10 Skin Retouching Tips You Need to Know

“Less is more.” It’s one of the cardinal rules of skin retouching—and failing to follow it can leave you with models that look cartoonish, fake, and exaggerated. In order to preserve the natural beauty of your models and the credibility of your photos, you’ll need to master the art of subtle, yet effective, post-production techniques.

In this blog, we’ll explore how you can master retouching skin for product photography, media creation, and graphic design, with tips straight from the experts.

10 Essential Tips for Skin Retouching

Before you dive into Photoshop, make sure you’re prepared with the following tips, which will help you make the best of your time and come out with gorgeous, professional photos.

1.    Remove minor skin imperfections

Stray hairs covering your model’s face, acne scars, wrinkles, dark under-eye shadows, minor blemishes—models are only human, so you’re likely to need to contend with all of the above and more. Removing these small imperfections eliminates distractions from your photos, which will help keep viewers focused on your model and/or products. This is easy to do with AI airbrushing tools, but be careful not to go too far—you don’t want to erase your model’s individuality. Be sure to keep their distinctive features like moles, dimples, and beauty spots. 

2.    Avoid painting over blemishes

When using the airbrush or spot healing tool, don’t be tempted to paint over blemishes. The smoothed area will have a different texture than the rest of your model’s skin, making it look incongruous and unrealistic. Remember: skin retouching is done to make photos more attractive, but viewers won’t appreciate it if they come out looking fake.

3.    Go easy on frequency separation

The frequency separation technique can be used to fix skin tone in Photoshop. You can easily make your model’s complexion clearer and reduce the appearance of oil for a spotless finish with this feature. Unfortunately, photos edited with this technique may look so flawless that they take on a plastic appearance, particularly when applied over a large area. Use caution when applying this tool. As an alternative, we recommend using skin retouching software that edits skin based on color, ethnicity, age, and body part to preserve natural skin texture.

4.    Avoid oversaturation with warm tones

Many retouching tools will oversaturate your photos with red or yellow tones, which can lead to your models looking unnatural and distorting their real skin color. Be sure to correct skin tone before finishing your photos. 

5.    Don’t over-edit the under-eye area

Editing eyes is a challenge for any editor because it can easily take the character out of a photo. Adjusting the skin color around the eyes should be done with a light hand. We do suggest subtle editing in those areas to eliminate undesirable bags, lines, or makeup creases, which will help make the eyes expressive and lively. However, don’t go overboard. All you need to do is make the model’s skin appear natural and healthy.

6.    Keep the effects on the eyes/iris at a minimum

Do you want your model to look like a doll—or a vampire? If so, feel free to skip this tip and saturate their eye color as much as you want. But if you want them to look human, be aware that vivid, colorful eyes will look unnatural and can be quite jarring to viewers. You should know how to retouch eyes, including saturation if necessary to bring out the colors, but keep it minimal unless you want them to look like extras in a sci-fi show. 

7.   Don’t eliminate all shadows and highlights

It can be very tempting to smooth out every little shadow and highlight from your photos—especially when they look distracting or unflattering—but that’s a temptation you may want to resist. Why? Because humans are 3D objects! Removing shadows can make your models look flat and two-dimensional, which will look very strange to viewers. This is why experts recommend perfecting the shadow and highlighting settings on your camera before the shots are taken. Otherwise, correcting them in post-production can be a real challenge.

8.   Don’t forget to add volume

This hack is all you need to generate natural and radiant skin. The add volume effect can reduce skin pores, emphasize the features of specific areas, and more. However, as with all these tips, use caution: too much use of this tool will lead to unflattering spots on the skin.

9.   Change the background color

That may sound odd—what does the backdrop have to do with the skin? Well, it’s like choosing an outfit that looks great on your model. Choosing the right backdrop color can enhance and beautify your model, bringing out the natural color of their skin. We suggest experimenting to find the colors that are most flattering to your models. Also, did you know that automated retouching software can swap out and customize backdrop colors in seconds?

