Photo retouching is the process of altering an image to prepare it for final presentation. Retouchers typically perform actions that are small localized adjustments to an image. Usually completed after globalized adjustments (such as color correction), retouching is the polishing of an image. Once the white balance, cropping and color profile has been created a retoucher will focus on adjusting other elements of an image.
In the case of a portrait, the retoucher might mask blemishes, smooth skin and whiten teeth. They may thin the face or enhance the eyes. They may also perform actions like changing hair color or enhance the body of the model. For product photography, a retoucher might repair a damaged box. They may remove fingerprints or smooth the surface of the product. Highlights could be added to a product to create depth. The types of edits made to an image depend on the desires of the client. Typically, an experienced retoucher will make adjustments to an image that is in keeping with the wishes of the client. Images need to fit the company’s branding.
Each action requires different tools found in a program like Photoshop. Retouchers will use tools like the healing brush, a variety of filters and also other tools like liquefy might be used to reshape an object or enhance a model. The possibilities within the realm of retouching depend on the desires of the client and the “look” they wish to achieve.
There are some programs that will retouch portraits without the use of Photoshop. Programs like Portrait Pro Studio will automatically perform many of the actions professionals use in Photoshop. When using these programs, it’s important to remember to tweak the automatic settings or there’s a danger of the model becoming very “plastic” looking. The program can be quite heavy handed. Unfortunately, this program does not work for product photographs on images involving models.
In the case of product photos, there are many retouching enhancements that can be done to make photos look more attractive to potential customers. It’s important to have in mind that there are different levels of retouching. A basic retouching job may include enhancements such as “erasing” scratches or traces of glue. More complex retouching may include work such as enhancing stones in jewelry, giving definition to diamonds, making gold or silver shine, giving texture to leather, removing glare, and more.
To get a better idea of the look our clients are trying to achieve, we recommend sending a sample image to use as a guide. The image can easily be downloaded with our website uploader or your DropBox account. Just create a profile here and upload your photos in the next screen to get a custom quote.