Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies“,” by Lee Varis is indeed a fairly comprehensive guide into Photographing and Retouching people.
“Skin” covers retouching of both sexes and over wide age ranges. This is not a book limited to only pretty glamour girls. Though, many of the techniques are applicable to glamour.
Topics covered include work flow, lighting, back up, color balancing, lots and lots of retouching, etc.
With 432 softcovered pages, “Skin” is text book sized at 10 x 8 x 1 inches.
“Skin” is a how to book, with contents about 50% instructional text and 50% graphics.
Graphics take the form of example drawings, figures, computer screen shots, and photos. The photos include before, after and in process examples.
There is a companion CD of images used as examples for retouching within the book. One may use these as a retouching learning aid in recreating along with the instructions in the text.
A couple of before and after illustrations are include here by way of example of the range of retouching demonstrated in “Skin.”
For example, in the case of the septuagenarian woman, among the techniques used include having eyes lightened, skin smoothed and background/foreground blurring. I’m sure her family was well pleased.
In our second example, the before image of the softly focused gentleman with tambourine shows what can be done using Varis’ multistep “Octave Sharpening” technique.
Sadly I have discarded several similarly out of focus images.
After Octave Sharpening we are presented with a usable shot, from what was before a candidate for deletion.
Being a 2006 ‘vintage’ book, the Photoshop references in “Skin” are calibrated to CS2.
All retouching books have a short shelf life, vis-a-vis software updates. “Skin’s” approach is about as timeless as any I have seen.
Most retouching examples are still valid and remain applicable to PS CS5, and will probably also be applicable beyond CS5.
The level of skill required is a bit beyond beginner just into advanced amateur. You need to know basics about exposure and such. “Skin” starts with portrait lighting and color balancing and goes through some pretty cool retouching.
If you are just interested primarily in retouching, consider also a 7-day free trial to lynda.com for a complementary taste the many excellent Photoshop video instructionals available there.