Menu Close

Retouching basics

Catalogue retouching is a process that is mistakenly considered to be creative but is in fact very strict and technical. There’s very little creativity in the e-commerce retouching industry, as there’s no place for artistic filters, color effects, flaming letters, stars and butterflies and any other things that novice retouchers love to apply to their images to give them a special look. And this is exactly what I love about the process. When we edit images in bulks, we need to make sure they all are consistent with each other no matter how many people were involved in the process of making them. Right after the color correction stage, it’s time to work with all the impurities and the imperfections on the images to make them look nice and attractive to customers, but still resemble the goods we’re trying to sell with their help. And there’s a simple rule to follow: everything that should be there (the product itself) is improved, and the rest (which is not a part of the product) is removed.

Retouching for the catalogues is supposed to be fast and efficient

In the following chapter, I'll give you an overview of the tools and algorithms that are used in catalogue retouching most often. You might feel like you don't need it if you're a skilled retoucher already. If that's the case, you might want to skip the whole chapter – better save some time than read about how a healing brush works and things like that, right? Well, not really.

The idea that sometimes comes to us as we gain skill, that “I know it all already, I'll just skip it” is actually quite harmful, because the moment you indulge to this idea, you rob yourself of knowledge. You never know where an opportunity to learn something new might arise. Everyone knows how to use the Clone Stamp, but not everyone uses the rotating feature to their advantage. Everyone uses the Liquify filter, but not everyone ticks a checkbox and never drags any edges in. How about applying the Dust & Scratches filter effect with a brush without creating any layers? How about using tools in different blending modes on a regular basis? You never know where you'll learn something valuable, so I honestly encourage you not to skip any chapters in this course. But the decision is up to you, that's for sure.

I remember myself watching free videos on Youtube and exclaiming: "Wow! So if you set the Spacing of the brush to 0%, it will be really smooth!" or "Wow! So the Warp Tool actually has presets!". I'm not ashamed of not being aware of such basic Photoshop features (there are too many of them to be aware of everything), but it would have been a shame if I skipped the videos as too lame and basic instead of watching them.

We will be dealing with textures a lot – retouching is all about preserving texture and not messing it up, so I have a warning for you. As I said before and I will repeat it again and again, you can only see the texture for real in Photoshop when you scale the image to 100%. If it's not 100%, you see an interpolated preview that has nothing to do with the real thing. The same is true about the video. I've recorded all the videos for this course using two screens, and any video you can watch here is either 1920 by 1048 or 1920 by 1160 (screen minus taskbar). You won't see what I saw on my screen because of all the information loss due to video compression. And you will see even less if you scale the videos when you watch them, so remember, 100% scale is also important. Otherwise, you might just not see the images shown in the videos properly. But some of the images will be available for download, so you'll be able to twiddle with them in Photoshop and see the real thing.

When I watched my own videos it became evident that there was indeed a problem with textures because of all the information loss. Noise is almost invisible, so when I say something like: "Now we'll add some noise, like 0.6", you probably won't be able to see the difference at all. This is inevitable, but all you have to do is just experiment on the images by yourself and see how the Noise filter affects them depending on the percentage you choose.

Just remember – what you see in the videos is not the real thing. Be mindful of that.

Next: Transformation tools


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