Commercial Retouching Workflow With Sef McCullough

Commercial Retouching Workflow With Sef McCullough

3 Seasons

Sef McCullough shares the post-production workflow which has made him one of the world's leading high-end retouchers. Sef reveals for the first time his bullet-proof approach and advanced techniques to change the way you retouch. This tutorial will improve your skills and give you the understanding of how to deliver high-end commercial images to your clients.

High-end commercial retouchers often keep their methods and workflow as a well-guarded secret in order to stay ahead of the competition. Sef McCullough is on the leading edge of commercial retouching with his mastery of Photoshop. As one of the world’s most sought after digital artists, Sef’s workflow has been taught to only a handful of his peers. Sef has partnered with us to bring you his workflow and an in-depth look at many of his techniques in this incredible tutorial, “Commercial Retouching Advanced Workflow.” If you are wanting to learn advanced post-production techniques combined with a bullet proof workflow, this tutorial will be your game changer. We combine both a product shoot and a lifestyle shoot to prove to you that an advanced commercial workflow can be applied to any image and the subject matter doesn't actually matter.

Commercial Retouching Workflow With Sef McCullough
  • Sef McCullough Biography

    Episode 1

    Welcome to Commercial Retouching with retoucher, Sef McCullough. To begin this training series, hear first hand how Sef entered the industry of high end commercial retouching. As the evolution of software and technology progressed, hear Sef's pursuit of higher level retouching, working with some ...

  • The Client Brief

    Episode 2

    Join high end retoucher, Sef McCullough and photographer, Adam Levy, in a real world creative brief. Listen as Sef works to establish the intention, motivation and ultimate direction for a creative campaign featuring the Nike Air Max athletic shoe. Learn not just the definition of a creative brie...

  • Setting Up Your Workspace

    Episode 3

    With the creative brief established, follow the road map with high end retoucher, Sef McCullough. In this first step of the process, learn best practices to establish a clean, logical workspace in Photoshop. Learn from an experienced pro, how to optimize the right tools in an organized way, so th...

  • RAW Processing

    Episode 4

    After establishing a clean workspace in Photoshop, jump over to Capture One. Learn the importance of using a camera RAW module to process RAW image data. Establish best practices to apply quality assurance to the images you retouch, every single time. Learn how to restore valuable data, creating ...

  • Shaping

    Episode 5

    Every step to this point in the workflow has been to prepare the image for retouching. With a creative map, efficient workspace, and balanced RAW processing, begin retouching the Nike Air Max athletic shoe in Photoshop. With this first step, learn best practices for shaping the shoe. Leverage the...

  • Clipping and Isolation

    Episode 6

    Step by step, advance through the retouching process, methodically following the road map established by the creative brief. In this section, learn the best practices for isolation in Photoshop. Leverage the power of creating paths using Photoshop's pen tool. Create paths around and inside of the...

  • File Setup

    Episode 7

    Learning to isolate and clip can be daunting. Continue to follow high end retoucher, Sef McCullough, as he establishes clean workflow and best practices in complex workflows. With a library of paths set up, learn a method called tiered masking. Learn a different method, using pixel layers to elim...

  • Markup

    Episode 8

    As you progress through the organization of the retouching process, learn how to identify all of the problem areas and distractions within an image like this. Walk through and dissect the Nike Air Max athletic shoe, using markup to note and define the areas of interest to smooth out the shoe and ...

  • Cleanup

    Episode 9

    After completing the markup stage, move into cleaning up the Nike Air Max athletic shoe. Focus on textural detail as well as larger areas of value and hue. Follow high end retoucher, Sef McCullough, in a more advanced method of frequency separation. Using an advanced texture cleanup process, over...

  • Contouring

    Episode 10

    With a more advanced method of frequency separation as part of your toolset, transition to the contouring phase of retouching. Utilize the power of Photoshop's curve tools, to dodge and burn your image for creating subtle, smooth rolloff that adds dimension. Learn to dynamically optimize the work...

  • Background

    Episode 11

    Cleanup is a massive task in high end retouching. And this is the highest end workflow to establish the most creative freedom. With the complex technical phase of the process complete, move into the creative exploration of retouching. Shift hue and saturation to create a different body color on t...

  • Shadow
    Episode 12


    Episode 12

    At this stage, utilize an action to create a convincing shadow cast on the custom background that you've created. Use the power of curves and hue/saturation layering for a convincing color build. Adjust luminosity and hue in a separate and organized way. Manipulate white and black points, creatin...

  • Creative Elements-Bubble Sole

    Episode 13

    Begin to integrate some of the finer details in the retouch, adding creative elements to the bubble sole of the athletic shoe. Use flares that were shot by photographer, Adam Levy, and integrate them into the product story. Jump back over from Photoshop to Capture One, and select the best exposur...

  • Color Grade

    Episode 14

    Using paths, curves, and groups, learn to color grade and add additional lighting effects to bring the Nike Air Max athletic shoe closer to a finished look. Utilized the organization from the early stages of the retouching process and leverage the power of masks. Work through the length of the sh...

  • Workflow-Finishing

    Episode 15

    Before sending the image off for round 1 review, use a couple of finishing moves to bring the entire creative image together. Using high-pass and some grain across the surface of the shoe, create a consistent, finished surface. Learn do develop a process for finishing with subtle details to set y...

  • File Prep for Send Off

    Episode 16

    With the first round of retouching complete, learn best practices for sending files to your client. Learn the advantage of using prepared actions, that duplicate and flatten your image. Prepare the image into a review ready format, with optimum compression settings and send the file using standar...

  • First Review

    Episode 17

    With the first round of retouching sent to the client, watch a real world client interaction, between retoucher, Sef McCullough and photographer, Adam Levy. Watch a live breakdown and discussion about assessing current work, pushing the creative further, taking client feedback, and developing a p...

  • First Revisions

    Episode 18

    With fresh notes from the creative brief, work with high end retoucher, Sef McCullough, to execute the notes from the first review. Using the markup notes from the call, begin to incorporate the feedback into the working file. Begin with the most intensive notes and work forward to refine the cre...

  • Second Review

    Episode 19

    With the first round of revisions complete, observe as high end retoucher, Sef McCullough, works through a second live review to go over the image progress. In the review, watch as the photograph gives detailed notes on the color, lighting effects and refines his vision. Listen as Sef, asks point...

  • Second Revisions

    Episode 20

    After the second round review, learn to adapt with ongoing notes, use the information a client gives you, as well as decipher sometimes confusing information, common to creative collaboration. Address the second round of notes focusing on honing colors, creating more subtlety and realism with the...

  • Final Delivery

    Episode 21

    After receiving final approval from the client, apply the final changes to create a commercial deliverable image. Integrate a new shadow for more speed and shape. Using high pass, smart objects and filters, quickly iterate through the final notes. Finish the final pass of retouching a create a cl...