of beauty into perspective versus the fantasy you see in magazines.

Toni Overby and Crazy Doll Lady go to the extreme of adding something that was never there in the first place. As a father of a three year old girl, I find it appalling that not only are these girls under pressure to look pretty in pageants but now they're being told that they have the wrong eyes and mouth (among other things in CDL's lists).

Yeah, that's a quick way to develop an image disorder, which most women seem to acquire anyway (at least to a small degree) without much help. I sincerely hope the girls don't see those retouching pages.

Is there a place for that type of retouching? Yes, if people will pay for it, artists will fill that void. Obviously, there are some parents out there that do want their daughters to be retouched into dolls.

But you won't catch me increasing the size of my daughter's eyes -- they're huge already!

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

I know this is an old post, but I completely agree. It's disgusting. I think most retouched photos just look fake and gross. Great post!!!