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Photo Retouching Techniques

When it comes to Photo Retouching images, there’s no need for a lengthy intro. Nor are we going to bother with a discussion of fundamental image edits because we’ve already covered that in the others chapters in this guide and we’ll assume you are following general best practices.

If not, you can get caught up in the subsequent chapters where we cover:


  • How to build your own product photo studio (including the equipment you will need)
  • How to use your smartphone for product photos, if that’s all you have
  • How to shape light
  • How to add shadows
  • How to photograph highly reflective products
  • How to remove white backgrounds
  • How to master ghost mannequin photography


Instead, this chapter focuses on more advanced techniques, broadly categorized as retouching. We’ll walk you through popular retouching choices for three common ways to shoot apparel:


Let’s focus specifically on garment retouching (divided into light, medium, and heavy levels), before finishing with a discussion of model skin retouching.


We’ll discuss best practices, but just as in photography, many retouching decisions are driven by your brand’s aesthetic.

Outdoor apparel may call for a raw natural look, while luxury brands favor a more glamorous appearance.

We won’t try to make those decisions for you; we’ll simply present you with options and explain why each route might be favored.

At Pixelz we’ve edited over 15 million images for leading brands, retailers, and commercial photo studios. The principles we’re discussing here are based on our experience, but should not be taken to represent any of our clients. All opinions expressed are our own.

Garment Retouching

The principles of garment retouching are largely the same regardless of whether you’re shooting flat, on a hanger or mannequin, or on-model. Your biggest concerns are cleanup and shape.

When you’re shooting samples, well, your photos aren’t going to be perfect right out of the camera.

Your stylist may be able to fix some problems through product photoshoot preparation, pinning, and clever arrangements, but what do you do when the fabric is too sheer, the color is off, or one leg is longer than the other?

Retouching can solve problems that can’t be handled in the studio (as well as simplifying many that can).

Let’s take a look at some common retouching processes, broken down by level. We’ll also talk about two techniques that fall outside of basic level categorization:


Light Retouching: The Fix It Up Process

Light retouching focuses on cleanup, which means removal and replacement of obviously unwanted details. In this scenario, there are few aesthetic decisions to be made and you’re essentially performing repairs.

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