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Photo Retouching Instructions

| May 9, 2013 | 3 Comments
Photo retouching instructions

Simple example of some necessary photo retouching instructions.


In this article I will talk about working with photo retouchers. In some cases you will have someone in your team that’s a Photoshop expert but most cases you will outsource this kind of jobs. If you are working in beauty and fashion magazine you will spend much time working on model images which need correction before going to print.

Quality retouching is a must and you should find a person which work is outstanding since you will be working a lot with this person.

Today almost every image is retouched and this work requires skill. I have seen so many times horribly retouched images. Images where the retouched person is totally altered so that not only her looks is changed but the perception of that person is changed.
Times of plastic surgery retouching are behind us.

Although still today we can see images of people in which we can see for sure that is not their natural look, and natural look is what we want to accomplish. Yes, we will remove few wrinkles, brighten the teeth, add some hair, color correct the skin but those are just few inevitable tasks that you should ask your retouched to do.


Assessing the images

After you gather all the necessary images from the photographer you should choose several good ones that you will use in your magazine. If you are working on a fashion or beauty editorial, you will choose those images with your beauty or fashion editor. He will see the imperfections in clothes or make up that need correction.

After you have chosen several images you should start creating a list of tasks that need to be done on those images. Everything that you want corrected, you should note down so that you can give precise instructions to our retoucher.


Photo retouching instructions list

Make a list and send it along with the files. Your list should be something like this:

Overall correction:

  • Smoothing the skin texture, removing some bumps and major wrinkles.
  • If the wrinkles are large you should not remove them totally but you should smooth them down.
  • Even out the color, remove blemishes and blend uneven make up.
  • Remove unwanted shine, burned spots and other imperfections that appeared during the photo shoot.

Body parts:

  • Smooth the skin on legs and arms.
  • Improve contours, highlights and shadows


  • Whiten the teeth a bit but do not over do it.
  • Correct crocked teeth.


  • Remove extensive shine from the hair.
  • Fill in the gaps in the hair.
  • Remove stray hairs if any.
  • Fix color if necessary


  • Check and correct the shape of eyebrows
  • Remove stray hairs


  • Brighten the eye whites, but do not over do it, we don’t want our model to look like a vampire.
  • Check make up and correct if necessary.
  • Soften under eye circles.
  • Remove catch lights from the pupils.


  • Check the shape of the lips, define them and slightly reshape if necessary.
  • Correct the lipstick if necessary.
  • Clean and even the highlights.


  • Smooth the smile wrinkles.
  • Correct the blush on the apple of the cheek.


  • Even out unwanted shadows on the sides of the nose.


This may seem like much work but it is not, these are standard corrections that almost every image needs correcting. These corrections should not affect the overall appearance of the person in the image, and that is our main goal. You should decide what is necessary to correct and what is not so that your final image is believable.

If you are working on a fashion model, you should also check the form of the clothes and make notes that will instruct the retoucher what to do with the clothes. Many times there will be wrinkles in the clothes that needs to be removed.

This is your part of the job and the rest is on retoucher which will know what to do. Since they first copy background layer so that it is not affected, you can adjust the corrected layers and masks on your own if you need more corrections or if you want those corrections toned down.

If you are Photoshop savvy this will speed up the work so that you don’t need to constantly be in contact with your retoucher.

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Category: Production

Comments (3)

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  1. damin says:

    the got say about this photo retouching

  2. Dolant Jack says:

    This photo retouching idea is great, I have more benefited from here

  3. Hello Nikola, thanks for this wonderful post. When I was starting to work with a couple of retouchers, there’s one thing that lacked even with the most skilled ones… its the process itself. Jumping around from certain areas is prone to missing some of the parts that need retouching. Good thing we’ve fixed that now.

    I believe this is exactly what needs to be pointed out to other retouchers. Good work!

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