August 2010
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Month August 2010

Part I: How many Photoshop layers does it take to make an image?

Whenever an image is produced for commercial or advertising purposes, it is rarely “what you see is what you get.” Instead, every image is put through the Photoshop grinder where the walls in a room, a model’s wardrobe color, and the lighting are all scrutinized with exacting detail. Even “documentary” style images used in ad campaigns are put through a rigorous retouching process. Accidents aren’t allowed. When mistakes do happen, you’ll often find them on:

I recently finished a small non-commercial shoot where I played around on my own time to show what the image might look like after going through retouching. Here are the Photoshop layers for your amusement. As you can see, there are lots and lots of changes to the original image – changes to saturation, color, and even the structure of walls.

Once this image releases in the next few weeks, I’ll break it down some more. For now, take a look at the organization behind something like ten hours of Photoshop time.

Note: I try to name all my layers so that I know what is being done at a particular step to the underlying image. I got a bit lazy towards the end though – hence the generic non-named changes at the top.