These ads skewer phoshoppery by making it a product in itself
The heavy use of Photoshop in advertising is something we've discussed extensively on PopPhoto before, but these mock ads by art student Anna Hill do a particularly good job of showing just how extensively the editing can be used, by using the interesting trick of making Photoshop's retouching skills the subject of the ads themselves.
Hill is a student at East Carolina University, as well as someone already accomplished at Photoshop and photography. Talking to Gizmodo, she explained her motivation:
I think the main concept is something I'd noticed for a long time. The typical makeup ad or display in a store is a closeup on a girl's face, who has absolutely no pores and an artificial glossy finish, which made me think they may as well be advertising Photoshop. Makeup can do a lot, but it can't make you look like that....Honestly, I had a lot of fun Photoshopping myself. I thought of it as almost a super detailed character creation in a video game; the finished results weren't really me, just an idealized character on a screen. Flipping back to the unedited versions after working on them for so long was weird, and I did often think "ugh, I look bad in comparison." I think it was important to realize editing myself messed with even my own perception.
Hill posted the images on Reddit, where she also waded into the comments to explain a bit more about some of the shots. When asked about the split face image, and if any of it was done using makeup, she responded that "It's about 90% Photoshop. I did a little makeup on that side of my face beforehand but I used such an unflattering lightsource that you couldn't really tell other than lipstick/mascara."
As ever, the debate with Photoshop is how much is an acceptable amount of editing. Do you draw the line at what could theoretically be performed with real world hair and makeup? Or with what could have been done in a traditional darkroom? Or with whatever's in the art director's imagination? But these images do a lot to show just how high of a level of editing has become the norm when it comes to advertising, which is something we'd all do well to look a bit more closely at.