What is Photo Retouching? – Retouching Types, Examples, Tips and Techniques

Photo retouching is an in-depth work of post-production. However, a retouched photo is different from a normally edited one. This is more of a work of gravity that requires professionals to handle. And that’s why different industries like fashion, advertisement, or activities like promotion and branding activities hire experienced image retouchers to do the job.

What is Photo Retouching?

Photo retouching is the process of editing a photograph to improve the quality of the image by removing flaws and improving aesthetic qualities.

Photo retouching is an important part of graphic design, commercial photography, and other fields. It can be used to make people or objects look better or change their appearance for a particular purpose.

Basically, it is an extensive portion of post-production work on which imperfections are removed, alterations like color correction, tone balance, contrast, brightness are adopted so that the final image looks glamorous.

Photo retouching aims to make images look natural while still maintaining an aesthetically pleasing tone. The best way to do this is to use various tools designed for this purpose, such as skin smoothing, skin toning, eye glow, teeth whitening, teeth straightening, and more.

Don’t forget to read: How to choose photo retouching professional

What is the Difference Between Basic Photo Editing and Photo Retouching?

The main difference between photo editing and photo retouching is the degree of editing. While photo editors do the basic edits, photo retouchers work on profound edits.

  • Basic Photo Editing: Photo editing is the post-production work where adjustments, alterations are made on an image up to a basic level. Such works may include cropping, brightness, straightening, among others. The end results look better than the raw file.
  • Photo Retouching: Advanced adjustments that are made in the photo to make it more stunning and lucrative. A retouched photo can be distinguished from the original one as the changes are more extensive, and the end product shows dramatic improvements.
what's inside of photo editing

Different Types of Photo Retouching

Retouch works have variations depending on the type, work gravity, and purpose. Here are the descriptions of some most popular forms of image retouching.

High End Retouching

High End Retouching

High end retouching is one of the most complicated types of retouching and requires experts to do it. The work is done without deforming any pixels in photo retouching software like Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom. And thus, an exquisite type of results is produced.

A Complete Guide of High-End Photo Retouching

Portrait Retouching

Portrait Retouching

Portrait photography captures people’s personalities. Therefore, under portrait retouching, a retoucher obliterates the flaws, adjusts tone colours and brightness, and gets rid of dark spots. Thus, the image’s vibe enhances to an astounding level.

Headshot Retouching

Headshot Retouching

A vital type of retouching work. With this work, you can ensure a flawless, fresh face. A clean face is important for corporate usage. Along with some glorifying retouch, it ensures a neat and clean, clear vision and professional look overall.

Product Retouching

Product Retouching

Product photo retouching is the work of making a product obvious and realistic enough with the right color and ready to sell. When you are selling products online, a well-retouched photo can avoid being on edge and successfully get the job done.

Commercial Retouching

Commercial Retouching

Commercial retouching means the work where product images will be displayed on promotional platforms like billboards, ecommerce platforms. People’s visibility on those platforms is massive. As these images can’t be too showy or devoid of naturalism, such retouching work needs extra caution.

Fashion Retouching

Fashion Retouching

Fashion brands mostly seek fashion photo retouching services. Under this work, fashion photos (most of which includes models) go through adjustments, manipulations and polishing to make those more stunning. As a result, fashionistas catch the message and are attracted to new fashion trends.

Model Photo Retouching

Model Photo Retouching

Models are the epitome of fashion. Therefore, their images require touch-ups. Model image retouching, aka model retouching, is the retouching process of making a model more attractive and charming. This type of work requires work from head to toe, left to right of the image, depending on requirements.

Beauty Retouching

Beauty Retouching

Beauty retouching is a selective type of retouching for hair, face or skin products. So, this retouching work is required by those industries whose products beatify us. Such retouching creates a before-after feeling among the potential viewers and helps them convert to become actual buyers.

Body Retouching

Body Retouching

Body retouching is the work where a body is given a believable shape. It includes slimming, getting rid of cellulite from muscles, arms, belly, thigh, highlighting the curves, adjusting heights, etc. The ultimate target of body retouching is to create a perfect body shape.

Skin Retouching

Skin Retouching

Skin retouching is the process of removing unwanted blemishes in the skin. During the process, not all marks are removed. Here’s the rule: professional photo retouchers smoothen the parts which are temporary; mostly, they keep birthmarks, moles but remove other spots from pores or acne.

