Product Retouching: Practical Demonstration

In this photography class Karl demonstrates how to retouch a packshot in Photoshop, making use of the selection tools and layer masks.

Packshots can be a lucrative area of photography, so it’s always worth knowing not only how to photograph them, but also how to quickly and efficiently retouch them to a high standard.

Karl introduces you to using selections, masks and cutouts and clearly demonstrates how we can use these to create and extend a pure white background, as is typical of pack shots.

This simple yet informative tutorial is a great introduction to the various selection tools and provides a detailed explanation of layers and layer masks, and how they can be combined to achieve precise control.

Download the work-along file

In this class:

  • Product retouch demonstration: How to edit packshots in Photoshop
  • Photoshop retouching tips
  • How to create a pure white background in Photoshop
  • Selecting objects in Photoshop
  • Working with layers and layer masks in Photoshop
  • Common Photoshop tools and how to use them
  • Photoshop keyboard shortcuts

To learn more about how to photograph pack shots, make sure to watch our live show and product photography class.

If you have any questions about this course please post them in the comments section below.


    1. Hi, nothing other that demonstrating different ways of doing things or achieving the same goals. There are many ways to do similar things in Photoshop sometimes one is quicker than another but it is better if our audience is aware of them.

    1. Hi, delete will work if my background layer was already pure white but sometimes I’m working with many layers that are different so it’s just my habit of doing it that way.

  1. Hi Karl,
    When i select the area at the beginning which i want to color white with the fill tool this area is not completely filled with white. what is the reason for this?
    With kind regards

    1. Hi, it maybe that your selection area was not complete. For example try selecting a marquee box instead of an auto selection and fill that box with white to check (make sure this is on a new layer and that this layer is at the top of your stack of layers).

  2. Hi Karl.

    i didnt actually get the point of selecting the edges and performing the scale transform stretch thing before cropping. you mentioned something about the gradation but actually i couldnt see your point on my screen.
    so why dont just crop to the required size after painting white ?

    1. Hi Ahmed,
      Karl did that to stretch the bottom third of the picture, as he didn’t paint that part pure white. He threw the opacity of the brush down and the softness up, to keep some of the light gray on the bottom. Then what he did was stretch that patch of graduated gray horizontally to the sides.

  3. Hi Karl, I’m a new member and I’m finding some very useful information. I was wondering would the pen tool be easier and faster? What’s the reason for using the selection tools over the pen tool other than the ease of use?

    1. Hi, you’ll see the pen tool coming into action in plenty of our other PS classes. We like to show different options in different classes so people understand them all.

  4. My Curves panel is displaying blacks and whites opposite of where it should be: Black on top right and whites on bottom left. How did I mess that up and how do I correct it?

    1. In the Curves window (Ctrl+M), there is an option to choose “Show Amount Of: Light or Pigment/Ink” – that flips the axis of black and white.

      For the Curves panel box, click the small menu button for the curves panel, then Curves Display Options, and select Light instead of Pigment/Ink.

      Hope that helps!

  5. Wonderful lesson Karl.
    Just created my very first product image on white background following the relevant parts of this lesson.
    I am sure on professional inspection it would be marked “must try harder” lol but the main thing is I have started.
    I wish you well and now onto the White Headphone on black background challange.

  6. hi, when I selected CTRL+SHIFT+E , all the layers became one layer as you mentioned , but I couldn’t see the layers and the steps layers anymore … is there is a way to keep all the layer visible in the layer panel?…thanks

    1. Hi Peter, I don’t understand? It wouldn’t remove the layers it should just create a new combined layer of all the layers that were visible and put it at the top?

      1. yes that’s right , In your video after you combined all the layers , there was a new layer created while the older layers were still there…but when I did it, I created one new layer but the older ones disappeared

          1. hi Karl, I found what was my issue , I pressed only CTRL+SHIFT+E and I forgot to press on ALT too…I tried it now and it worked…so basically by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+E , I did MERGE-VISIBLE on the layers…thanks

  7. Hi Karl, I have one more question regarding the pack shot post process. My drop shadow reflect effect is of the product in full, pretty much as shown in your shot for this tutorial. While my client asked me to feather into the white that reflection effect. How do I do that?
    Can you advice please

    Thank you !

  8. Thank you Carl, very useful and great the way you went through that.

    1 question though. after the cropping, the image has a non photographic or web aspect ratio.

    what should i do to make it look like the original ratio or if the client ask to have a square image ratio? for example create on the side a new background with the desired aspect ratio and drag the final image into that?

    hope it was clear to you…otherwise will provide image samples..

    again, thank you!!

    1. Hi Luigi, you simply crop to the shape your client requires and then add the background yourself from existing background cloning or stretching. This is covered in another chapter.

        1. David

          Hi Karl,

          I am having trouble understanding one part of the process. Why do we first paint pure white on the unwanted negative fill accessories, then paint on the selection and later do the scaling modification on the two sides of the image and then move the two marquee selected white rectangles further out to the side? I must be missing something but it seem to me that painting the sides of the image is unnecessary. Why not just paint with pure white in the selected background around the product (keeping the slightly off-white part at the bottom) and then do the scaling. I don’t see the point in covering the two sides with white, just to move the selections further out later and then cropping. Please help me understand what is it that I’m missing. Sorry for my sloppy English, I hope it’s understandable.



          1. David

            Sorry, by ‘then paint on the selection, I meant the selection of the background excluding the product.

          2. Hi David, purely for aesthetics so that you can see what the image looks like without the black flags in the way and also as a reference as to what pure white looks like compared to what has been achieved in camera.

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