Amy Dresser is one of the most popular retouchers for today with a unique style and trendsetting methods. Thanks to her extraordinary approach to work with digital photos, not only professionals but also enthusiasts know about her.
Keep on reading to learn about Amy’s favorite genres and understand why she worked for a host of A-list clients from photographer Jill Greenberg to Playboy to Barbie.
For the last 11 years, Amy has been working in LA. She has a good reputation in the retouching world because she can do wonders to images.
Amy Dresser is a freelance illustrator focusing on people, portraits and skin. She has been in the business since 2002 and worked on key art for Harry Potter; album artwork for Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani and “Weird Al” Yankovic; as well as campaigns for Pepsi, Sony, Target, PUMA, Nestlé, Converse, and Taco Bell.
Her works appeared in such popular print media as Time, Entertainment Weekly, Maxim, and New York Times Magazine. What is more, she improved portraits of Tom Cruise, Katy Perry, Snoop Dogg, Hilary Swank, Jennifer Connelly, Jessica Simpson, Usain Bolt, and Leonardo DiCaprio.
In 1998 Amy Dresser graduated from Hofstra University with a B.S. in Fine Arts. She specialized in figurative and portrait painting. In 1999 Amy received a Post-Baccalaureate in Painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Then, she worked as an illustrator and finally, in 2000, Jill Greenberg employed her as a full-time retoucher.
Amy Dresser shares her knowledge by giving lectures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, several universities and art colleges, and participating in Luminance Talks. Besides, she conducted various online and live seminars including a traveling workshop series in Australia.
For now, Amy Dresser lives in LA. She works not only with her clients but also as a part of RetouchersLab.
Working in different genres, Amy Dresser follows simple rules. She removes distracting objects from the frame, pulls the channels up and down to see if the things will look more appealing with various color directions. Amy tries to achieve commercial perfection with expressionism touches. Thus, her portfolio includes not only portrait photos but also complex compositional experiments.
For commercial purposes, she often uses advanced compositions combining vector and raster graphics. But her works look simply and are easily recognized by viewers. Here are some genres she excels at.
Amy Dresser became popular thanks to her unique approach to improving portraits. She skillfully improves each portrait so that it looks like “retouching without retouching”. She often says that a trick is not to use a trick. Amy removes a minimum amount of a photo. Even if it is required by the brief, the retoucher avoids taking everything out and tries to reapply a skin texture.
Even if it is high-end retouching for a popular brand, the working process starts with going over a photo quickly to detect things like dust or acne. Then, the retoucher proceeds with basic color adjustments and makes small changes without involving advanced and non-realistic manipulations. Photographs look natural and eye-pleasing.
Advertising is another genre Amy likes. The complexity here lies in the fact that pictures should be maximally simple but at the same time creative. Amy says it’s amusing when you try to make artificial things look realistic and vise versa.
Thanks to her previous illustrator experience, Amy’s works combine a creative approach, another way of looking at things and a minimum amount of manipulations when cleaning a photo. Thus, her technique is suitable for expert retouchers and amateurish Photoshop users.
In general, it is a highlight carving rig where you use two curves to do lights and darks and then a gray card to remove the difference. It takes much time to polish off the difference. For example, you may spend around 50 hours doing so, while standard portrait retouching requires approximately 2 hours.
Amy Dresser is also known for her special “Amy Dresser Technique”. Editorial photography is a separate part of her portfolio. Speaking about popular publications, they have a long list of rigors to the materials.
When Amy performs skin retouching, she doesn’t try to create an ideal picture. Her aim is to keep the character and remove the things that may distract viewers.
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Amy Dresser’s tutorials are available on the RetouchPRO channel. There, in a live mode, Amy gets into the details of some of her Photoshop portrait tutorials. She takes several pics and shows each individual layer on the screen. Thus, you can get valuable experience from a famous retoucher.
On the official website, you can buy Amy Dresser Photoshop Retouching Workflow Action Set for $25. All you have to do is to open your image in Photoshop and let the tools do their job. It’s a straightforward approach that allows you to skip repetitive set-up work and use the frequency separation technique.
In her work, Amy Dresser doesn’t use any special hardware. She has a 6×8-inch Wacom tablet. However, in one interview, Amy said she also uses a CRT monitor.
Speaking about the software Amy uses, we should mention Adobe Photoshop CS4 with no photo retouching plug-ins. She mostly utilizes Dodge and Burn Tool. Thus, Amy Dresser spends 80% of her time dodging and burning. She also uses curves for color adjustments.