Hair Retouching

Hair Retouching

Got frizzy hair or loose hair strands in the photo? Hair retouching can help you get stylish looking set hair. This work is complicated, and retouchers need to have patience as such works may not always be visible, but the outputs can make the difference.

Make-up Retouching

Make-up Retouching

Camera shooting requires models to do some make-up. Sometimes photoshoots can’t capture the make-up in detail, that’s where retouching works come in handy.

Make-up retouching is the retouching process of fine-tuning and highlighting the make-ups on eyes, eyebrows, cheeks, lips, jawline etc. This requires precision so that it appears natural.

Glamour Retouching

Glamour Retouching

Glamour retouching is called digital make-up. It is a type of advanced technological editing of photoshop. The work is mostly done on faces to bring out the charm and attractiveness.

When it seems that simple editing can’t manifest the actual beauty of a face, that’s when this magic wand works.

Editorial Retouching

Editorial Retouching

This type of retouching is intended solely for editorial images that are published in magazines, editorial features etc. These are not directly promotional images; rather, they help deliver the concept across the potential viewers. Depending on the purpose, editorial retouching varies from image to image.

Creative Retouching

Creative Retouching

Creative retouching is an artistic level of retouching where 2 or more images subjects are collaged to deliver one message in a single image. The final results are something interesting and provoke thoughts. That’s why such works take more time than the average retouched images.

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Why is Photo Retouching Important?

Why is Photo Retouching Important

Image retouching is important because it embodies professionalism, clarifies the subject in the image, removes distractions; thus, it can substitute real products just fine.

Here’s the details of what retouching work can do to your photos.

Enhance The Images

Retouched images have a charm of another level which only edited photos rarely can bring. When you get your work retouched, you are asking for a deep level of processing to be done. It helps enhance the appeal of the images. As a result, the ending products become visually aesthetic and pleasing.

Eliminate Imperfections

An image isn’t always flawless. And there are solutions to remove those. With slight touch-ups, you get images without distractions, flaws that take focus away. The main perk of removing distractions is potential customers get impressed and pay heed where you want them to.

Show Brand’s Professionalism

Publish polished images of the product or services you offer. Through this, you are being concise and obvious in your actions and speeches. It will help you be distinguished and reputed among the competitors and depict your professionalism to the potential viewers.

Engage Maximum Viewers

Professionally retouched helps engage more viewers. They tend to pause and check the changes and try to figure out the work behind the image. So, yes, you can hook viewers when you get the work done by experts.

Different Photo Retouching Techniques

Different Photo Retouching Techniques

The most vital photo retouching techniques have been briefed.

Brightness (Color) Adjustment

Brightness is the factor to enlighten or darken an image. Depending on certain criteria, brightness plays a vital role in creating the appearance of an image. Increasing brightness will light the image up to white. On the contrary, decreasing it will minimize the lightning up to black.

Hue and Saturation

Hue means the color variations, and saturation means the intensity of a particular hue. Sometimes images don’t show the exact color of different things, specially happens to model photoshoots. In that case, hue and saturation will bring out the diversity.

Curves Adjustment

The work of the curve is to adjust the tone of an RGB photo. It is shown in a diagonal line inside a square. By moving this line, the tone of the selected area can be changed. With the curve adjustment, you can have control over tone, shadows, etc.

Frequency Separation

Portrait images separate information into high and low and keep them into 2 different layers to process. High frequency keeps information of the outer face, whereas low frequency has information of tone, colors etc. Without affecting the other layer, it’s easy to work on a single layer.

Spot Healing

The name comes from the spot healing brush, and it does the exact work as the name suggests. With a sample spot image, minor marks or unwanted imperfections (mainly to tiny ones) on any image can easily be removed to make it flawless.

Dodge and Burn

Overexposed images can make the images white and underexposed black. To control, adjust or limit such happenings, dodge, and burn works. Working with lightning is called dodge, and darkening is called burn. Both of these work to manipulate exposure.

Wrinkle Remove

Though it says remove, we actually don’t remove all; we reduce. Removing those from aged models to make him/her teenager won’t look realistic at all. Our digital photo retouching tactfully handles this part to make the models look vigorous.

Blemish Remove

Blemishes like acne marks or other spots are irritating to have on the face. This really takes attention away from the images. By removing temporary marks (not birthmarks), we help make your skin look clean and natural.

