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Monthly archive for October 2018

Understanding Prepress Services

Prepress services are any photo editing techniques that are used to prep an image for publication. An editing team typically has a set of go-to elements that they will apply to every photograph so that they can finish this task quickly. Prepress editing usually needs to be done on a tight deadline so most elements performed here are quite basic compared to other photo editing techniques.


An image must be set to the proper size to meet the needs of the publication. If this is not known then the editor may create a variety of images for the client to choose from. This prevents the client from having to resize the image after it has been edited since this can undo some of the editing work that was done during the prepress services.


Lighting, saturation and other color elements must be on point so the image can be published at its full potential. Editing done here will vary based on the quality of the image and the desired effect the client desires. The editor will start by removing any color errors that were the result of an error during photography and move on to adjusting any additional artistic elements that may be required.

Adding Graphics

Some clients use prepress servicesto add graphics to the image. Most often, this technique is used to embed a caption in the image, which will both serve as a way to describe the content of the image and give credit to the photographer. Publications may also add a title or a data chart to the photograph to enhance the content.

Converting the File

Most edited photo files will need to be converted to a specific data type before they can be fitted into the final presentation. The photo editor will usually take care of this concern so that the finished image can be used as-is.

Using Photo Retouching to Enhance Colors in an Image

When applying photo retouching techniques, you want to create effects that will enhance the overall look of the photograph without making it obvious that the picture was altered in any way. Retouching effects should serve as a means to enhance the natural elements within the photograph. Whenever possible, original elements of the photograph should be left intact to maintain an authentic appearance.

Defining Colors

Much of the work behind photo retouching is enhancing the coloring throughout the image. Poor natural lighting or excessive flash can wash out an image, making it look dull. Photo retouching software typically contains automatic filters that will brighten colors with the click of a button. These tools can also be used to correct specific coloring concerns such as redeye that may damage the look of your photograph. These filters can be an excellent timesaver for photographs that need very little work, but cannot always be guaranteed to provide a high level of detail.

In order to avoid creating an artificial looking haze on your photograph, editors are recommended to edit sections of colors separately. Touching up different sections on their own will give you more room to select the ideal color palette to preserve the natural look of the object. You can also blend these colored sections to preserve the lighting within the image rather than painting on a stagnant color block. Create a separate editing layer for each major section of color you plan to work with. This way you can add or remove effects without the threat of undoing other work you have done.

Defining Edges for Precise Coloring Effects

Clipping paths can also be used to select separate sections to adjust coloring effects. Create a new layer for each object you plan to edit and use the pencil tool to draw a clipping path around the desired portion of the image. This can be used to single out specific objects or to define edges and shadows that will require separate editing effects. Once the edges of your photograph are defined you can add specific coloring effects to each. Use blending tools or gradients to preserve lighting effects.

You can also use your clipping path as a guide to blend your edited effects into the original look of the photograph. Run a blending brush or sharpening tool along the edge to create a defining effect between your object and the background. This will help you eliminate any color run over that can make your editing look sloppy. This can also be used to create more definition, drawing the eye to specific portions of the image as desired. Keep any edging effects minimal to avoid damaging the background. Adding these in a separate layer will allow you to edit them later if you are not satisfied with the results.

Photo Masking Tools You Need to Know

If you have ever attempted to manipulate a photograph, you have probably worked with photo masking. Erasing a cloud from the sky or using a clipping path to trade a white background for a green are excellent examples. Photoshop comes with several tools to help you accomplish this, like the magic eraser, magnetic lasso and magic wand.
These tools can be a great way for beginners to get a feel for creating clipping paths and overlaying images, but they will eventually notice how crude they are. The magic wand is great for making quick paths on high-resolution photos with solid backgrounds. But it will create jagged lines or ghosting in a more complex image. The magnetic lasso bears a similar fate when used on images since it cannot make smooth curves. The worst, however, is the magic eraser. For minor jobs it is fine, but this is a destructive tool and one mistake means you have to start all over.
Once you begin to understand this, it is time to move on to the more advanced photo masking tools. These take a lot more precision and time, but they produce amazing results. Any mistakes you make are also easier to correct without backpedalling too much.

Your number one photo masking tool is the pen. This tool is the older brother to the magnetic lasso. It operates in the same way, making you draw around the object to create the path. However, it has the added benefit of being able to create natural, smooth curves. The path created by the pen tool can also be altered as much as you need even after it is complete, unlike the lasso.

If you are ready to give up the eraser tool, it is time to learn more about layer masks. Layers play a very important part in altering entire or only small selections of your pictures. Open your layers panel and click the “Add Layer Mask” button. It will show up as a white box beside your picture. Now, just like you would use the eraser, go over the mask with a black paintbrush to cover the area that you want hidden. Apply the mask and you are finished. What makes this better than the eraser is that it does not touch the picture. If you don’t like the mask you can always remove it and edit it further with no harm done.

The final tool is actually more of a technique and it involves channels. If you have a very complex image with intricate borders, like hair, that needs cutting out, using channels is your best bet. First you need to find your channels panel. Go through your options and choose the channel that gives you the highest contrast and click the other two off. Drag this channel into the “New Channel” window for duplication. Your image should be a stark black and white. Find the burn tool in your control panel. Use it to erase grey highlights and other outstanding details. Return to your regular channel and the clipping path will be complete.

Learning advanced photo masking techniques is the only way to create high-quality manipulations. Don’t forget to save duplicates of the picture just in case and never stop experimenting.

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