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Editing & Clipping Your Jewelry Photos

In this article we’ll go over why you should edit your jewelry photos before posting them online as well as how to clip them and the best fr

In this article, we’ll go over why you should edit your jewelry photos before posting them online as well as how to clip them with the best free software options available!

The Editing Difference

You’ve spent many hours on making your latest line of jewelry. You’ve spent another bunch setting up and completing a photoshoot of the new pieces. Now all you have to do is post them online, right?

Wrong!

While your photos can look great right after you snap them, especially on phones where complex algorithms do many basic adjustments behind the scenes, spending even just a little bit of time on editing the photos before posting them online can take them from good to amazing.

To illustrate I want you to look at the photos below. 

RAW Image

This first photo is right off a DSLR camera in RAW format (some smartphones have the ability to save in this format). RAW is a file type (think JPG) that saves more data than a JPG and therefore allows you greater latitude when editing your photos. As you can see, even though the piece is well lit the image is rather dark and under saturated.

Raw image of bee charm with a succulent

Raw image without edits

 

 

Add Basic Edits

Now we’ll show you the same photo with basic adjustments of things like brightness, contrast, and color. Already you can see a huge improvement in the look and feel of the image compared to the one before. If you were taking the same photo with your phone’s automatic camera settings, the photos should be similar due to your phone doing the basic adjustments already.

Basic edits: Image with no edits of a bee charm

Raw image without edits

Basic edits: Image with basic edits of a bee charm

Image with basic edits

 

Make It Pop

The third photo is after more edits. Now this photo is a scroll stopper, the bright and vibrant colors are sure to catch any social media users' eye as they scroll through their feed. Here we’ve spot healed some dust and spots on the succulents to remove distractions as well as adding more brightness, contrast, and saturation. A filter was also added to give the photo set a distinct feel compared to the rest of our themed photos. Filters are a great way to give your brand and social media a cohesive look. If used consistently, social media users will automatically and subconsciously mark the photo as yours just by the feel of it, which is exactly what you want.

Make it pop: Image with no edits of a bee charm

Raw image without edits

Make it pop: Image with basic edits of a bee charm

Image with basic edits

Image with full edits of a bee charm

Image with full edits & filter

How to Edit Your Jewelry Photos

Now that we’ve illustrated how much editing can make a difference on your jewelry photos, we’ll go over some simple steps that can make a huge difference. I’ll walk you through the steps as I edit one of our photos so you can see the process and the changes that occur. This is a product photo of gold-filled beads using a potted succulent as a seasonal prop. The jewelry photo I chose has an abundance of issues, including lots of gunk and debris from the soil in the plant. By using such an extreme case it should be easier for you to know what steps you’ll need to take when it comes to working on your own photos.

These steps may look overwhelming at first. But in as little as 6 minutes (or even less once you get the hang of it) spent in total on editing you will see a huge difference in your final images.

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Step 1: Brightness & Contrast   

Time - 1 minute or less

This is the most basic of edits and probably one of the more critical since it gets you to the starting point for other edits. If your photo is overexposed (too bright), you’ll want to bring down the brightness. If it is underexposed (too dark like the photo below), you’ll want to bring up the brightness. Most photos can also use a bump up in contrast. How much depends on both the photo and your personal taste, just remember not to overdo it. Toggle back and forth between the original and the updated version as you work on it to make sure you haven’t gone too far with the edits. While you can post after doing brightness and contrast, as discussed in the section before, more tweaking on your jewelry photography can make you stand out in the crowd!

Image with no edits of beads on a succulent

Raw image without edits

Image with brightness and contrast edits of beads on a succulent

Image with Basic Edits

 

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Step 2: Color Correction/White Balance

Time - 1 minute (May be more if you are new to color correcting)

While important, this step is sometimes not needed. Smartphones and DSLRs have gotten extremely good at color correcting your photos when taking the shot but depending on the situation they can be off by quite a bit. Take the photo we are currently working on, it looks pretty good color-wise, right? For most people, I would say it’s good and go ahead and move on to the next step, but if we are being finicky, the color is slightly off with a bit of a yellow cast. As you can see below by removing the yellow cast the succulent now pops a bit more in color.

Image with no edits of beads on a succulent

Raw image without edits

Image with brightness and contrast edits of beads on a succulent

Image with Basic Edits

Image with color correction edits of beads on a succulent

Image with Color Correction

undefined There are many ways to fix color that range from extremely simple to extremely complex. The most basic (besides using an Auto White Balance option) is adjusting the Temperature (Blues & Yellows) and Tint (Greens and Purples). This method was used to fix the image above by adding more blues in the Temperature setting and more greens in the Tint.