10.   Let AI do the work for you

We’ve mentioned a few ways that AI retouching tools can help you speed up or simplify the retouching process. Obviously, the human touch is the gold standard for photo editing, but in many cases, AI tools can produce similar results in a fraction of the time. If you’re on a tight budget or need a quick turnaround, or if you simply want to take some of the arduous, repetitive work out of your editing process, don’t stress about not being able to do the work yourself! Keep a tool like autoRetouch in your back pocket and see what’s possible with the power of AI. 

Bottom Line

If you take away one lesson from this post, it’s—you guessed it—that you should always start with a light, natural approach to retouching skin. Remember, you’re not here to change how your model looks! You’re here to smooth away small, distracting imperfections, correct the lighting and tone of the photos to flatter their natural beauty and make it look like they were never retouched at all. With these tips on skin retouching, you’re well on your way to producing stunning photos. And if you need a helping hand to bring out the best in your model photos, remember that there are AI-powered tools like autoRetouch that can do the work in seconds.

How to Take Fantastic Product Images

How to Take Good Product Images?

The human brain processes visuals in 13 milliseconds. In business terms, that’s not a lot of time to impress your customers. Product photos can make or break a business, and are one of the most important marketing investments you can make—but the costs of professional photography can be prohibitive to a small business owner. Fortunately, with a little time and effort, it’s possible to do it yourself.

Don’t count yourself out if you don’t have a fancy camera. Creating high-quality product images can be done with very low upfront costs and minimal equipment. In this guide, we’ll show you how to take product photos that boost conversion and dazzle your customers on a budget.

How to Take Great Product Images

Step 1: Do your research

Don’t waste your time on outdated visual styles or tired branding strategies. Your first step should always be competitor research. Look for successful brands that are as close to your niche as possible and learn from their expertise—no need to reinvent the wheel. Pay close attention to detail here: observe the type of angles they are shooting at, the backdrops they are using, and their styling. Look at the kind of images they use for banners, social media, and product pages, and how many images they display for each product.

Step 2: Identify your photography needs

Before you begin, make sure you know what types of images you’ll need. Below are the most common types of photos you might want for your business:

  • Individual (individual product photos for banners, catalogs, and online marketplaces)
  • Group (shots of multiple products for social media and advertisements)
  • Lifestyle (photos showcasing the product in action, often using models)
  • Flat-lay (shots that give a bird’s eye view of the product)
  • Scale (shots that show your products next to everyday objects to illustrate their size)
  • Close-ups (shots that highlight special features and details)
  • Packaging shots (shots of product packaging and labels)

Step 3: Select Your Equipment

Cameras

There’s no need to spend big on fancy DSLRs. Any recent generation smartphone will get the job done, as smartphones today come standard with high-quality built-in cameras.

If you do have access to a dedicated camera, here are some extra considerations for shooting with a camera:

● Set your white balance temperature to the Kelvin temperature of your studio.

● Adjust the aperture depending on the type of photo you are capturing. Want a sharp focus? Set the camera to a smaller aperture for a wider depth of field.

● Shoot in RAW. If there’s no RAW setting, shoot in the largest available JPEG setting.

● Turn off the flash.

Lighting

Natural light is the best way to get great lighting if you’re on a low budget. Try to photograph your products during the day when the sun is at its peak for optimal lighting. If the lighting is too intense, try diffusing it with a white sheet or piece of paper.

Artificial lighting is a great option if you can afford to splurge on studio lights and want to shoot when natural lighting is poor. You will need at least two softbox light setups and some LEDs to get started. Depending on the shape of your product, you’ll want your lights positioned all in front or two on each side. Usually, a triangular setup (three lights) is a good approach for product photography. Try using sheets or white cardboard to soften the lighting if the shadows are too intense.

