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Ian's Graphics Site - Computer graphics information and advice from a "PixelTech"
Photo Retouching
Retouching sample (before) 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
BEFORE AFTER
Retouch sample 1 - Safeway logo (before) Retouch sample 1 - Safeway logo (after)
Safeway logo:
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.
Retouch sample 2 - Aaltje Ottignon photo (before) Retouch sample 2 - Aaltje Ottignon photo (after)
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.
Retouch sample 3 - Aaltje Fieggen photo (before) Retouch sample 3 - Aaltje Fieggen photo (after)
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.
Retouch sample 4 - Theo Thijssen photo (before) Retouch sample 4 - Theo Thijssen photo (after)
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.
Retouch sample 5 - Shoe lacing photo (before) Retouch sample 5 - Shoe lacing photo (after)
Shoe lacing photo:
This photo started out dark and reddish overall, with the flash creating a purple highlight towards the middle. Some tweaking to brightness and color balance gave this photo a more natural look.
See also my "Ian's Shoelace Site" for many more Shoe Lacing Photos.

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:
Retouching tutorial, step 1 Step 1:
Run Windows Paint (usually in the Accessories):
START > PROGRAMS > ACCESSORIES > PAINT
and open your damaged file (eg. "Damaged.tif").
Retouching tutorial, step 2 Step 2:
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).
Retouching tutorial, step 3 Step 3:
Draw an outline around an undamaged area of the image by clicking and holding the mouse button while 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 scratch.
Retouching tutorial, step 4 Step 4:
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.
Retouching tutorial, step 5 Step 5:
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.

Good luck!
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 tools."
- Ian Fieggen
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