Product photography is meant to bring out the best in your product when you use images for marketing, e-commerce, ads, and more. Using flashy and trending gimmicks is fun and all, but that’s not going to translate to higher sales if people aren’t interested in what you’re selling. That’s why product photography is one of the important parts of creating stunning product images – the other, editing these product photos in Photoshop, is just as important.
While there are no hard rules when editing product photos in Photoshop, there are some best practices you can follow to get the best results from your images. Take it from the professional editors with years of experience providing high-end image manipulation services: here are some of the steps you should take when performing product photo editing in Photoshop.
Adjust the Settings
Start by importing your images and then adjusting the image settings. If you’re using other editing software or apps like Adobe Lightroom, it’s recommended that you adjust the settings there. Lightroom has preset filters, so if your client or your brand has a certain aesthetic, you can use these filters for consistency, and then edit as needed.
Otherwise, if you’re only using Photoshop to touch-up your pictures, import your images on Photoshop and use the settings to adjust your image’s brightness, contrast, sharpness, color balance, and levels. Each one you adjust has a different effect on the overall image as well the smaller details on your product. Play around with the settings until you achieve the best results.
Remove the Blemishes
A good product photography practice is to ensure your background, props, and your product are prepped well before your photoshoot. This means ironing out fabrics, polishing wood and metals, and ensuring your product looks its best. Not only does this provide a better base to get stunning results, but it also minimizes the number of flaws that might be overlooked during post-production retouching. However, because there are some unavoidable flaws that can happen during a shoot, some amount of professional product retouching in Photoshop is necessary.
There are a number of tools that can help you remove these unwanted spots. While there are no hard rules on which ones you should use for specific types of blemishes, we recommend using the following, as it’s the most efficient way to maximize these features:
- Spot Healing Brush: For retouching small dust particles, flecks, and other extremely small details on broad surface areas that can affect the image because of the specks it can create as pixels, which can be noticeable. The latest Photoshop versions allow you to easily select the affected area, and it will blend the area automatically.
- Healing Brush Tool: Similar to the Clone Stamp tool, the Healing Brush tool blends pixels over a selected area on the image. This is best used for the edges of a product and is different from the Clone Stamp tool. While the healing brush’s selected area moves as you move, the Clone Stamp selects a specific area and uses that exact area for your retouching.
- Patch Tool: Best for larger areas and for handling blemishes on models, if they’re included in the photograph. This tool allows you to draw around the blemish area and replace the selected pixels with the area you want to replace it with.
- Clone Stamp Tool: This tool allows you to copy a selected group of pixels and place it over the area you want to hide. You can then use the feathering tool or adjust the lighting settings to make the copied pixels blend in naturally.
Use Liquify to Retouch Dynamic Products
Not all product photography features a static product that can easily be edited with the tools mentioned above. However, this can be a problem in post-production, especially when factors like movement, creases, and folding can have an effect on the product. In this case, we recommend using the Liquify Tool when performing product photography editing.
The Liquify Tool can warp a certain area of an image
Ideally, your clothes should have been ironed or steamed prior to your shoot to minimize creases or unwanted wrinkles. This can minimize the instances of wrinkles and reduces the risk of each wrinkle not getting caught during post-production retouching. However, it’s possible for creasing to happen during the shoot, so this will require some amount of fashion photography editing in post-production.
The best way to deal with these kinds of issues is to use the Liquify filter on Photoshop. The liquify tool can help you warp, rotate, or even distort a certain area of an image. These changes can be subtle or dramatic, depending on what you want to achieve. There may be a learning curve to using this properly and achieving the result you want, but once you’ve gotten it, you can modify items in movement without the awkward results you could’ve gotten using any other tool.
Create or Edit Your Shadows
Shadows add depth to your image. While a product photo without shadows can work well with the right props or background, a photo of your product with a shadow can add three-dimensional depth and dramatic effect. One common mistake some new editors make is deleting all the visible shadows immediately even if it enhances a plain image of the product. Before removing a shadow, see if a shadow can add depth to an image and help it stand out, especially with a plain background.
From there, you can decide whether to modify the existing shadows in the image or create a new shadow. Retouching shadows can be done with image manipulation services by using the retouching tools mentioned earlier. If your photoshoot had multiple light sources or the photographer had little control over the lighting, there may be multiple shadows that can be distracting to the overall image. You can erase the unnecessary shadows while also enhancing the appearance of the shadows that add depth.
Alternatively, you can also create new shadows, but this takes some practice and skill. There are different types of shadows you can create – a natural shadow, drop shadow, or reflective shadow – so use one that works best with your overall aesthetic. It can be tricky creating natural-looking shadows, but eventually you may begin to create realistic shadows.
Adjust the Cropping and Image Size
Before saving your image, another step of product photo retouching is check if the cropping and the image size is uniform with all your other product photos, if you have multiple products from one client. Consistency is important as it makes it easier to use your images for e-commerce purposes without having to resize the image and warp its appearance when added to online stores, product pages, catalogs, and ads. Also make sure that the resolution is the same, as the photo quality might be different. Ideally, your image should have a 2048 x 2048 dimensions, as this is the usual size used when images are added to websites.
Also, make sure that the image isn’t over-cropped. An overly cropped image is when the shadow is awkwardly cut and there’s barely any white space between the outline of a product and the edge of the image. A good rule of thumb to follow is to avoid cropping the shadow and then providing enough space that the product is evenly at the center of the image. White space isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the alternative here is an image that’s too crowded.
What to Avoid When Editing Product Photos in Photoshop
There are no hard rules when it comes to editing, but there are some generally accepted best practices, as well as techniques that may not produce the best results all the time. Here are some common mistakes done in product photo editing in Photoshop.
- Adding Distracting Background and Props – for images used in ads or social media content, creative props and backgrounds can add flair and aesthetic to your image. However, try to control how much you add to an image. If you’re editing the background or flatlay in post-production, avoid adding eye-catching items that take the attention away from the main product. A good rule of thumb is to only add up to three unique things in one image. You can have more than three objects in a shot, but only limit it to three specific objects.
- Forgetting to Retouch the Background – while your product will always need some amount of retouching, don’t forget to look at the background or flatlay for any blemishes that appear. You’ll want your images to be perfect, but flaws like scratches and fingerprints on the props used during the photoshoot can be just as distracting. E-commerce image editing services cover everything in the image, not just the main product.
- Excessively Retouching Your Images – editing product photos in Photoshop is only meant to clean up and enhance the image. The photographer is in charge of taking beautiful photos, so there’s no need to overdo the retouching to make a product look completely different from what it is in real life. This can make a product look unnatural and off-putting to customers.
Let Your Product Images Stand Out with Paper Boat Creative
Taking photos is just one step towards achieving stunning product photography. If you want to enhance your products and make it look its best online and in other promotional materials, have professional product retouching in Photoshop done to get the best results.
At Paper Boat Creative, our photo editors have years of experience using Adobe Photoshop and other editing programs to deliver top-notch e-commerce images. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our product photo retouching services.