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CGI Retouching Vs. Photography Image Editing

3rd May 2022   /   5 minute read

CGI Retouching Vs. Photography Image Editing

In 2022, CGI is already changing the world of image creation and photography. 

CGI entails that most of the image was composed with computer-generated techniques. With CGI, you’re just simulating real-life photos. 

Photography entails that there was no CGI involved, just photo editing may take place. The camera captures real-life, natural lights, and real situations in traditional photography. 

CGI offers vast benefits, and it allows you to showcase products or services in ways that traditional photography can't. This does not mean that you have to choose between photography and CGI. Instead, you can take the best of both worlds and use a mixture of real photography and CGI.

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Photography, CGI, and image editing should be used to enhance each other. This procedure is called Hybrid CGI. The resulting images combine the best of the real and virtual worlds. This type of image creation is already used in many areas.

Before you decide between CGI, photography, and image editing or hybrid images, please take a look at the five significant differences in retouching CGI renderings vs. traditionally photography photos:

1. Imperfections

In image editing, you usually correct specific physical characteristics from the product photography, like imperfections, removing dust, and cleaning up the background. The retouchers handle everything from minor touch-ups to more extensive Photoshop work like redness removal, teeth whitening, liquifying, and removing marks or blemishes when retouching fashion images. 

In CGI, the opposite approach is taken. Frequently, a CGI image will look too perfect and fake, so you need to add some imperfections to make it more realistic. 

2. Reality vs. perfection

Photographed images always contain what retouchers call “noise,” such as funky colors or graininess. The “noise” contributes to the realness of the picture. A significant part of image editing is removing unwanted “noise” (like imperfections, scratches, dust, reflections), but the “noise” also contributes to the realness of the image.

It is the exact opposite of CGI images that often seem too perfect.

Adding a certain amount of noise enhances the realistic impression. However, a good retoucher knows that this additional noise needs not to look uniform or fake, so image editing is required.

3. Shadows and highlights

Shadow areas in photography usually have a more tonal range and are richer than CGI. Conversely, in CGI, the shadow areas have less range, highlights are richer, and contain more colors and tones than in photography. This difference is evident in print products. Therefore, it requires a different approach to retouching shadows and highlights in CGI and photography.

4. Creation and variety

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No matter how many photos you take of the same object, they will look slightly different in traditional photography. 

CGI allows you to change and add details, and there are no limits to creativity. CGI rendering takes time, but it will enable retouchers to build up the image layer by layer and then take it apart more easily.

You can make changes quickly in post-production for both CGI images and traditional photography.

This issue is resolved in CGI with render passes. Render passes are essentially the individual layers of the CGI rendering, and these allow our retouchers to take the image apart more easily. Want only to target the ambient light, highlights, direct light of the image, shadows, or color? There are individual render passes for each of these aspects and more. And yes, you can do that with traditional photography as well, but it involves a lot more steps. In CGI, the render passes are already isolated, making it easier to focus your attention on one aspect at a time.

5 . Consistency and color changes

CGI has a considerable advantage when it comes to color changes and consistency. In addition, because CGI is just a simulation, you have a much greater range of adjustments to play with. 

You can take multiple photos of that same product in traditional photography, but with different results. 

For a retoucher, it is easier to move the color around in a CGI render than it is with a traditionally photographed image. 

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Why should you try hybrid CGI?

CGI provides ways to reduce costs and create images in a fraction of the time otherwise required. Cost factors like travel, production, location, equipment, photographers, and a team are eliminated. In addition, risk factors such as bad weather during outdoor shootings are no longer an issue. 

In advertising images, it also often happens that products physically do not exist yet, here CGI comes in handy.

On the other hand, elements that would be too time-consuming to create in CGI can be integrated with traditional photography. 

Need help with your photography or CGI projects? Request a quote, and we will get back to you quickly.


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