Photo retouching

Photo retouching workflow to get the best output from your edits.

Photo retouching requires a proper workflow to keep the process simple and monotonous. The photo retouching workflow starts from, processing the RAW file to get best dynamic range, correcting the compositions, correcting and process skin, colour processing for that particular look, and finally processing the image for the media.

Photo retouching is a process which can make your photos stand out from the crowd. I am working as a commercial photographer and retoucher since 10 years. My company Varun Patel Photography has shot and retouched pictures for many magazines and brands. Being a fashion photographer, i really can not ignore the importance of photo retouching.

A good retoucher can give your images proper justice, where as a wrong person can do the same job horribly. So selecting your photo retoucher is again a big and important task. I personally do not outsource my images to others for retouching purpose, as i have knowledge of photoshop and i been working as commercial retoucher since forever, so i always keep my work to my self only. Lot of my followers on my Instagram, or Facebook always asks me to write a blog about basics of my retouching workflow, so here it is guys. I hope you will enjoy this.

Slide to see before/after.


I always believe in taking better images in camera, but this does not mean, that i ignore the importance of post processing. My retouching workflow consists of following steps.

1)Processing RAW.

As shot raw file

One of the most important part of photo retouching workflow is, to start right. Processing your RAWs in correct way can lead your entire process to desired output. While processing the RAW I keep in my mind for two things mainly, which is exposure and the correct white balance. There are many other important corrections to be done in camera RAW, like highlight recovery, vibrance, lens corrections and noise reduction.


2) Saving Presets.

Raw file processing in CS6

Once your entire RAW process is done. Do not forget to save the preset for later use. Saving preset is very important to save your time, specially when you are about to do retouch a bunch of images. Saving preset will save all the changes made by you on your RAW file. So later when you are planning to edit another image from same shoot, all you have to do is, open the image in RAW and select the preset you just saved. You will see it will apply all the previously done changes on this new file also.


3) Study your images and prepare notes.

Photo retouching

After you click on OPEN IMAGE, after your RAW process. Your image will finally come into Photoshop interface. I take really good time to study my images before i start my retouch process. Studying your images and making the notes are really important because once you start your retouching process you sure will forget about some small marks or points, which can make huge difference in the perfections. See for all the imperfections in this stage, like those marks on floor, those body shapes to change, skin impurities, colour balancing and many more. As you see in this example here, i mark my work with a bright marker.


4) Start working on your notes.

Photoshop retouching

Now as your notes are ready. Start working on the images you have marked. Note that this step can take from 10 minutes to some hours, depending on the work that has to be done. This step will mostly include use of tools like, cloning, healing, masking, selection tools. Once you get your desired result and all the marked issues has been resolved. The next step will be to prepare your image for web use (if you are planning to post the images online).


5) Preparing your images for web use.

Save for web

After all the process, the final step is to prepare your images for web use. The reason my images are clear and crisp on my social media is because, this step is always making the difference for me. You can find this option in Photoshop -> File -> Save for web. This process will make sure about adding the right amount of sharpness and compressing the image with right algorithms. Now your images is ready for upload.


So next time when you are retouching your images, just try the pointers i gave here for photo retouching and surely you will see a good difference in your working style and outcome. And do let us know in comments, what article you want us to write in future on our blog.


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Varun Patel is big name when it comes to Fashion Industry. His work has been published in magazines like FTL, Femina and many others. He also conducts Fashion Photography Workshops and shares his knowledge with other photographers. He mostly shoots Fashion and Commercial Portraits, during his free time he also likes to experiment with the conceptual editorials.

8 thoughts on “Photo retouching workflow to get the best output from your edits.”

  1. So much in so less…
    This skill of yours makes easy to understand the most complex but most vital part of photography in not more than one go. In the Era of cut throat competition and hiding the secrets of success, your choice of making the things available for all on open platform as this commands extra respect. Thanks for the content shared and making feel comfortable to ask for more information and knowledge about the Art.

  2. Great stuff and tips , thanks to you for being a wonderful mentor sir . I would really appreciate if you could share few tips on how to make best use of manual flashes while shooting outdoor with minimal light setups. Thanks

  3. Awsm sir,
    Thank you very much for all the lovely blogs. These are very much guiding and inspiring to do better work.
    Thanks a lot sir.

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