We all agree that we should always edit and touch up on our photos because it is very difficult to take a perfect, flawless photo; yet many people tend to fall into the trap of retouching too much and the resulting image is rejected as it has now become too unnatural looking. 

In this article, we would like to show you some of the common things people do that results in the over-editing of an image and share some tips on what you can do to avoid them.

PS: the image used to exemplify certain cases of over editing has been deliberately tampered with to illustrate the idea; the original image does not have any retouching error, is on sale and has been checked by our reviewing team for its quality.

Zoom your image to 200%!

Zoom in your image to 200% to check for any visual flaws that you might have missed out in its thumbnail size. Sometimes, less is more – if your resolution is too high, certain flaws can become too visible and you might want to consider lowering the resolution by a bit. By lowering the resolution, you might be able to save yourself some extra time touching up on those fine little wrinkles on the skin.

Close up of woman’s face

Wrinkles look less obvious on a slightly lower resolution

Too much sharpness

One popular retouch option is to increase and improve the sharpness of an image.

NG: over-sharpened image

^NG retouching

The image has been sharpened too much to the extent that the hair becomes fried like wire meshes, and there is a white lining around the model, making the model looks unnatural and cut out. The wrinkles on her eyes can also be seen.

OK: sharpening is just right and natural

^OK retouching

Look at how natural the image is when it is less sharp? The fine lines around her eyes also become less visible.

Unnaturally smooth skin complexion

The smoothening of one’s skin seems to be getting increasingly popular these days when it comes to photo editing. Nobody’s skin is flawless as much as they want it to be, so please watch it with the retouching of the model’s skin.

NG: skin is too polished and unnatural

^NG retouching

The skin is unnaturally smooth and the facial contours and even the tiniest line are no longer visible. The model now looks like a doll with flawless skin complexion, which isn’t what the normal human skin is supposed to be like.

OK: skin is properly retouched; blemishes are removed (eg. mole)

^OK retouching

We compare the previous doll-skin image to this: the skin texture here is much more natural. She looks more relatable and more human, and even the mole has been edited away naturally. People do not immediately think of this image as a retouched image, unlike in the previous example whereby upon first look, people already know subconsciously that the image has been tampered with in post-production. 

Skin Colour

Skin colour is also something important to take note of when retouching your image. Sometimes, photographers tend to forget about the skin colour when they are adjusting other aspects of the image (eg. focusing on how sharp the eye is, the lights and shadows in the hair etc).

Here are some examples of skin colours that are unacceptable:

NG: skin colour is too sick and yellow

^NG: skin colour is too pale and sickly; not healthy and looks unnaturally yellowish

NG: skin is too warm and red

^NG: skin colour retains too much reds, making it unnaturally warm

NG: the low saturation has made her skin lose its healthy colour

^NG: the contrast is too high and the saturation is too low; these are commonly adjusted fields when editing an image so please take note

Compare the above with this:

OK: healthy and natural skin colour

^OK: skin colour looks healthy and natural

So please take note when you are touching up on your image! Also, please take caution that when you do too much editing to your image, you may accidentally push up the noise details, making it another reason for your image to get rejected. Or, if your image already has high levels of noise before editing, you should really cut down on making only minimal but important edits.