If you are having a hard time seeing the differences above, below is an image that needs extreme color correcting. As you can see it has an extremely yellow-green color cast.

Uncorrected image of wave charm on seashell

Image with no Color Correction

 

 

In cases like this, what you’ll want to make the changes bit by bit. Start off with what you know – the image looks too yellow. The green cast is hard to discern at this point, but you do know you need more blue. So first you’ll drag the Temperature slider to the blues section. Once you get to the point that the image is starting to look too blue but the color is still off you know you need to work on the tint. Adjust the Temperature so the image is before the too blue point and move over to the Tint.

Uncorrected image of wave charm on seashell - No temperature correction

Image with no Color Correction

Temperature corrected image of wave charm on seashell

Image with Temperature Correction

 

Now that the Temperature has been adjusted, it’s easier to see that there is now a green cast to the image. In the Tint settings add more purple to the image until it looks true to life. You may need to make small adjustments back and forth in the Temperature & Tint sliders to get the perfect combination.

As you can see below, by adding more blues in the Temperature and purples in the Tint the image has drastically improved.

Uncorrected image of wave charm on seashell - no temperature or tint correction

Image with no Color Correction

Temperature corrected image of wave charm on seashell - no tint correction

Image with Temperature Correction

Temperature & Tint corrected image of wave charm on seashell

Image with Temperature & Tint Correction

If you feel the Temperature/Tint method is just not cutting it you do have other options. The Curves fix is more complex but offers greater control over what areas are color corrected. Let’s say you have an image where everything looks good except the shadows seem to have too much blue in them. You could use the Temperature/Tint method, but that will just adjust the whole image and you’ll have to spend time masking out the areas you don’t want to be affected.

Curves tool snapshot Using the Curves tool you’ll be able to target the Lights, Midtones, and Darks of an image directly and adjust their RGB (reds, greens, & blues) levels. The lower left point adjusts the shadows, while the upper right adjusts the highlights. If you wanted to add blues to any point, you would move those points towards the upper left corner. If you wanted to remove blues (aka add yellow) you would move the points towards the lower right corner. Therefore if you wanted to remove blue from the shadows of your image, you would move the lower-left point to the right, as seen in the image. You can create new points anywhere in between on the line to adjust the mid-tones accordingly.

Tip 1 - Sometimes your eyes become biased to color as you edit so a good way to see if you've done a good job or have gone too far is to walk away for a few minutes then come back to the photo. Your eyes will now be adjusted to the real world and will let you know if your jewelry photo has been over corrected or not. 

Tip 2 - Adjust your monitor color. While modern monitors do a better job making colors more true to life, your monitor may still be off. Look for tutorials on how to correctly adjust your monitor and do so as you are ending the day. Your eyes will be biased on the color (like as discussed with Tip 1) and will look off after you've corrected it so by doing this at the end of the day, you'll start the next day with the correct coloring that you won't feel looks off. 

Tip 3 - If you want to take the guess work out of color correcting, you can buy a gray card. These provide a neutral gray in your jewelry photos that you can use as a point of reference when you go to fix the white balance. Place the card with the jewelry setup at the beginning of each new lighting setup (so if the lighting never changes, you don't need to worry about getting multiple gray card shots). When you start to color correct, most programs offer an eyedropper tool in the White Balance editor that will allow you to select the gray card as the neutral spot. If you move the eyedropper tool around you can see how hovering over differently areas of the image affects the color cast. If you hover over a blue spot, the overall image will take on a yellow tone in order to make the blue spot appear gray. So with the gray card, you know you'll always be giving the eyedropper tools a perfectly neutral gray spot to work with. Once you've selected the neutral gray, you'll be able to see what the exact adjustments you'll need to make for the rest of your photos. You might need to make these adjustments by hand (so write down the adjustment numbers), but some programs will let you apply the edits from the last photo you worked on (which is a great time saver!)

3_Adjustments-Cover.jpg

Step 3: Editing Your Jewelry Photography for More Impact

Time - 1 to 3 minutes (depending on your aesthetic preferences)

While brightness and contrast are universal, but depending on what editing program you are using (I will be using Photoshop for this blog) the terms and techniques can vary. This step is one of those cases. Some editing programs may use a tool called Luminance in place of some of the terms in this section. In the Camera Raw panel there are sliders to adjust the Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks of an image. Much like the Curves tool to the White Balance Tool, these act like a more fine-tuned version of the Exposure tool (though you can definitely use them together). 

