autoRetouch explained: Core Concepts

For over 20 years, the Fashion World has been solely reliant on manual product image editing to polish images for online catalogs – and for a good reason.

Manual image editing has, indeed, produced amazing results by giving a vivid visual representation of fashion items in the digital world, and, no doubt, is a key to the success of the multi-billion dollar fashion industry. However, it is, unfortunately, one of the most expensive and highly inefficient parts of the product supply chain. Why?

Manually editing thousands of Fashion product images that online catalogs need every year – including necessary and highly repetitive steps, such as background removal, skin retouch, and adding drop shadows, among others – consumes a great deal of time and resources. It takes five minutes, on average, to edit one fashion product image.

Shifting to a new paradigm

autoRetouch, the first end-to-end, automated image processing platform, revolutionizes the bulk-processing of Fashion product images. With it, a paradigm shift from manual image editing to automated image processing is finally possible.

The system leverages two key technologies: (1) computer vision (a subset of artificial intelligence) and the scalable processing power of (2) cloud infrastructure.

Combined, these technologies power and enable autoRetouch to dramatically reduce processing time to just a few minutes for a batch of 100 images, and ensure quality and consistency across large volumes of images.

How to use autoRetouch?

Our product is built for automated, bulk-processing of fashion product images via workflows. Hence, our machine learning models have been trained and currently perform well on fashion product images, particularly, in the broad apparel/clothing category.

What is a workflow?

autoRetouch’s bulk-processing capabilities are based on the concept of processing images via workflows that you create and define in our workflow builder interface. 

In autoRetouch, a workflow is a chain of components that defines a sequence of automated actions for our system to perform.

What are components?

A component is an active ingredient in a workflow.

Fully automated, it stands in for the manual editing steps in a photo editing tool. With that said, the components we have currently available should help address all your basic Fashion product image processing needs, including:

Remove background removes the background (e.g. from a photo studio) on any number of similar Fashion product images. It can also be used to process mannequin product photographs (alongside a photo-editing-tool) in order to achieve the ghost mannequin effect faster than ever.

Set on Canvas lets you define a master canvas for your Fashion product images, where you can specify exactly how you want a human model with clothing or just a Fashion product to be placed, the canvas dimensions, and add a new background color.

Extract Patch will intelligently select a representative patch of a Fashion product. These patches are typically used to indicate color variations, or patterns, of a particular base product.

Add Shadows allows you to place a non-invasive shadow under a human model’s shoes, or feet. This component is mainly intended to avoid the visual impression that a human model is floating in free space after removing the images’ original background and placing it on a newly defined master canvas.

Skin Retouch gives you two options (mole removal and airbrushing) that are only applied to the skin of a human model as part of a Fashion product image. 

Color Palette allows you to determine the dominant colors in a Fashion product image. The component does not manipulate the image in any way. It’s meant to help identify useful metadata within an image. It’s special also in the sense that this component was not created by the autoRetouch team directly but instead has been published on the platform via our Developer Program.

Export is used to define the file type (JPEG, PNG, or PSD) of the processed Fashion product images that will be made available to you for download after a workflow is run. While defining any workflow, make sure you have the Export component in the last position of the component chain.

Note: In the next weeks, we will be publishing dedicated posts about each of the components to introduce them to you in more detail.

How do I create and run a workflow?

  1. Create an autoRetouch account by signing up here.
  2. Configure a workflow by chaining up the relevant components according to the type of edits a particular batch of images requires.

Common workflows for Fashion product images are for example: 

  1. Ghost mannequin workflow
  2. Human model, with skin retouch and drop shadows workflow
  3. Extracting a representative patch of pattern/fabric workflow

While initially defining your workflow, it’s important to upload a sample image to get a preview of your output (as shown in the video) and see if it matches with your desired output result. Previewing an output is not being charged against your credit balance. Therefore, please be advised to run your workflow only when you have a good sense that the output finally meets the editing style your images need.

  1. Run your workflow. In the ‘Run Workflow’ section, the workflow you created can be used to process as many as 100 images at once. The editing process will execute automatically for every image uploaded. Here €0,10 will be charged against your existing credit balance automatically each time you upload an image, regardless of whether you download the processed image/s or not.
  1. Download processed images when ready.
  1. Refine processed images in a photo editing tool, if necessary. In order to facilitate the integration of autoRetouch into your image editing process, we’ve recently added support for exporting PSD files, as part of our Export component.

Credit Balance

autoRetouch uses a credit system as fuel for our workflows. Using workflows in order to process images, therefore requires you to have a credit balance that covers the number of images you want to process.

In case your credit balance is zero or doesn’t cover the number of images you intend to process, you are no longer able to run workflows until you top-up your credit balance.

Top-ups can be done very easily by using Paypal, or a credit card directly from within the credit balance interface in autoRetouch. Simply click the credit balance icon on the top right corner when logged int, choose the amount you want to top-up, enter your payment details and that’s it.

The Takeaway

Anyone that’s involved in the product image editing supply chain for Fashion product images – from the initial photo shoot to what consumers see in an online fashion store – can benefit by making the switch from manual image editing to automated image processing using autoRetouch.

Finally, there’s a service that shifts the burden of highly repetitive image editing work from you onto an automated service, at scale, all while you keep creative control about the final image wholly in your hands. Our software enables you to cut costs, save time, and speed up your process while ensuring consistency in your output.

Ready for a paradigm shift? Simply sign up via the link below and try autoRetouch for free.