Photoshop has become an essential tool in my graphic design career. Often I’ll receive image files for clients which need to be cleaned up or contoured (deep-etched for the old skool designers). But sometimes an image needs extremely detailed retouching work to make something that’s impossible look possible, or even create a photo-realistic image from scratch.

These are some examples of such work.

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Retouch: Wine bottle labels

Often in graphic design, you need to create realistic mockups of packaging to give the client an understanding of how it might look once produced. This is an example of a wine label which has been retouched to look as though it exists on a wine bottle. As with all photo retouching, an awareness of where light falls onto and object, how shadows would behave under that (or those) lights, and any reflective or semi-reflective surfaces that are present. If you don’t pay strict attention to these issues the illusion will not work.

Retouch: Miscellaneous product mockups

Often in graphic design, you need to create a realistic mockup of some packaging or another object to give the client an understanding of how it might look once produced. These are some examples of artificial three-dimensional mockups I’ve created of my work. For each of these, I’ve only had the original artwork file, and in some cases a photograph of a scene within which to position the mockup.

Retouch: Subnormal CD artwork

The artwork for the Subnormal album Theory For Evolution required some heavy Photoshop work to create a fire that would do exactly what I had in mind. Several images of fire were purchased through online stock libraries. Because the images were from different photographers and different shoots, I needed to firstly colour correct them so they were identical in colour, contrast and tone. While this sound easy enough, it requires very carefully adjustment of contrast and colour hue. It it was off even by a little, it could be seen and the images could not be mixed together convincingly.

Retouch: Kawasaki Ninja Fest image

A direct mail campaign for Kawasaki needed a concept. I was given an image of the Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle, the Kawasaki and Ninja Fest logos, and a tight deadline. The purpose of this direct mail piece was to raise awareness of an event showcasing the new Ninja motorcycle. I decided to create an image combining a teaser view of the new bike, and the swift slice of a ninja’s katana blade. Although a slice from a katana blade would normally result in a clean cut, I wanted to give the piece an exciting, raw feel with a torn paper element, to bring across the essence of the new bike.

Retouch: Realistic cork board image

A recent video project for client needed to have a large-scale (6000 x 4000px) image of a cork board, with various movable and editable items, such as photographs, stickers, and other pin-able items. The video storyboard pans around the cork board to reveal photographs and video provided by the client. As we could not shoot a cork board and all the elements to the right pixel size, and more importantly within the deadline, I was tasked with creating an photo-realistic version to be used in the video.

Retouch: Artificial Sun

When ANZ rebranded, one of the stipulations in the style guide for the Institutional sector of ANZ was that all photographic images needed to have a clear blue sky, and the sun. While sourcing images with these elements in itself is not difficult, finding these images which also have a relationship to institutional banking is a bit harder. I’d often come up against an image which was perfect conceptually, but had no sun in the sky. This led me to created a couple of artificial, but photo-realistic, sun images that I could insert into any image with a clear blue sky.