Image correction sliders The best method is to lower the Highlights and Blacks while increasing the Shadows and Whites. I’ve found that working in increments helps to add oomph to the image without overblowing the pieces. So instead of trying to get the image bright like I want on the first try, I’ll use this method and apply the adjustments two or three times.

 

Image with 3 small adjustments of edits of beads on a succulent

3 Small Adjustments

Image with 1 large adjustment of edits of beads on a succulent

1 Large Adjustment

 

 So now you can see the difference from Beginning to Step 2 to Step 3 in how much more your image now pops.

Image with no edits of beads on a succulent

Raw image without edits

Image with color correction edits of beads on a succulent

Image with Color Correction

Image edited for more oomph of beads on a succulent

Image with More Oomph

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Step 4: How to Use Masks When Editing Jewelry Photos

Time - 1 to 10 minutes (depending on complexity of piece/s)

As you may have noticed in the final image in the step above, while the image overall looks good, our poor little beads are now overblown. You can barely even see the gold tone of the product. We have seen this many times on social media where the overall image has been edited to look good but in doing so the jewelry item is then washed out. There are two ways to combat this issue and both involve masking.

What is masking you ask? Let’s say you want the beads in the image to look silver instead of gold-filled. The easiest solution is to desaturate the image. But now you’ve also desaturated the succulent and that looks weird.

Closeup of gold-filled beads on succulent

Original Image

Black & white closeup of gold-filled beads on succulent

Image with Desaturation Layer

 

So basically you want the desaturation to only effect the beads. To do that you will use a mask on the desaturation layer.

Closeup of gold-filled beads on succulent

Original Image

Closeup of gold-filled beads that have now been desaturated on succulent

Image with masked Desaturation Layer

 

In short, a mask effects how much and where the layer it is attached to (such as our desaturation layer) is seen. Below is what the desaturation layer’s mask looks like compared to the final product. As you can see, even though the mask is somewhat sloppy (if you just saw the image of the mask, you would never guess it was for beads), the sloppiness is hard to see in the final product. In some cases this can work, in others you’ll need to be more precise, it all depends on what image you are working on and what effect you are attempting to accomplish. Black hides the effect layer (so the succulent is not effected by the desaturation) while white allows the effect layer to show through (therefore making our beads silver). Masks aren't just black and white either. Lighter grays allow most but not all of the effect layer to show in those areas, while darker grays allow only a small percentage of the effect to show.

After creating your effect layer (in this case the desaturation layer), you will then move on to masking that layer. I suggest looking up how to access the masking options for the program you are working on, unfortunately the ways of bringing up the masking option is very varied between programs. 

After setting up the mask option, you will now use a brush to specify which areas you want the effect to show through and which areas you want the effect to be hidden. In this case since we wanted only the beads to be effected, we first filled the layer with black (to hide the effect), then used a feathered white brush to brush over where the beads are to let the effect show through. An easy way mask out your piece is to outline the item (as discussed in the clipping section at the end of this article) and then fill in the outline. Since the beads were so small in the example image I just used a medium sized brush to make the beads' general shapes instead of the outline method (hence the sloppy look of the mask.)

Closeup of gold-filled beads that have now been desaturated on succulent

Image with masked Desaturation Layer

Desaturation layer mask

Desaturation Layer Mask

 

So how does this help you with fixing an overblown jewelry piece? To keep your piece from being overblown you’ll either need to 1. Mask out the edits you have worked on thus far to fix the overall image or 2. Add new edits that only affect the jewelry piece in question.

My preferred method is to start masking out the items as I go along so I won’t have more steps down the road. Once the edits get to the point where the jewelry pieces are overblown I’ll start to mask out the jewelry (or even pieces of the jewelry) so everything looks nice for the final product.

Sometimes the items overblown from the start and you’ll need to add fixes anyway. For this image the beads were not only overexposed, but also the gold coloring was washed out. To fix this we’ll lower the exposure on the bright spots and add a color overlay to all the pieces to bring back that nice gold-filled look.

Closeup of gold-filled beads on succulent

Beads with More Oomph

Closeup of gold-filled beads that have been edited on succulent

Beads with Masked Layer Edits

 

You’ll really want to get comfortable with masking because it’s always a good rule of thumb to desaturate your silver jewelry products. Silver really tends to reflect the environment and when that happens it no longer looks silver which can be confusing to your customers. When your silver is on a plain white background or in a position where it’s not reflecting something from its immediate environment (like when the silver is facing you) you’ll want to desaturate it completely. In cases like the image below where the beads are reflecting the orange of the pot you won’t need to desaturate the orange reflections completely but doing so slightly can help the silver stand out from the background.  

