Retouching a dog photograph with Photoshop.

| May 22, 2010 | Comments

One of the most common tasks undertaken with Photoshop is that of photo retouching and editing.  I recently took a striking photo of a dog that was spoiled green line being in the foreground of the photo.   To improve my Photoshop editing skills, I decided to remove the line from the photo and add some dramatic effects to turn it from a mediocre shot into a more eye-catching photograph.

Before (left) and After (right)

This original shot could be improved by using the cloning tool to remove the line, however cloning is not often the best approach for dog hair.  Cloning dog hair can be a tedious and time consuming activity with lack lustre results.  With this photo, I chose to use masking and layering to seamlessly cover the line with digitally fake dog hair. :)

1.  Masking to remove the stick.

The line in the foreground has a light topside & dark bottom side.  To seamlessly recreate the dogs hair above and below the line, I created two layered masks.  The first mask layer was the top of the line with the dog hair above it and the second mask layer was the bottom of the line with the dog hair below.

Masking the bottom half the stick with dogs hair & background

Masking the top half of the stick with dog hair & background

Masking the top half of the stick with dog hair and background

I then pushed the two layers ‘together’ reducing the space I needed to replace with dog hair.

Bringing the two layers together to cover the stick with dog hair.

Finished product without the stick in the foreground.

With a smaller amount of space to cover, I could then mask other pieces of the dogs hair, copy it into top layer and blend with the eraser tool.  This is a lot more efficient process than cloning and produces a more life-like result when dealing with animal hair.  The resulting image without a green line is an improvement on the original photograph, however, the photograph can be made a lot more dramatic!

2. Adding dramatic effects.

Owing to the aggressive stance of this dog, I wanted to create more dramatic effect by:

  • Minimising the distactions in the background (ie. handlers hand & the fence)
  • Brightening the dogs eye, adding intensity to his demeanor
  • Draw the viewers eyes to the teeth and gums of the dog by enhancing the colours.

To brighten the dogs eye & enhance the colours of the teeth and gums, I isolated all these objects in the photograph by masking and creating separate layers.   By creating a separate layer for each object I could modify the brightness, colours and contrast to match the rest of the photograph as I worked on minimising the distractions in background.

For the background, I chose to darken with a custom vignette effect.  This was achieved by:

a) Creating three layers of the photograph.

b) Applying a vignette effect to the top layer, adjusting the settings to hide the handlers hand in darkness & to show a little of the dogs lead.

c) Changing the blend mode on the top layer to Linear Burn.  This adds a dark atmosphere to the image by darking the vignette.

d) Adding a layer mask to the top layer and ‘brushing’ with a white layer mask to reveal the dogs face and body without the Linear Burn effect underneath.  Brushing is achieved by selecting a Photoshop paint brush tool with a softened edge and setting the foreground to black, whilst the background is set to white.

e) Adding the finishing touches by balancing the overall composition of the photograph by adjusting the brightness and contrast of the middle layer.

The finished product!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Graphics, Photography

About the Author ()

Teale Shapcott is a multidisciplinary User Experience expert passionate about making websites, software and intranets easy to use and engaging for people. Teale’s career has spanned 16 years of design experience moving from graphic / web design to user interface design to designing processes and customer experience for corporate intranets. Teale enjoys weaving together different disciplines and perspectives together to solve complex design problems. When she isn’t busy designing great experiences, Teale can be found, camera in hand, looking for beauty, inspiration and fresh perspectives.


  1. Great post.

    Keep up the Great work.

    Only 2 more days until the iPad gets released in Australia ( not that Im counting )

  2. Noble Mosely says:

    Hey, cool website. I actually came across this on Bing, and I am really happy I did. I will definately be revisiting here more often. Wish I could add to the conversation and bring a bit more to the table, but am just absorbing as much info as I can at the moment.

    Thank You

    doggy shoes

  3. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  4. Onie Kiehn says:

    It is nice right here. good study. I have been searched this kind of tips for a time. thanks

  5. Have you ever considered adding more videos to your blog posts to keep the readers more entertained? I mean I just read through the entire article of yours and it was quite good but since I’m more of a visual learner,I found that to be more helpful well let me know how it turns out!

  6. Ted Skalla says:

    Thank you for the tutorial. Will you be writing a new Photoshop tutorial soon?

  7. Teale says:

    I hope to Ted! Thanks :)

  8. […] within Photoshop CS4.    As a result I will begin posting similiar articles to my recent post on improving a dog photograph using Photoshop.  If you want to view larger versions of any of the photographs below, simply click on the […]