Tripod

Eyeballing your pictures will never yield results as consistent and replicable as a tripod. If you’re just starting out, there’s no harm in holding the phone or camera yourself, and it’s possible to fix small issues with rotation in post-production. However, as your business expands, a tripod is a cheap investment that will be enormously helpful in making your photos consistent and reducing the risk of blurry photos due to unsteady hands. It’s better to go with flexible tripods as these will give you the most options for shooting at different angles and in different environments.

Step 4: Choose your background

Getting the right background keeps the focus on your products and reduces the hassle of post-production. Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to find a suitable backdrop, as there are plenty of affordable options.

In the studio

If you’re conducting multiple photoshoots, a white sweep is a great investment. If you’re feeling crafty, you can make your own chair-mounted sweep, particularly for smaller products. However, if you’re selling larger products like furniture or photographing apparel on models, you’ll want a stand-mounted sweep.

Outdoors and in nature

You can get creative with lifestyle photos and dynamic product imagery, choosing outdoor and indoor backgrounds that match your products. Think of greenery and natural beauty for cosmetics, gyms for energy supplements, beaches for summertime accessories, etc. Keep in mind, though, that it’s much easier to control lighting conditions in a studio environment, so it may be more challenging to capture outdoor photos.

Step 5: Set up the product

Place the product in front of your chosen background and make sure it’s centered on a flat, stable surface or elegantly displayed on your model. For accessories, it’s a good idea to use busts or figures to better display the product as it would appear on a model.

When photographing smaller or more intricate details, you may need to invest in a few tools, like:

  1. Glue dots and tape to keep everything in place
  2. Clips and pins for styling apparel
  3. Hangers to show products from different angles

Step 6: Take tons of photos

Always take more photos than you think you need. Inevitably, some of them won’t turn out, so it’s best to go overboard: capture the product from all different angles, perspectives, and positions. 

Organizing your photos by product and category as soon as they’ve been uploaded will save you a headache in hunting down the right images later.

Pro tip: Remember to clean your lens before starting the photoshoot! It may not be obvious while you’re snapping pictures, but a dirty lens can completely ruin your photos.

Step 7: Retouch your photos

Post-production is where you’ll take your photos from good to great. Pay special attention to each photo’s exposure, color balance, and look for issues with blur or unwanted elements in the frame. To edit your photos, you can use editing software to do it yourself or go with an affordable image-editing service. Here’s a comparison of two such options:

  1. Photoshop:

From minor corrections to substantial changes, this software does it all—it’s the industry standard for a reason. However, you will either need strong editing skills or be willing to study up and follow tutorials to use it effectively. To use Photoshop, you’ll need to purchase a subscription plan.

  1. autoRetouch:

If you haven’t mastered editing on your own and want a cost-effective alternative, autoRetouch is a great option. It’s an AI-powered tool that automates the entire editing process, from skin retouching to making ghost mannequins (an advanced technique that involves creating 3D product photos without a visible model or mannequin). It can batch-edit up to 100 images simultaneously.

Pro tip: If you are unsure how to get started with retouching software, YouTube has tutorials on just about every process imaginable.

Step 8: Optimize your images

The larger your images will be, the slower they will load. Digital buyers expect speedy load times and aren’t willing to wait around for massive images to display—not to mention that your website may look awkward as the images slowly load in. Make sure to keep file sizes as low as possible without sacrificing quality.
Lastly, name your images descriptively and include metadata and keywords to improve SEO (search engine optimization) and make your images accessible with alt text.

Bottom Line

It may take some time to learn the ropes, but for the enterprising business owner, learning to build out a store with your own product photos is a hugely cost-effective and rewarding process. Modern cell phone cameras and affordable editing options have made photography more accessible than ever, so there’s no reason not to give it a shot (no pun intended). Plus, you’ll have full creative control over the look and feel of your store, and have the satisfaction of knowing you did it all yourself!

Skin Retouching for Photographers – How to Manage Client Expectations

Skin Retouching– Managing Client Expectations in Photography

Clients often expect smooth, sleek, and spotless skin from their models. But in the real world, nobody comes pre-airbrushed—even top models. Sometimes, even with the best photographers, cameras, and makeup artists, you’ll wind up needing to retouch your models in post-production to remove skin blemishes, marks, and wrinkles.

