Airbrush image enhancement is done with a hand-held compressor-run airgun that squirts paint of varying concentration (according to need) over the offending areas. "Since airbrushing is done on the original artwork, if you accidentally pare down too much of Miss February's right aureole with your airgun, you need to start over again on a fresh copy of the photo," says Lee, a Los Angeles-based photo retouching expert. "Though it's difficult to master, airbrushing was for a long time the industry standard for removing those human flaws that may not have been successfully obscured in the make-up chair: wrinkles, moles, bruises, veins, tattoos, pimples, tracks, scaly skin, cellulite, razor stubble, stray pubic hair, enlarged pores and undereye circles. And vulva sheen.

For some reason, the preferred photographic presentation for woman's genitals in the "classier" men's magazines is to show them spread but not shiny—making the model appear accessible, though not authentically aroused. The first step to achieving this is to powder the pubis, then photograph it using a soft-focus diffusion filter. Later, via retouching, any remaining sheen can be taken off the image, lest the genital glare distract the porno purveyors from their onanistic pursuits. Penthouse magazine seems to be the champion of this matte muff look, softening their close-ups of tender bits to a Muppet-like fuzziness. The only glossy parts in sight are the model's hair, her lipstick and the paper on which the photo is printed. (Lower down in the girly-mag food chain, where a wet-and-ready esthetic rules, the area in question is splayed, and sprayed with glycerin to maximize the eager-beaver effect.)

Like virtually every other aspect of publishing in the last ten years, pin-up touch-ups have gone digital. Whereas before shiny unmentionables had to be airbrushed (and in some cases, hand tinted) into oblivion like the rest of the undesirable bodily elements, now they can be removed by computer. Through the magic of software like Photoshop, images can be scanned into the computer and altered to specification. The aforementioned no-nos—wrinkles, moles, bruises, veins, tattoos, pimples, tracks, scaly skin, cellulite, stray pubic hair and enlarged pores—can be removed by cloning, a digital version of the old cut-and-paste technique. Cloning samples a section of "good" skin on the scanned image and places it over the unattractive part. Dark circles can be omitted with a transparent brush tool to lighten up the undereye area. As for gleaming beavers, the shiny highlights can be filled in with color or cloned out with Photoshop's opaque airbrush tool. Razor stubble "presents a particular challenge," says retoucher Lee, "because each individual hair needs to be cloned out. You can't just clone the entire pubic area at once because it's unlikely you could find a big enough patch to clone in that didn't have shadows and patterns in it. And those shadows and patterns are a dead give-away that the photo has been doctored."

While digital retouching can be tedious work (Lee once spent three hours cloning out the cellulite from a famous movie actresses thighs), it is a marked improvement over the old techniques. Lee asserts, "I can completely change a photo: take out all the model's wrinkles, extend her lashes, pick off her stray pubic hair, enlarge her breasts or make her waist smaller. And I can easily fix my mistakes."

A production assistant at one of the more explicit men's magazines agrees, "You just scan in the image, rework it in the computer as much as you want, then output to film, digital color print, or poster output." And voilá, a porno star is born.    </end>

Morph by Morgan
(in the style of Wolverton and Mucha.)

LILY BURANA is the former editor of Taste of Latex and Future Sex Magazines. She's gone freelance and writes for New York, Mademoiselle, and Virtual City. Check out her page at :

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