Menu Close

Organization of a retoucher’s workspace

Might look decent at first glance, but this yellow lamp in the corner is no good for our work!

This matter is not something that usually gets much attention, but in fact, the organization of a retoucher's workspace is an important, even a vital part of any retouching process. It does matter what room you’re in, what monitor you have and if it has been calibrated or not. You probably noticed yourself that it’s hardly possible to work in a room filled with bright sunlight because the contrast of the image on your monitor gets reduced drastically. You should also be aware that your monitor doesn’t necessarily show you a proper image, that a monitor itself can alter images and make wrong impressions. You can think: “This image is too bright, I can’t see any details in white areas”, or “There are no details in the shadows”, but you can’t tell if it’s the images are bad or your monitor shows no details unless you know how to check by numbers. And this is a problem: as a retoucher you need to be sure that your images look decent on other people’s monitors, not just your own.

I’m a product image retouching expert, but my knowledge on monitor calibration, color spaces, and color management systems is limited. There are great sources of information on these subjects available online, and for free, you just need to google. And I assure you, this matter is important. A wrong picture on a faulty monitor can mislead retouchers and ruin all the work. You might struggle and still not get the result you want.

“My black and white images look as if they have a color tint. What do I do?”, “My friends say my images are too dark, but they look fine to me. What do I do?”, “My lovely images look awful after I post them on Facebook. What do I do?”. If you can’t answer why people get this kind of questions straight away, well, you're not alone. There are probably thousands of users that have the same questions, and there are probably millions of users that don't have any questions as well as even a basic understanding of what's going on.

What’s a color space? What’s the difference between ProPhoto RGB, Adobe RGB, and sRGB, which should I use? Should I include ICC profile when I save images? Does it matter which monitor I use and how do I choose one? How do I calibrate a monitor with a colorimeter, how does it even work? How often should I do it and is it worth to buy a colorimeter? Which colorimeter should I pick? My monitor is fine, but some random users complain about my images, what’s wrong with them? Is the room I work in important or can I just sit under a palm tree with a laptop? What’s the deal with gray stuff, can’t I just wear my favorite fuchsia shirt when I retouch?

If I start answering all these questions thoroughly, it will be too much information to fit in a course, which is actually dedicated to another matter, and I can’t afford to stray from product image retouching. But I’ll give you some basic statements which are true, so you’ll know where to dig. Trust me, being familiar with all this color management thing will solve so many problems that it’s absolutely worth spending time on. Now let’s get down to brass tacks:

Next: Brass tacks


On this website, we use first or third-party tools that store small files (cookies) on your device. Cookies are normally used to allow the site to run properly (technical cookies), to generate navigation usage reports (statistics cookies) and to suitable advertise our services/products (profiling cookies). We can directly use technical cookies, but you have the right to choose whether or not to enable statistical and profiling cookies. Enabling these cookies, you help us to offer you a better experience. If you choose to disable cookies, you won’t be able to watch the embedded videos. Cookie policy