Over-retouching is the most common mistake, and the art of retouching is to make it seem perfect but natural. It’s the many small things that come together to make an image great. It’s not necessarily the big dramatic move that makes perfection. Make a retouching plan on a separate blank layer, and stick to it. Retouching on a duplicate layer lets you turn it off to view the original below. Of course, it also gives you a safety net.
Work editably and give yourself a safety-net in every situa- tion. Use Snapshots, Layers, History Brush and use Layer-Masks instead of Eraser. If you have many small layers that together form a compositional element (e.g. an eye or a building) con- sider joining them together in a Group. A Layer Group can also be masked off, so that you’re in effect masking off several lay- ers together. It’s easy to generate too many Layers, and to lose track of them. It also helps to name the Layers. Whatever you do, always bear in mind that each element should be reversible without too much trouble.
Even if you work with Layers, the History Brush can provide an additional safety net when embarking on some tricky work with the Clone Stamp tool and Healing Brush. Mark the His- tory Source box of the present history state before you start cloning, and use the History Brush tool to reverse it exactly where it went wrong, or to reduce its effect in areas. Snap- shots are a good way of marking the progression of a retouch- ing task, and can be referred to as History Sources. Click on the Snapshot button in the History Palette at every significant stage in the process (but don’t go completely wild, as it takes up memory). When using the History Brush, you have to make sure you’re on the right layer – a layer that existed when you took the Snapshot you’re borrowing from. The History Brush won’t work if the Layer or image has been transformed or resized.