I spent the last eight years of my life studying, managing and developing retouching processes for e-commerce. Retouching for online catalogues might seem simple enough, but it's a very complex and tricky process when you get into it. And what makes it extremely tricky is the lack of information online: there are almost no tutorials, and existing articles are often outdated and misleading. It's funny because if you want to learn how to retouch beauty or fashion, there are thousands of websites, video courses, articles, Youtube tutorials, even books – everything is readily available for the avid learners. But catalogue retouching? Almost nothing.
I've always wondered where all the e-commerce retouching professionals were and why they didn't share anything on the web. There are thousands of online stores all over the world, there are millions of images uploaded daily and there are armies of product image retouchers sitting somewhere and producing all those images. But try to google typical e-commerce features like "background removal" or "invisible mannequin", and you'll see what I mean. Tutorials are scarce, and it seems that the whole process described in them is tedious and it takes quite some time to retouch a single image. If you have to spend 10-20 minutes on every item, how are you supposed to retouch hundreds of images every day? Is that even possible to make more than, let's say 50?
It is. When the process is well organized and maintained, you can make hundreds of images. I was able to make an average retoucher on my team produce from 200 images for a luxurious online-store that demanded absolute quality to 500 images for a huge online store that aimed for high speed and average quality. It's not a big deal. The secret is in the automation of all the things that are done to every image and, at the same time, are not done in the freehand mode. Photoshop offers exciting opportunities for automation – you can use actions, which are basically recorded sequences of commands, and scripts, where you can use programming to achieve exactly what you want. By automating boring repeated processes we manage to save lots of time, but it's not just that. A well-organized retouching process involves all things to be in order – monitor settings, Photoshop settings, preferences and panels, tools settings: everything matters, everything is important. Skill is important, too. You can't make hundreds of images if you're new to the industry, but that's something that can be achieved with time.
The most well-kept secrets of my trade are now freely available to the public. And if you're reading this, there's a huge probability that we're a part of the same team. And I thank you for all the time and effort – I very well know how hard it is to study and learn, and not just trust everything others tell you, but always doubt and double check.
The cat is out of the bag now. The website has been launched. And wow – someone, you, is reading the Afterword. And the last words: I wish you luck and great success in all your endeavors.
(c) Anastasia Erokhina. 01.2018 – 06.2019