This in-progress page offers technical guidance to ensure your restorations are approved. We'd also like to encourage gmail users to join our invite only Google+ Community Restoration Volunteer Forum. 135+ are already participants! Thanks again for helping to make this community effort possible, and for lending your time and talents.
Our first LIVE YouTube-streamed CARE for Sandy Google+ Community tutorial led by forum moderator Boris Polonsky
PAINTING VERSUS PIXEL SAMPLING
We've noticed many of you are incredibly skilled at painting. Unfortunately we cannot accept restorations that look heavily 'painted', as these begin to feel more like illustrations. Harsh but true fact: RIPS that have been or 'feel' painted WILL be rejected. Pixel sampling (cloning/stamping/spot healing/patching) is tedious but necessary when photos display lots of surface grime. Do not 'paint' or 'draw' in full or partial elements unless you possess photo-realism skills and have received permission to do so. And be very careful to avoid techniques that result in smudging.
ALTERING ORIGINAL PHOTO TEXTURE OR CRISPNESS (INCLUDING VIA BLURRING)
Please refrain from using the (heavily-trending) dust & scratches filter to "disguise" surface debris unless you are a trained professional who knows how to use this tool or other noise modifiers in isolated, masked moderation. When the dust & scratches filter is applied over an entire image 'as is', it tends to do little more than blur, and can also strip color from finely detailed areas like lips, eyes and fingernails. Avoid blurring, in general, as well. Especially in focal areas, e.g. faces. It is important to keep all photos as crisp as possible, and to retain original texture, be this due to old-school ISO 800 or printing paper. Doing so will keep quality stellar, plus ensure that photos that belong to a series can be altered by staff, if necessary, to match.
We're also looking for consistency. For instance if sky, a wall or a vast expanse of fabric is textured in one area per its original, but has been smoothed out/blurred/painted over elsewhere, we're going to notice and ask for amendments.
SILHOUETTING FIGURES PAIRED WITH SOLID BACKGROUNDS
We realize it's tempting to speed up restorations. Many of you are attempting to do so by getting rid of monochromatic backgrounds in favor of solid color fills paired with figure silhouetting. This is cheating (!!!) and almost always looks unnatural. Per the paragraph above, we prefer to maintain original texture at all times. Consider repairing a portion of the original background that appears to be damaged, then replicate this area to 'fill' remaining damaged areas.
CROPPING + ROTATING+ SHIFTING
Please remember that our photo adoption guidelines specify to never crop or rotate (or shift) an image. Images that have been cropped cannot be accepted. Especially those of you who have been cropping out 'difficult' parts. If you'd like us to consider making an exception, drop us a line before getting started.
SURFACE DEBRIS + NEGLECTING THE DETAILS
Most of our images have been scanned at 600dpi, both to give retouchers enough detail to work with and so that families will be able to print out photos at 200% for enlarged framing. So when repairing your photo - ZOOM IN. To at least 200%. If you see lint/specks/dirt/dust/scratche
CONSISTENCY OF EDGES + LINE QUALITY
Watch the way in which you treat edges. Are the original edges soft? Use a soft stamp. Are they sharp? Mimic the original's sharp edges. Consistency is key. Please avoid leaving tell-tale trails, with hodge-podge object edge treatments. (Example: We're seeing lots of "drawn" architectural elements with ultra sharp edges which look odd when paired with the softness of a given image's originals lineations.)
COSMETIC CHANGES + MAINTAINING FACIAL FEATURES
Please refrain from making arbitrary cosmetic changes. For all you know that foot you've been tempted to remove may be the last remaining 'image' of a loved one. That pot you're dying to clone away may have been where dad hid mom's wedding ring. That bag or bush or beer can may have significance we're not aware of. It's our job to restore these photos, albeit not play 'God'. The former includes the removal of details you might feel are too difficult to repair. If you feel VERY strongly about removing a detail, please ask for permission. We're willing to make exceptions.