Objects Removing

It’s one of the smartest choices for commercial photography. Removing objects make the image clear and hold attention to the subject. Retouching any image will make the image as real as there wasn’t any obstacle in the first place.

Photo Reshaping

You can get a retouching service for reshaping your model image. For male- six-pack, muscle enhancement; for female- slim body, fat removal, or model images with awkward posture- all these can be fixed.

Eye Retouching

Eye retouching work is interactive with lighting. That’s why overdoing it may ruin all the effort of a good photo. Such retouch can add dimension to your portrait, retain a natural look and make you more attractive.

Eye Swap

When you need the protagonist of your images to look into the camera but s/he isn’t, you can have his/her eye swapped without distorting the face. All you have to have is that person’s another picture where s/he is looking into the camera.

Braces Removal & Teeth Whitening

A smiling face gives an appealing and welcoming look. So, our work involves removing braces from teeth (unless this is for service) and whitening those like pearls. You get images of a person who is confidently smiling!


Toning is the level of warmth, coolness, black or white according to different shades of color. With the toning retouch, you can adjust any color or shade to integrate into the image to bring the desired output.

Clone Stamp

This work is done by the clone stamp tool. You copy from a certain spot, and this tool clones that and stamp it where you need it. Clone stamp really blends well with the surroundings, so the alterations won’t be visible.

Skin Smoothing

In portrait photography or commercial photography, models’ skin is a big deal. With the skin smoothing retouch work in photoshop, bump, unevenness, pimple, rough skin can all be made smooth and look naturally rejuvenating.


With the help of digital make-up, now glowing up is easy and time-saving! This work requires caution in photoshop because applying make-up isn’t easy. Such work will transform a face to appear more glamorous, colorful, and natural.

Stray Hair Removal

Stray hair is distracting. And if it’s lying around the model’s neck or flying haphazardly, making him/her look disheveled, that’s not professional at all. By working on loose hair strands, we make your model look like having fun with hair.

Glare Removal

Glare is a shiny dazzling part that on occasion makes images artistic but is mostly considered a problem. This creates distraction and gives an off-vibe. We help remove, reduce, or adjust glare to bring back the natural look.

Shadow Work

To make images appear realistic, photo retouchers use their trump card, which is shadow. In some images, casting a shadow works fantastic, whereas some do by removing. Perfection in shadow works makes the object realistic and your brand meticulous.


Reflection is another commercial sought-after retouching work. Industries that need it to know how impactful this work is. It has nearly the same purpose as the shadow. Adding or removing where it requires help making the photo look artistic, interesting, and more glorifying.

Head Swap

In group photos, there is someone unprepared or not posing perfectly. With the head/face swapping, you can easily have the necessary alteration to take place and get the perfect group photo without anyone knowing.

Noise reduction

Noise is an unwelcomed and sensitive issue for images and, in some cases harmful, it can degrade image quality and ruin your effort. Our technique will help reduce noise and make the noise without affecting the main image so that you get a perfect image with ensured quality.

Slimming Edits

In some shots, objects appear fat/ bigger than the actual size due to distorting. This looks odd on the human body and face. Our retouching service adjusts such features according to the person’s stature.

Liquify Effect

This is an interesting effect done by the liquify tool. If you need your images to have a creative and artistic touch, rotate, pull, or similar powerful changes in the image, this effect will do the job just fine.

Background Enhancement

Images don’t have necessary space around, or background isn’t suiting well with the object in focus- such cases occur. Under our retouching work, we will adjust such issues- extend the image or replace the background so that it delivers a complete message.


Resizing is an easy task; a lot of people find trouble while doing this job. Whatever your image size is, we can help you resize it according to your requirement. This is a vital service, especially to ecommerce sellers.

Which Are The Tools Used For Photo Retouching?

Which Are The Tools Used For Photo Retouching

Retouch works are delicate. Therefore you can do image retouching works with these tools: Healing Brush Tool, Spot Healing Tool, Red Eye, Patch Tool, Content Aware Tool, Clone Tool, Dodge & Burn Tool, Blur & Sharpen Tool, The Color Replacement Tool, The Pattern Stamp Tool, Liquify Tools.

Useful Photo Retouching Tools That You Can Use in Photoshop

Spot Healing Brush Tool: The only difference between Healing Brush Tool and Spot Healing Brush Tool is the selection of samples. In the Spot Healing tool, users don’t need to select any samples; rather, it automatically selects samples and makes adjustments and provides faster output.


