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Course Requirements

To be able to study through this e-commerce retouching course and use all the given information efficiently, you have to be a competent Photoshop user. If you've never worked with a graphics editor before, this course is not for you, unless you are willing to google every second word that I use. You don't have to be a true professional either. If you know your way around menus, if you're at least familiar with the basic tools, you can do it. A couple of months of experience in an online store would be great – you'll be able to understand everything more easily than if you've never dealt with product images.

As this is an offline course and it's not interactive, you'll be able to pause and take your time and study Photoshop more if you get any information that you can't really understand well. Feel free to do any additional research if you don't feel confident enough. I did this course for intermediate users intentionally, because you can find tons of free information online that will let you become a basic and an intermediate user. You don't have to pay for that, you can just google that. All the basic Photoshop functions are thoroughly explained by many people. The tricky part is becoming an advanced user – but this is why you're here.

Course outline and structure

This is not a video course. Video courses are easy and fun to watch, but they are hard to navigate and forgettable. My course consists of text, images, and video lessons. You will be able to find information easily when you search.

The first part is mostly theory: we'll talk about studios in online stores, about photography, and how catalogue images should look before you get to retouch them. Then we'll switch to your working space, how you should organize it. Mouse or tablet, PC or Mac, monitor settings, things like that. After a thorough explanation of color correction for the web, I'll briefly explain the principles of automation. We'll talk about actions and scripts, why and how they should be used. Then I'll help you to set Photoshop up so that it's more suitable for e-commerce catalogue retouching. After that, we can start practicing.

Isolation is one of the first things you'll have to learn about. You will get information about all the necessary tools and techniques and get familiar with different kinds of isolation as well: total white, natural shadow, artificial shadow, reflection, transparency, even chromakey. You will learn not just how to isolate, but also how to check if you did it correctly. Then we'll talk about retouching basics and I'll list and explain all the tools and techniques you'll have to master.

When that's done, we'll do all sorts of retouching: models, mannequins, flat lays, all kinds of objects, and background retouching as well. With that done, we'll discuss moire removal and how to deal with black and white items, that are tricky to color correct. I'll explain how to retouch specific materials like velvet or suede. A separate chapter is dedicated to quality control: I'll list all the typical online store demands for images and I will also teach you how to check your own images in a fast and efficient manner. There's also another chapter where you'll learn how to change the color of items, even from black to white and vice versa in case you need it.

We'll discuss image alignment, which is a very important subject. You'll learn that you can automatically resize and align all kinds of images and place them within specific margins without any manual stretching and transforming. I'll also give you a lot of information on sharpening images, saving them in a smart way by using scripts, batching them to specific file size or quality.

And finally, you can access the store loaded with actions and scripts. The most avid learners will be able to make their own actions and scripts, and those who want to get the automation straight away can buy them from the shop (LINK). With all that and some practice, you'll be able to become a truly professional product photo editor, able to get a job in the best online stores. This is my goal, this is why I made this course.

Catalogue retouching. E-commerce. Product images

Ahh, sweet semantics. It's easy when you google beauty retouching, because everyone knows what that is and how it's supposed to look. But catalogue retouching? Not so easy. There's no such thing as a proper name for what we do.

Some people call it e-commerce retouching, but that's too wide a term. Lookbooks and ads are e-commerce as well, and you don't do that for a couple of dollars. Product image retouching is another term that is commonly used, but that's too narrow. When people say "products" they mean objects – like shoes, bags, other stuff. But what about models?

If I had to choose one term, I would prefer "catalogue retouching", yeah, "catalogue", not catalog – this is some kind of a well-established term. I like it because when we say catalog we mean there's a lot of images that are watched by customers – that's why catalogs exist, to give people an opportunity to choose something they want from a variety of items.

But for the sake of people who google, I'll be using a variety of terms like "catalogue retouching", "product photo editing", "product image retouching" and so on. And don't forget we're dealing with online catalogs, which are completely different from the printed ones.

Product image retouching is supposed to present products to customers, achieving two goals: showing products in detail and making them attractive. The ultimate goal is creating a positive attitude towards a brand or a particular online store, as well as selling products. A professional retoucher is able to find the perfect balance between enhancing images and making them unreasonably attractive.

By unreasonable attractiveness, I mean cheating customers – so that when they receive the goods, they get really disappointed, as they expected something completely different. For example, if you sell used goods, you don’t retouch them in such a way that they look brand new. By doing so you risk ruining the customers’ impression not just of their purchase, but of the seller (or the brand, or the store) as well.

There’s no such thing as a single approach when we talk about product image retouching. It all depends on the view of a particular business owner or an art director or any other person responsible for the final look of the images. Some people say that products have to be beautiful and devoid of any imperfections. Some vote for the natural look and try to stay away from over-retouching, as it makes products weird and the real goods might disappoint customers. Others balance between creating beauty and preserving natural shapes and textures of products at the same time. But no matter how refined the final result is, retouching is a necessary step in any e-commerce production. It is a final stage that occurs right before the images get uploaded to a website, and prior to this, they have to be up to some standards.

There are, of course, some other goals that we are pursuing. The most important goal is to transfer products to customers via computer or mobile screens. We try to make customers see products on their screens as if they saw them in a real store, giving them a possibility to perceive color, shape, and texture as close to the real thing as possible. So how do we do that and where do we start?

Next: Photo shoots in online stores


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