Conversely, please do not embellish photos with items you feel are 'cool' or 'better than the original'. No need to add or alter the original state of a given photo area, unless using a creative commons image to repair a completely demolished area.
Examples? We've received restorations in which eyes have been enlarged or flipped. Volunteers also love to remove natural shadows/contours that help maintain an image's 3D quality, glorious freckles, signature moles, happy time-worn wrinkles and 'extra' weight. Hollywood teeth whitening and artifical eye enhancing are also de rigeur. (One RIP we received even contained a random Campbell's soup can, where no can existed before.) Aim for naturalness at all times.
Most importantly, be very careful to ensure that your portrait looks like 'that' person, not just any person. Is the jawline the same? Has the nose changed its shape? Are the eyes accurate?
sRGB VS ADOBE RGB + GRAYSCALE
Beginners may not realize how much helpful detail exists in black and white images that have been scanned in RGB mode. Channels are our friends! For this reason we ask that you correct your image in RGB without converting to grayscale. Use a black & white adjustment layer within your RGB file, instead.
Additionally, if your original profile is sRGB, do not convert to Adobe RGB. Sounds crazy to you pros, right? The reason is this: online printing vendors most commonly used by families will NOT accept Adobe RGB files. Only sRGB is accepted.
OVER-SATURATION OF DARKS + OVER-BRIGHTENING OF LIGHTS
Please be very careful not to over-saturate blacks, nor blow out light areas. When you do so we lose all of an image's magnificent mid-tone values, that distinguish hair, folds in clothing and so on. Auto levels will rarely aptly color correct a given image. Play with curves/exposure/photo filters/color balance/channels and so on, and mask individual areas if need be. This comment applies to black & white images in particular.
Sometimes treating an entire image universally will not achieve the best results. Masking select areas may sometimes be necessary.
COLOR CORRECT W' SEPARATE ADJUSTMENT LAYERS
We'd like to ask that you make sure you perform all of your basic improvements on pre-color treated layers, never AFTER adjusting tone or color, in case staff needs to step in to help. Also watch the yellows in full-color images. At least half of all restorations are coming back on the yellow side. Use non-sallow skin tone as your benchmark, and the whitest whites. If unfamiliar with "selective color" adjustments, you're going to love this video.
No artificial color tinting please! Exception being if you've received a studio-tinted, vintage image like this one, in need of a refresh. Hue saturating the entire surface of a faded portrait is not color correcting. Photoshop curves and selective color adjustments are capable of restoration magic. Aim for naturalness at all times.
SHARPEN/UNSHARP MASK FILTERS
Let's face it. Some of these photos were not high-quality to begin with, which means many are not as crisp as we'd like them to be. But please refrain from over-zealously applying sharpening filters. Many sharpening "tricks" permanently alter the texture of a photo, and produce unnatural grain. (If you'd like to send us a sharpened variation, definitely feel free to do so. But please be sure to send a variation that does not contain any sharpening, as well.)
FORGETTING TO ADD NAMING EXTENSIONS
25% of images are currently being returned with the wrong naming convention. When you neglect to add personalized naming extensions, we run the risk of having an original file overridden by your restoration. Review our naming/extension conventions here under STEP #6.
ADVANCED SKILLS DEFINED
Advanced volunteers need to be high-end professional retouchers/restorers (e.g. with advertising, film or beauty clients) -OR- have provided truly advanced samples which demonstrate that a given volunteer has the ability to realistically reconstruct faces, hands, skin and missing areas in general without significant coaching from our staff. Therefore please refrain from requesting ADOPT ME! Advanced images unless you meet these requirements. Here are a few genuinely advanced before/afters to inspire:
If you've belatedly realized you've adopted an image which surpasses your skill level, let us know! We'll gladly let you choose a new image and can reinsert your prior adoption back into our album pool.
XOX CARE for Sandy XOX