The basic principles of photo editing – rules to live by

 

Keeping these basic principals of photo editing in mind will help you edit your photos with confidence. Whether it’s learning how to crop properly or understanding the importance of how and when to retouch photos, follow these rules and your work will look sharper, more detailed and retain its quality.

Never edit the original

It’s important to make a copy of the image you’re working on, firstly as a backup and secondly so you can go back and work on it again if you don’t like your edits or want to try a wholly different approach. Likewise, it’s vital to use layers when making edits while using photo editing software, leaving the underlying image untouched. This way you’ll always have a quick and easy reference point to see what the original looked like before you started tweaking colors, retouching specific areas and playing with contrast.

Crop out what you don’t need

Cropping is one of the most basic tools found within photo editing software, but it’s also one of the most powerful. Learning how to use it properly will ensure you get rid of parts of an image that do not help tell a story, while emphasizing those that do. That can mean dropping large backgrounds from portrait or wildlife photography, or using specific sizes and aspect ratios to make a shot look tightly edited. A 6:5 ratio works well, with an image measuring 600 pixels across. Square crops are a striking alternative.

Retain perspective and maintain quality when resizing

This might sound simple, but it’s vital to keep the same dimensions when resizing, or scaling, an image. That means that the width and height dimensions must stay the same to retain perspective and stop an image becoming warped or stretched. Enlarging images over 100 per cent will lead to them becoming pixelated, although it is possible to resize an image without losing quality by resampling. This changes the number of pixels in an image. You can also change the resolution within photo editing software to change the quality of the final image – web images tend to be at a lower resolution than print quality ones, for example.

Don’t overdo retouching

Learning how to retouch skin and other aspects of an image is one of the most fun parts of photo editing. Mastering spot healing and clone tools can quickly clean up pictures and make them look a lot neater. However, such functions should be used sparingly. Overusing retouching techniques in portraits can quickly make subjects appear unrealistic, while too much cloning can make landscapes appear otherworldly, especially if you’re aiming to maintain a natural look. This rule applies to color and saturation too. Overdoing these can make an image look overly edited, leading you to return to the original and start again.

It's worth noting that all Wacom pen tablets offer pressure sensitivity which means that you have greater control when it comes to stroke width, opacity and intensity.

Make sure your screen is calibrated

Learning how to calibrate your monitor for editing is an essential part of taking your photo manipulation skills to the next level. This can be done through your computer, or via dedicated hardware that assesses your screen to ensure that the colors you see on your display are perfect. That means you won’t experience any issues when printing pictures, only to find colors do not match on the page.

Picture perfect editing. Get started with Wacom Intuos Pro.

Wacom Intuos Pro is the perfect companion for better photo editing. This sleek tablet comes with the super-sensitive Wacom Pro Pen 2, enabling you to hone the finest details of your pictures. Built from premium materials and rigorously tested to professional standards, Wacom Intuos Pro is a sure step towards excellence in photo editing.

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