Tuesday 5 July 2011

Graphic Artists Are Rubbish

Specifically, graphic artists at the SCMP are rubbish.

In a recent news article (see below), the SCMP proudly admitted to photoshopping a model's face. Apparently, the newspaper thought it did a wonderful job in touching up someone's face.

Here is the before and after work by "Post graphic artists":

Before and after: a model's face is touched up using Photoshop by Post graphics artists.
[SCMP caption]

Here are my humble comments.
1) To start, it should be apparent that the woman is not a real "model" since she is not at a beauty level that is expected of professional models. She appears to be just a normal person that most people would see walking in the streets of Hong Kong.

2) Her nose is a little too big and her teeth are not immaculate. Just sayin'.

3) The "before" shot (left side) actually looks better than the "after" shot. It is a more natural look.

4) The "after" shot (right) looks completely false. It also looks real scary, since the eyes appear spooky and uneven, the nose appears to be even more prominent than it normally is, and the overall face has a plasticky look and unhealthy sheen to it.

What are the Post graphic artists on?

Conclusion: South China Morning Post graphic artists are rubbish.

Reference: Selling a perfect image, sculpted by computers (SCMP; paywall)
Beauty salons and slimming centres are resorting to Photoshop to alter the look of the models. Does this practice approach misleading advertising?
Helene Franchineau
Jul 04, 2011

One arm raised, the back of her red skirt billowing to reveal a pair of long, slender legs, singer-actress Linda Chung Ka-yan is on billboards all over Hong Kong these days, promising a flat tummy, firm arms or a life without cellulite.

She is a vision of perfection as she advertises Slim Beauty, a spa and slimming centre. All is not as it seems, however. Before going on display, her image was doctored with that favourite tool of image-enhancers, Photoshop.

Slim Beauty admits it used Photoshop but will not say how.

And it is not alone among the spas and beauty salons that abound in image-conscious Hong Kong where such alterations are widely tolerated despite being frowned on elsewhere, drawing censure and sometimes hefty fines.

A spokesman for rival Oasis Beauty said of its advertisements with model Sarah C: "We enhanced her skin tone a bit." Such a touch-up can be done easily on a computer, as shown in the pictures here.

In Britain, that admission might have got the salon into trouble.

An advertisement featuring former model Twiggy for Procter & Gamble's Olay Definity Eye Illuminator cream was judged misleading by Britain's Advertising Standards Authority in December 2009 after the company did post-production work around her eyes.

Two years earlier, the authority condemned L'Oreal for an advertisement featuring the Spanish actress Penelope Cruz that claimed women could have up to 60 per cent longer eyelashes with its Telescopic mascara. But someone complained it looked fake, and fake it was. The authority ordered the French brand to add a disclaimer on future advertisements whenever models were wearing false lashes

In Sweden last year, L'Oreal was ordered to pay a fine of 1 million Swedish kroner (HK$1.24 million) for its claims for two anti-ageing creams, one of which was said to reduce wrinkles "as fast as a laser" and reduce their visibility by up to 70 per cent.

Despite the widespread use of such strategies in Hong Kong, its residents are becoming more sceptical.

A "Hong Kong Study on Advertising Credibility", published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing in 2009 said: "Doubts about the truthfulness of many advertisements have increased significantly in recent years."

Professor Gerard Prendergast, a co-author of the study and head of Baptist University's marketing department, said the four most misleading types of advertisement were those for weight-loss products, weight-loss services, hair regrowth products and cosmetics.

The Consumer Council recorded 469 complaints in 2008 and 514 in 2009 about beauty parlours' dubious practices. Commenting on the use of Photoshop, a council spokeswoman said: "I suppose what is at issue here is authenticity. If everybody used Photoshop, you'd have to have proof and evidence on how they applied it, as it can be used in enhancing the colours or making the picture sharper, not necessarily altering the shape or features of the model."

Professor Francis Chow Chun-chung, president of the Hong Kong Association for the Study of Obesity, said such advertisements were not aimed at medically obese people.

"It is all about marketing strategies and it is not evidence-based," Chow said. Some centres did not use a safe weight-loss method because they actually rid the client of water instead of fat.

The only way to lose weight in a healthy way, Chow said, was still to cut the energy intake and increase the energy expenditure. In short, eat healthy food and exercise more.

That is not necessarily what Hong Kong's busy, image-conscious people want to hear. "Exercising is not very popular for Hong Kong women," noted Liz Tan, a 28-year-old Australian who works in Hong Kong. "People seem to think that they can lose weight with a massage."



  1. aimlesswanderer7 July 2011 at 21:10

    Yes, Hongkies are just weird. Why do something useful when you can shop?

    Sadly many Asians have similar interesting 'ideas'. That my be why they are often pathetically weedy.

  2. If shopping became an Olympic event, Hongkies would be ... ?

  3. aimlesswanderer8 July 2011 at 19:26

    They'd probably be competing with South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan for gold.

  4. Thanks Anon. I would agree with AW, and think that HK would be gold medalists.

  5. aimlesswanderer10 July 2011 at 00:20

    Always good to be the best at something, even if it's totally useless!

  6. Hongkies would be banned for being professional shoppers!

  7. aimlesswanderer14 July 2011 at 20:59

    Hmm, well normally professionals are those who get paid to do something. I guess you could argue that many Hongkies work, get paid, and then use a large chunk of that to shop...

  8. Thanks Anon. I would agree with AW but Hongkies and increasingly those from mainland China do seem to be rather phenomenal at shopping.

    However, I have heard that there are "professional" shoppers who make a living from shopping (i.e. buying luxury goods) and then re-selling them at a profit.