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Quality control

Quality control is an important part of the retouching process. Criteria may vary, of course. Catalogue retouching should be cost-efficient, and it means that most of the time the images will be retouched in a fast manner and products will not look as perfect and flawless as they usually appear in magazines and ads. The deal is that magazine prints require a lot of time, effort and money. Catalogue images are not worth this kind of production, and in a typical situation, one retoucher should be able to process many images, usually not less than one hundred images per day. Sometimes it’s less if it’s jewelry or something like this, very tricky to retouch, but it can be more, and much more. I’ve created workflows in which retouchers were able to do up to 700 images per day without resorting to batch-retouching. If the shooting process is maintained well, it’s not a big deal.

When we come to the stage of quality control, which means checking if the images are good enough to be uploaded on the website, you should understand very well, that these mass-produced images are not going to look perfect and flawless, and it’s okay.

A magazine print will be on the pages forever. But the product images will be removed as soon as the store manages to sell the respective products. The quantity counts: if you have a huge stock and you’re going to sell the same stuff for a long time, it’s reasonable to invest in quality. If you have just a few items of the same kind, but a huge variety of items, quality is not that important.

Price also matters. Luxurious brands tend to have higher demands than mass-market, as they usually sell less, and their items are more expensive. So, here’s the deal: the images can look great, be done fast, be cheap. Pick any two of the three but you can’t have all three at the same time.

Quality control can also be different, as the quality standards vary from store to store. But there are some basic demands, too, and in this chapter, I will be explaining the most typical standards that apply to the whole industry, as well as some specific demands you might face when working as a product image retoucher.

Technical requirements

The images should meet the technical requirements such as:

  • Image type (jpeg, png, etc)
  • Image size (in pixels)
  • Resolution (which is not very important as we work for the web, but should be specified and maintained nonetheless)
  • RGB profiling (if the image should have the RGB profile embedded and which exactly, usually sRGB)
  • File size (sometimes maximum size in kB, sometimes jpeg compression is specified from 1 (worst quality) to 12 (best quality) or from 1 to 100%)
  • Naming (if the file names should be changed according to the SKUs or left unaltered if named already)
  • Image order (as with the naming, can sometimes be retouchers responsibility and should be maintained)

If a particular alignment is specified, the images should be aligned correctly and fit into margins. The products should be touching the margins but not sticking out of them or falling behind. There are some exceptions, though, when some parts of the products can and should be sticking out of the margins when it makes sense.

Like this jacket here – these long laces hanging far below the bottom of the jacket are not supposed to fit within the margins even if there are margins. Thin laces like these are usually cut to make the jacket larger in the frame.

Next: A list of typical demands


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