High-end skin retouching can be challenging and time-consuming, yet it’s essential for client satisfaction. As photographers, how can we make our clients happy without spending days in Photoshop? This guide will let you in on the secrets of photo editors, help you manage client expectations, and show you how to generate gorgeous, flaw-free images without breaking the bank.

How To Talk to Your Clients About Skin Retouching

  1. Communicate in advance

Make sure to set expectations with your clients in advance. If you’re not willing to do more than simple retouching, or if you want to put a limit on requests for revisions, be upfront to avoid awkward conversations later and have these expectations in writing. Transparency and compromise are essential to making your clients happy in the long run. 

  1. Be open to criticism

When you’ve worked hard to edit your photos, it can be hard to hear that your client wants more. But remember: retouching is more about the client’s expectations than your editing skills! You may simply have a different approach than they do. Try to remember where your clients are coming from—the success of their business depends on the quality of their photos, so they are anxious to have the best.

  1. Align on tools and costs

You might not be a Photoshop whiz, and that’s okay. There are accessible, cost-effective tools to help you automate the editing process. Before getting started, make sure to communicate with your clients about what tools you will be using. Let them know what the associated costs are, whether it will be manual or automated, whether there are options for batch editing, how much time it requires, etc.

  1. Maintain the relationship

In the end, you want a happy client, but you also don’t want to burn yourself out trying to meet an unreasonable standard. Your goal should be to find a compromise that satisfies your clients without requiring Herculean effort on your part, and this is why we recommend looking at automated tools that can expedite the process.

Can You Get High-Quality Results With Automated Retouching?

Often, clients think manual retouching is the only option that produces quality results, so they expect their photographers to doctor all their images by hand. But modern AI-enabled software can be an incredibly powerful tool and make advanced skin retouching quick and easy. 

Is there a catch? Sort of. Not all tools give you the ability to customize the edits that are applied to your images, which can wind up looking unprofessional or generic. Take the following image, for example:

Yes, the model’s skin is glowing, but that’s all we see in the picture—the model! Despite having a “perfect” appearance, the photo looks overdone. Worse, nobody knows what the clients are trying to sell here. The first rule of thumb in skin retouching is the more natural, the better. The point of retouching is to remove distracting elements and focus on selling the product. If it’s overdone, the retouching itself becomes a distraction. 

This can happen with manual retouching too, but it’s a very common issue with automated tools. However, some tools like autoRetouch let you customize your edits while massively expediting the end result. In the next section, we’ll take a look at how autoRetouch makes editing easy.

How Does autoRetouch Work for Skin Retouching?

Surpass your clients’ expectations with consistent, high-quality skin retouching.

autoRetouch is an AI-enabled tool that can retouch skin in a single click. Unlike other automation software, autoRetouch has a wide variety of skin data based on age, ethnicity, and body area, which results in better outcomes for all skin types. It applies minimalist retouching to maintain the authenticity and natural appearance of your images.

The tool works with two presets:

1. Smart Mole Removal

How it works: autoRetouch’s AI algorithm analyzes the model’s skin and finds the difference between moles/blemishes and freckles, removing only the moles. This can be further customized if needed to leave certain marks in the photo.

2. Automatic Airbrushing

This feature applies a high-pass and gaussian blur over your images, giving the skin a smooth, natural finish. With additional customization options, editors can alter the level of smoothing according to their client’s preferences.

Bottom Line

There is no magic button for skin retouching, but you can get pretty close with modern automated editing options. Clear communication with your clients is key to making everyone happy with the final results, and you don’t need to go all-in on Photoshop editing to get beautiful, professional-looking images. Retouching is one of the most challenging tasks in the post-production stage, so don’t be afraid to ask for help and expedite your process with automation software like autoRetouch.