  • Select ‘Spot Healing Brush Tool’ from the toolbox.
  • Make adjustments from the 2nd top menu bar (options like size, hardness, mode, type, etc.).
  • Click/ drag wherever you need, and photoshop will heal those spots automatically.

Healing Brush Tool: The healing brush tool in photoshop is an excellent tool for removing imperfections on images and creating uniformity. Users can control their work without creating any mess or trouble.


  • Click ‘Healing Brush from the toolbox.
  • Hit ‘Alt’ and then click to copy the sample like which you want the change.
  • Then click and drag to the imperfect areas you want to apply the changes.

Patch Tool: Patch tool is another tool for removing unwanted objects, flaws, or blemishes that are a bit large in size. Using any of the selection tools, you can select that particular part for removal, and the patch tool will remove that.


  • Click the patch tool from the same palate as the ‘Healing Brush Tool’.
  • Select the area you want to blend.
  • And then drag it.

Content-Aware Tool: This feature of photoshop works somewhat similar to a patch tool for removing distractions. It automatically detects the surroundings and thus fills up the spot after the object gets deleted.


  • Select the subject of removal with any selection tool.
  • Click ‘Edit’ from the menu bar, then go to ‘Fill’.
  • Then choose content-Aware, and hit ‘OK’.

Red Eye Tool: While photographing under a flashlight for headshot or portrait photography, we sometimes end up having red-pupil eyes. Red eye tool is used to remove that. It’s a much easier and time-saving tool.


  • Click the Red Eye tool from the toolbox (below healing brush).
  • Then, click and drag the tool around the eye area. And the crimson color will be gone.

Clone Tool: As the name suggests, it duplicates a particular area and helps conceal unwanted areas. The above-mentioned tools have limitations while working in complex patterns or tiny details. And that’s where this tool liberates the users. It is quite a complementary tool for all types of photography, especially portrait photography.


  • Go down to the left side of the toolbar until you find the ‘Clone Stamp Tool’ icon.
  • Hit the right click. You will see the name.
  • It will start copying/cloning the area.
  • Then paste it in the place you want.

[Note: In the Clone Stamp Tool, the ‘plus’ sign is from where it copies, and the brush is where it paste]

Pattern Stamp Tool: Pattern stamp tool is used for making patterns, creating designs on particular areas. Users can choose different patterns from the pattern palette on the options and thus create interesting features on their images with this tool.


  • Go down to the left side of the toolbar until you find the ‘Clone Stamp Tool’ icon. Click it, and the 2nd option is the Pattern Stamp Tool.
  • Select a brush and then a pattern from the palette.
  • Adjust size, shape, opacity, and other specifications.
  • And paint it where you need it; the pattern will be visible.

Dodge & Burn Tool: Non-destructive techniques to darken or lighten any particular part or spot in the image. Dodge works to whiten the picture, whereas burn plays the role of darkening. Combining both the shadow, tone, etc., are adjusted.


  • Go to the tools panel.
  • You will find the dodge tool icon; click it.
  • The panel of the dodge tool and the burn tool will pop up.

Blur & Sharpen Tool: Both the tools work juxtaposed. In images, there are parts you want high focused, whereas in some, you want them less focused. Sharpen tool highlights those you want the attention and Blur tool blurs the parts which you don’t.


  • Go to the tools panel.
  • You will find the Blur tool icon; click it.
  • The panel of the Blur tool and the Sharpen tool will pop up.

The Color Replacement Tool: For changing any foreground or background color, this is a handy tool. You just choose the color and hover the brush over your targeted spot, and the color will replace the new one.


  • Go to the tools panel.
  • You will find the Brush tool icon; click it.
  • The panel will open up, and you will see the color replacement tool.

Liquify Tools: Want to make some pull, push, rotate, or something like this? With the liquify tool, you can create any shape of distortion and adjust accordingly.


  • Go to Filter.
  • A panel will open up; go below to liquify.
  • Click it, there you go.

Which Software Professionals Use to Retouch Photos?

Every photo editing software has its own unique features and clientele. So, I am not going to compare them with which one is the best or worst. Rather, I will categorize them according to the user experience and review. So, here’s a list of 10 best software for photo retouching.

  1. Adobe Photoshop
  2. Adobe Lightroom
  3. GIMP
  4. Skylum Luminar
  5. Aurora HDR
  6. Exposure X6
  7. Affinity Photo
  8. Pixlr
  9. On1 Photo Raw 2022
  10. DxO Photolab 5

How to Learn Photo Retouching Techniques?

