Seven Common Retouching Mistakes

by | Nov 15, 2020 | Blog Posts | 0 comments

Common retouching mistakes

I would like to share with you seven of the most common retouching mistakes people make. These are the most common retouching mistakes because I have noticed them over and over again in my career as a professional Photoshop retoucher. I worked with clients from all over the world, but mostly in Europe and the USA because the company I worked for at the time was based in Germany.

My experience has taught me that there are certain rules to follow and mistakes to avoid. In this article, I will share with you some of the most common mistakes people make and which should try to avoid when working with Dodge and Burn.


People often zoom in and work too closely

Working too closely is a problem when you want to achieve good professional results in image editing.
It is important to note that when working and looking at the image from a distance we see its full range of colors, tones, light, and dark parts and when we look at the image too closely we see mostly the texture and it is difficult to judge to what extent we need to process the photo what to correct or remove; what we really need. This way the image can be over-corrected and it’s an often-made mistake. 

Using the tools that are assigned to Photoshop by default in the toolbar

We often have to use the Dodge and Burn technique, but we are very likely to be wrong if we use the built-in tools instead of some advanced technique and the reason for this is that these tools can distort the colors and tones in the photo when used directly on the image. A much better option would be to work with manually created adjustment layers to help with the lightening and darkening of the parts we want to correct.
Using the default Photoshop tools is great if you are a beginner, but working as a professional requires a different approach. If you are not very familiar with Photoshop tools and how does it work, I suggest you check out my Photoshop course for beginners. You will learn the fundamentals of Photoshop easily in less than a weekend.   

Using only one of the tools to correct the differences in light and dark areas in our image

When we use the Dodge and Burn technique, we strive to achieve maximum perfection (if it’s a beauty image) and a maximum natural look if it’s a portrait. In this case, using only the brightening or darkening layers will make our image too flat, without the dynamic in the tones, and then we will lose the image’s natural look and it can look overdone. There are many ways of retouching your images, but few of them are really going to help you get professional results. I share in detail my entire image retouching workflow in my course. Make sure to check my Photoshop retouching masterclass if you want to learn every single aspect of my retouching workflow. I am sure it will help you get better results editing your images.

A too-long workflow

We’ve all experienced it – fatigue in the eyes is one of the most common problems in modern man.
It occurs every time our eyes stretch to adjust to a specific light – they can get tired. Breaking the workflow and resting for a while is a must if we want our results to be natural.
When we look at the screen for a long time, the eyes can get tired a lot, and this hinders our judgment, and that can lead to results that can make our image too waxy or with the common problem called “porcelain effect “.


Not using the help layers to improve our work in this retouching process

One of the most common retouching mistakes is that people don’t use a help layer in Photoshop.
People who use help layers will almost certainly get better results in image editing because they can help you see the flaws that need to be removed.

These help layers may be different. There are several layers to ensure maximum preservation of detail of the image included in my group. But in general one of the recommended layers is the use of a black and white layer that removes colors from the image temporarily so that I can focus on the process better.


Dodging or burning the photo too much

Lightening or darkening bigger parts of the image is a process called “contouring”.
Using tools and techniques such as Dodge and Burn is great, but overdoing this process can guarantee results worthy for articles like “The biggest Photoshop mistakes and disasters”. True good results are achieved with little work on the right pre-determined areas of the image. Everything else is superfluous.


Using a mouse while working with the Dodge and Burn technique


The good results with this technique are achieved through many small movements that are stacked one after another, not wide-range movements. That’s exactly why using a tablet to handle similar tasks will make the technique easier for you. Sometimes a person can make up to 20,000 movements with his hand and fingers and the use of a mouse will make it harder and can slow down that process. So don’t hesitate to invest in a tablet. It is something everybody should consider when deciding what quality results he pursues in his work. Hand movements when using a tablet are very different from mouse movements.
Long use of a mouse instead of a tablet causes the muscles of the hand to get tired and even traumatized sometimes, which is a problem that should not be neglected.

These some of the most common retouching mistakes using Photoshop. I wanted to share them with you because these are the things I would have said to myself years ago when I started.
Practice makes it perfect, so don’t stop learning and experimenting with new things.

By Samuel Zlatarev

As a portrait, beauty, and fine art photographer, Samuel Zlatarev has learned a lot about the art of photography and retouching. In this blog post, he shares some of his knowledge with everyone who wants to learn.

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