Practical demonstration on product retouch

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.

You can download the work-along file for this class here.

In this Photoshop class we cover the following:

  • 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 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 ?

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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 !

  7. 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.

  8. Hi Karl, thanks for the video.
    my question is how do i know if I leave a gradient at the bottom or not? the pure white at the bottom, in this case, would look great as well?
    thank youuu

  9. Hi Karl, thanks for the video.
    my question is: how do i know if I have to leave a gradient at the bottom or not? the pure white at the bottom, in this case, would look great as well?
    thank youuu

  10. Hi Karl,
    Do you know why sometimes when I try to use the brush on a layer mask, nothing happen ? I can not find the solution. Thank you

    1. If the mask is black then you need white paint or visa versa. Also check your brush is at full opacity and flow rate and that you don’t have an area selected.

      1. Thank you for replying. I’ve checked that before ask you. But I can see on the layer that it should work, but nothing happen on the picture. The solution I found, is to close PS and restart it… Do you have any other solution ? Thank you

        1. Hi, if you have to restart then you have a bug with your version of PS so I would suggest updating it. All the best Karl.

  11. I Karl! Thank’s for this great tutorial! Love them all!
    Talking about selections and pure white backgrounds, I’d love to see it on a full length portrait. I’m having hard time here with hair. Special with blond hairs 🙁
    Are you considering some tutorial about it? Thanks!
    PS: Sorry for my bad English 🙂

    1. Hi Carla, we have full length portraits in the ‘portrait’ section if that’s what you mean. If you shoot them on pure white then hair cut outs can be automated.

  12. I Karl when you were reajusting your selection could you have used the quick mask to reajust instead of the lasso tool.

    1. Hi Andre, yes masks are always the best way of editing selections as you can go back and forth but sometimes it is appropriate for me to show other tools for demonstration purposes.

  13. Is there a major difference between saving a selection and saving a path? I’ve been saving paths because I didn’t know “save selection” existed before this, lol.

  14. Wow! Thank you Karl and the team for this tutorial. I had to watch it quite a few times for things to sink in, but now it has all become second nature and has help me massively in other aspects of post production and workflow. This is a fantastic way to learn.

    Keep up the good work team
    Andrew Burgess

    1. Hi Akansh, thank you for your email with the screen shot. on my montior I can still see the edge of the product but it may be that when I made the selection and I ‘feathered’ the selection that I set the feathering too many pixels and then as I painted white on the background some of that white may have bled onto the product because of my feather.
      It may also be that the light from the backgrounds has spilled around the products. In such cases I simply take two small pieces of black card and stand them vertically facing the product and move them in closer to the product. The product then picks up the black and it creates a darker edge to the product so that it doesn’t get lost into the background. I will show this technique in a future tutorial.

  15. On the top boundary of the bottle there is some white colour coming or above the label of the pack how can it be fix

  16. Thanks I found it. Just want to say you’re an awesome photographer and instructor. You blew my mind with your skills and instructions. I don’t usually leave comments. Glad I found you on YouTube.

  17. Hi Karl,
    At the very beginning, is the perfect equality of the background’s R, G and B values (e.g., 247/247/247) due to a perfectly made manual white balance before shooting the final images, or it is attained in a preliminary phase of post-processing?
    Provided that we shoot RAW, which way is the most accurate, in this respect: setting the WB manually in camera before / upon shooting or letting the post-processing software do it (like you did in another tutorial using Hasselblad’s proprietary software and a X-Rite color checker)?

  18. Great course Karl. Nice and simple! When doing multiple pack shots you really need a fast process to get products processed quickly. One thing I did notice is people ask a lot of questions for the photography side of the industry but not so much for post processing. Which for me is interesting as I spend the majority of my time in Photoshop. Hopefully less with learning some of your techniques.

  19. loved this as I have been trying to do this for a long time with layers and could never get it right and now I know that I can try this method and get it right thank you so much and im looking forward to the rest of the course.

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