An important step to every commercial product or still life image making is post-production. More precisely, retouching. And retouching can be made much more easier if you take the time, at the start, to make a plan of everything you need to do in order for your image to be complete. Today, I’ve made available to you an action that sets everything up so that you can start putting that plan together in a split-second.

What It Does

The steps is accomplishes

It’s a very simple action, but it takes away some of the tediousness and repetitiveness that comes with producing a plan. Firstly, the automation will create a new blank layer, name it “Plan” and put it at the top of all (presumably, only one) other layers. I would recommend leaving your plan layer always as the topmost. Also, the action sets up the brush tool with a size of 19px, a hardness of 50% and a color of #fc00ff, a vibrant pink that you sure won’t miss. A split-second after you clicked the “Play selection” button in the Actions panel, you can start planning.

How I Use It

The choice for the powerful colour is not arbitrary; is has been chosen so that you will be able see what you wrote against pretty much every background and so that it really stands out. To make the plan, I always list all the steps I’m thinking I’ll need to do at the right of the layer. I use the shortest word possible and use abbreviations when possible (for example, DB is “Dodge & Burn” and FS stands for “Frequency Separation”). Furthermore, I will circle every part of the photo that I can quickly see that needs touch up work and if I hoop a large part and draw an upward or downward arrow besides it, that means that I should bring up or down that area in exposure. Finally, if I draw a line along an edge, that means that it either needs to be straighten or fix using the Liquify tool or smoothen with something like the Clone Stamp Tool. When I’m done with something, I select the “Plan” layer, take the Eraser tool and simply get rid of that step. To be clear, the layer is off most of the time of I only have it on when I need to look at it for reference. A Wacom tablet is almost a need if you want to be able to write onto the image. If you don't have one, you can use the Text tool but it takes much more time.

What a typical plan layer might look like

In my opinion, the plan is not intended to show me every single steps I need to take but rather to guide me through the retouching session, that can lasts for hours. It should not limit you in the things you need to do; don’t be blocked by it to not accomplish a step you think could help your image.

Along with the last dust retouching curve action, this little tool should help you set up processes to help you in your retouching. They take the tediousness out of those two little steps.