Retouching is a technical term that refers to the process of editing an image, usually by computer. This can include
anything from removing specks and blemishes, fixing damage, adjusting colours, merging images, or total edits.
See some examples of my retouching plus a simple tutorial.
Photo Retouching Samples
Almost any scan has dust specks, marks or some other defects that are worth spending a bit of time cleaning up,
especially logos that will be reprinted and need to look as professional as possible.
Aaltje Ottignon photo:|
This was one of the first photos on which I performed extensive retouching. My previous experience had been to
remove the odd speck of dust or minor scratch, but never on such a scale.
Aaltje Fieggen photo:|
When I received this photo via e-mail it was in very poor condition, covered in dark spots and blotches. By the
time I had finished with it, I had probably improved my retouching skills by the same amount.
Theo Thijssen photo:|
This image contained ghosting from an underlying page, and was comprised of dots rather than continuous shades,
making the editing process more difficult. I also made it square to match other family portraits.
Shoe lacing photo:|
This photo started out dark and reddish overall, with the flash creating a purple highlight towards the middle.
Some tweaking to brighness and color balance gave this photo a more natural look.
Simple Retouching Tutorial
When it comes to photo retouching, a good paint program is essential. Most professionals use powerful (and
expensive) software like Adobe Photoshop, but there are many inexpensive shareware alternatives like Paint Shop
Pro. I can even show you how to achieve surprisingly good results using nothing more than the Paint program that
comes free with Windows! Take a look:
Run Windows Paint (usually in the Accessories):
START > PROGRAMS > ACCESSORIES > PAINT
and open your bitmap file (eg. "Damaged.bmp").
If you want to edit a JPG file (eg. "Damaged.jpg"), you first need to convert it to
bitmap format. You can do a simple conversion by opening the JPG file in Internet
Explorer, then choosing:
FILE > SAVE AS
and selecting file type: BITMAP.
Click on the "Free-Form Select" tool in the top-left corner of the toolbar (the button with the rough star). This
tool allows you to select a part of the image.
In order to make the selection process easier, zoom in on the image by choosing:
VIEW > ZOOM > LARGE SIZE
(or press the shortcut key: CTRL-PAGE-DN).
Draw an outline around an undamaged area of the image by clicking and holding the mouse button whilst moving the
mouse to trace the outline. The undamaged area should be close by and as near as possible in color and shading to
the damaged area you are trying to repair. In this example, my selection is aimed at fixing the large diagonal
At this point, you could use the familiar Windows sequences of COPY and PASTE to
make a copy of the outlined area, but there's a much quicker shortcut! If you simply hold down the
CTRL key, when you click-and-hold inside the outline you have drawn, a copy can be dragged to a new
position. Having positioned that copy over the damaged area, let go of the mouse button.
Here's the finished result after fixing part of the scratch. With practice, you'll find that you can simply hold
down the CTRL key continuously, draw outlines and drag them over the top of damaged areas to very
quickly clean up the image. The main skill is in choosing the best area/direction to copy from.
Again, this exercise was not intended as a substitute for powerful image editing software! It was merely an
example of photo retouching in its most basic form.
"Never underestimate what a simple person can do with clever tools, nor what a clever person can do with simple
- Ian Fieggen
This page last updated: 29-Aug-2010. Copyright © 1999-2010 by
Ian W. Fieggen. All rights reserved.