Just about anyone who has played with Photoshop a bit can learn about portrait retouching from YouTube, as there are tens of thousands of videos on there covering the many and varied methods involved in the process. But what about tutorials for photographers who are legitimately brand new to Photoshop, and have never used it?
To say that Adobe Photoshop is an enigma for the uninitiated would be an understatement. Those of us with some or lots of experience with Photoshop tend to forget how bewildering it can be to open the program for the first time. As intuitive as the interface is for experienced retouchers in their workflow, it's actually quite confusing for new users.
For example, let's say you have a friend who just installed Photoshop for the first time, they've never used it before, and they want to edit their portraits with it. Your friend sends you a text asking for how to get started, and you reply with "Definitely you want to learn dodging and burning for skin work; it's the only way to go!" with all of the best intentions. However, your friend doesn't even know what a layer is, never mind an adjustment layer, or what the brush tool and it's opacity and flow settings are, etc. Your well intended advice falls on deaf ears because you didn't meet them where they are at, experience wise. Your friend could very well be the next internationally celebrated portrait retoucher of the near future, but they have to start somewhere. And as they say, there is no better place to start than at the beginning.
I've found that there is a woeful lack of video tutorials on YouTube that I would describe as "How to learn Photoshop for the brand new beginner when you want to get into portrait retouching." Eventually, new users fumble around enough, and things start to sort of make sense to them in Photoshop. This fumbling process can be frustrating and time consuming, sure, but that is the case with any skill you want to learn.
The bigger concern, in my opinion, is that random fumbling around can lead to holes in your knowledge of the tools available to you because you simply didn't notice, or tried, a specific function (or several). I can't tell you how many intermediate experienced retouchers I have taught didn't know what blend modes were, or masks, or even layers. And some of the intermediate Photoshop users had been editing their images for 1-2 years. They were "making it work", but they were doing things wholly inefficiently and inaccurately. All because they clicked around in Photoshop, on their own, until things happened that looked promising to them – so they ran with it.
That's not to say they did anything wrong, or that they are no good at retouching and never will be. It has more to do with a lack of bare-bones beginner tutorials online. To that end, I have started a new Photoshop Beginner's Basics Series of video tutorials, and today I present to you tutorial number 2, covering filters, some more masking, selection tools, and more. All without blinding you with science that you don't need to worry about yet in your retouching journey towards Photoshop mastery.
If you missed Photoshop Beginner's Basics Tutorial #1, and are brand new as I said, be sure to watch it first.