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Although in recent times, the digital edition of retouching image is more popularly known by photo montages or WhatsApp memes, in our field, it refers to the process of modifying photographs with specialized techniques and software to achieve a visual result that the original photo does not. Reached, whether in terms of composition, detail, color, realism (or aspiration), etc., as part of the brand design.
We can talk about two main types of Retouching image editing and Color Correction.
By retouching an image, we must understand the work of achieving the representation in a single frame of the elements we want, so that it involves methods of cutting, selecting, and merging elements from different exposures, “rescue” or recreation of incomplete areas, alteration of the lighting and styling of the subject or photographed object to give a different ” mood ” (for example, more cheerful or more sophisticated), or achieve a composition with a better balance or color balance, among other objectives. The end product of that process often ends up in the image present in the final packaging design.
A good example of digital retouching image can be seen in the beauty industry, where there is an effort to make, for example, models’ hair looks more voluminous or closer to the tone of a dye. BRANDWATCH ‘s work in this area represents the ideal condition of the result of using the product and the model’s skin, her makeup, etc.
On the other hand, photo color correction is the activity of taking that final image and processing it with your specific rendering process in mind. As part of our prepress service, this means compensating for quality loss by printing at a lower resolution than digital and maximizing the impact on the consumer, taking into account printing limitations such as the number of inks, the color of the substrate, the target color space, among other factors, and techniques of profile transformation, percentage adjustment, mixing or substitution of ink by areas, recovery of shadows and highlights (to avoid loss of detail in very dark or light areas) are applied. Very clear), etc.
A normal photographic color correction process involves setting minimum and maximum color percentages, masking specific areas that should carry only certain inks to ensure a given whole, channel manipulation to use spot inks (say, a Pantone), etc., to create a predictable digital file through a calibrated color proof, and that the printer can keep constant throughout the press run. It’s the key difference that distinguishes a bright image on leading packaging from a dark, blurry, gray image on the packaging of the least successful product on the shelf.
In both types, said digital image editing is carried out in applications for editing raster graphics, that is, digital files made up of pixels, with a specific resolution (quality, size). Depending on the quality of the source, for example, how well the photo-shooting session was prepared and carried out or the resolution used during the scan of the negative, there will be room for maneuver during editing. Of course, the use of lossy compression digital formats such as JEPG, which lose information every cycle, should be avoided.
Although there were once a variety of methods and programs, today, professional retouching image and correction are done in Adobe Photoshop, which has become an indispensable and powerful tool in the commercial photography, design, and prepress processes; There are also plugins, Photoshop extensions for specialized tasks that help achieve even better results. Ideally, we will work with standard industry parameters and with the technical specifications collected from the printing provider to work in an environment that allows us to avoid unpleasant surprises when seeing the final printed result.
In general, we are talking about a creative and technical activity, which implies aesthetic demands and respect for specific material considerations and adherence to very particular procedures or conventions, even somewhat curious.
There is something known as “memory colors” to cite an example. Memory color is defined as the canonical hue of an object that a human observer acquires through his experiences with that object, i.e., how he expects the sky, a leaf, beer, or orange to look ideally. For example, although my favorite apple is the Golden Delicious, light yellow and greenish in color, if someone asks me to imagine an apple, I will visualize a dark red apple, which is generally the color that millions of consumers expect to see represented on the packaging. Of the products they buy labeled as containing or flavored with, apple.
In general, we remember things with brighter and more saturated colors than they are; in other words, while we have no problem accepting that real objects look dull or imperfect, we prefer that the representations of those objects be much more alive than we will ever see them in reality.
So, those implicit expectations of those who have to authorize the final design and the color test, or in any case of the final consumers, about the tone of an orange or the appearance of the sea or the skin color of a model, have to be taken into account to start a conversation about the relevance of adjustments for that purpose, regardless of the original state of the images provided from the source. Otherwise, we risk additional frustration, arguments, and approval cycles.
So, to ensure a controlled, efficient, and successful retouching and color correction workflow, in addition to maintaining an up-to-date technology platform, professional and consistently calibrated display, measurement, and print output equipment, there is training in the use of the software tools and the necessary expertise.