How to Learn Photo Retouching Techniques

Platforms like Adobe, Udemy, Skillshare, Envato Tuts+, and Phlearn benefit the best to learn photo retouching techniques.


Photo Editing Software Adobe has its own tutorial platform from where aspirants can learn different types of post-production work. Short videos are posted there for different levels of learners like beginners, intermediates, and so on. Having basic ideas of photoshop tools and toolbars will give you the upper hand.


Udemy is a global platform for learning, accumulating knowledge, and honing skills. It has both free and paid versions of videos. A wide range of skilled and experienced photo retouching experts and photo editing professionals are here to share knowledge. So, passionate learners can search for anything and find the exact solution they need.


Skillshare is a vast platform where skilled professionals of different subjects take classes. Those who want to learn photo retouching can take those classes upon being a member. With different comprehensive lessons, projects, they will learn plenty and can gather adequate knowledge.

Envato Tuts+

Envato Tuts+ has been doing an excellent job by assisting people in curving their creativity and pursuing their passion. It has informative ‘how-to tutorials’ and step-by-step written instructions on extensive topics for free. So, interested learners will find photo retouching tutorials and learn the fundamentals from start to end.


PHlearn has taken photoshop tutoring to another level. Its way of teaching is interesting, creative, and engaging that is deliberated to nurture creativity. It shares different video tutorials for photoshop of different techniques. Though there are free versions available, the affordable paid version serves more in-depth learning.

Things to Know Before Hire a Photo Retoucher?

Things to Know Before Hire a Photo Retoucher

To hire a photo retoucher, go to his/her website and find the contact information and communicate. As for the company, you will easily find the contact page and also try the available ‘free-trial’ option to check its work.

But before that, make sure you are investing, not wasting, your money and time with the following factors.

Things to consider before hiring a photo retoucher-

  1. Experience: How long are they engaged in this industry? The more experience one has, the more likely one is to provide quality service.
  2. Expertise: Are they skilled enough? Generally, photo retouching companies have photoshop experts teams to Maneuver the project you will hand over. =
  3. Sample: Check out the website or portfolios of your preferred retouchers. By viewing it, you will have an overview of their way of working.
  4. Quality: Quality service for images is a must. For their work quality affirmation, you can go for the ‘free-trial’ option and verify first-hand.
  5. Cost: Generally, outsourcing retouching services cost less than heard. Even so, it is better to check out the approximate cost of your project. If you have a bulk amount of images to retouch, companies may offer you a discount!
  6. Turnaround Time: You need to check their turnaround time as well. In case of urgent workload, how fast they can deliver your work, make sure to ask that as well.

All these will help you find a professional and trustworthy retouching partner.

Outsource Photo Retouching Services

Offshore Clipping delivers industry-grade digital photo retouching services in a wide range of categories. With a simple 3-step process, you can take this affordable service and even get a discount for the bulk amount.

Discount on photo retouching services


Q: What is retouching used for?

A: Retouching is the type of extensive level of photo editing, mainly used for professional fields.

Q: Do professional photographers retouch photos?

A: Professional photographers get their photos retouched because they generally don’t have the time to do this work by themselves. Relying on retouching professionals is a time and cost-effective solution for them.

Q: How to retouch a photo?

A: You can retouch a photo by using the tools mentioned above.

Q: What is a photo retouching service?

A: When a photo retoucher provides retouching services in exchange for payment, that’s called photo retouching service.

Q: How do you find image retouching services?

A: Nowadays, finding such services online is relatively easy. You just need to consider factors like experience, expertise, cost, time just to be on the safe side.

Q: How much does it cost to retouch a photo?

A: Retouching pricing is calculated depending on complexity. With this pricing calculator, you can check our pricing.

Final Words

From a professional photo retouching service company, you will get enhanced quality images with additional benefits. Hence, it’s always best to pair up with one rather than look for one every now and then.

Hope, your question of what is photo retouching has been answered. And you find this article informative enough for you to understand the variations of photo retouching works and undertake your decisions.

Ruzel Hasan
Ruzel Hasan

Ruzel Hasan is a genuine polymath. He has versatile skills and is adept in post-production work, graphic designing, photo editing, file formatting, and mastering various related applications and software. In addition, he has a knack for writing, so he shares his knowledge, tips, and ideas through content within his busy schedule.

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