Sterling Silver beads on terra-cotta pot

 Beads with no Desaturation Layer

Sterling Silver beads that have been slightly desaturated on terra-cotta pot

 Beads with semi-transparent Desaturation Layer

 

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Step 5: Spot Healing/Healing Brush 

Time - 1 to 10 minutes (depending on how much you feel needs to be edited out)

This is another step that you might not need but can be extremely useful. Spot healing is a tool that removes image defects such as dust, debris, someone who was walking in the background of a model shot, or even your camera’s reflection in the jewelry piece. Healing works by filling in the trouble spot to match the surrounding area.  

One of the reasons why I chose the photo I did was to really illustrate how helpful the tool can be and the difference it can make on a jewelry photo. The image would be nice except for the fact that the succulent is absolutely covered in dirt which makes it hard for a customer to focus on the jewelry. To put it simply, the dirt in the photo is distracting.  

Closeup of succulent that shows the healing brush tool working on a dirt spot

To use the spot healing brush you’ll want to make the area you brush on slightly larger than the thing you are trying to heal out. In the photo to the left you can see the black spot – that is the brush area. It is covering a huge white spot that you can somewhat see beneath the brush which is the thing we are trying to heal out. As you can see the brush area extends just beyond the spot – and remember you don’t need to be perfect on this. When it is done the spot should blend in with the surrounding area.  

Now you can see what the image looked like before and after using the spot healing tool. What a difference it makes! 

Image of beads on a succulent before healing brush

Image with More Oomph

Image of beads on a succulent after healing brush

Image with Spot Healing

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Step 6: Cropping Your Jewelry Images

Time - 1 minute

Now the photo we’ve been working on is a nice shot of gold-filled beads, but they get lost when you’re looking at the entire image. You see them but by showing so much of the photo they are not the focus like you want them to be. That means you’ll need to crop in the image to force the beads to be the main focus. Square is a great format since it is very versatile. It not only works great across all social media platforms, it tends to be the main format for the product listings on many eCommerce website designs as well.  

Rule of thirds crop overlay There are two simple formats that you can use as reference to crop your photo – have your item be dead in the center or use the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds basically divides the image into thirds and when cropping. You’ll want your item to fall either on one of the lines or on an intersection of two of the lines, as shown to the left. 

As you can see below the beads are now more of the focal point after the image has been cropped. 

Image of beads on a succulent before cropping

Image with Spot Healing

Image of beads on a succulent after cropping

Image after Cropping

 

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Step 7: Adding a Filter to Your Jewelry Photos 

Time - 1 to 10 minutes (it will be shorter if you know what filter you want and longer if you are playing around trying to see what works best)

Congrats! You are now on the final step of the basics of editing your photos! 

As I said in the beginning adding a filter to your images is a great way to make them not only look cohesive, but more recognizable on social media. Instagram has plenty of filters, but if none of them suit you, most editing programs and other photo apps you can download have a plethora of filters that you can choose from. Choose a style that matches your branding and stick to it!  

As you can see below our image has come a long way. The first is the image without editing, the second is with basic editing, and the third is with everything to show how everything comes together! 

Image with no edits of beads on a succulent

Raw image without edits

Image with brightness and contrast edits of beads on a succulent

Image with basic edits

 Image with full edits and filter of beads on a succulent covered

Image with full edits & filter

Tip - Once you are done editing all your photos, look over the final images as a group. This way you can make sure all the images are cohesive - some images may have turned out different than the rest and this is the best way to see where the issues are and correct them.

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Clipping Your Jewelry Images 

Time - 1 to 10 minutes (depending on complexity of piece/s)

Clipping is the process of removing the background from your image, leaving only the jewelry piece showing. If you look at our website, you’ll see that all our item images have been clipped out and are shown on a pure white background.  

There are several reasons why we clip our item images, some of which include: 

  1. Jewelry items will look more professional on a pure white background 
  2. Customers have an easier time browsing through the thousands of listings since there are no distracting background elements 
  3. Clipping makes it easier to use the images for advertising and in our catalog 
  4. Props are often seasonal or trendy so staged images can quickly feel outdated

Since clipping is a laborious step, many jewelry artists use an outsourced clipping company. Cost can range from $.25 to over $6 per image depending on the complexity of the item being clipped. Most clipping service providers will have your images finished within 24hrs. You can shop around with the different companies to see which will suit your needs better. 

If you don’t want to spend the money on getting the items clipped, you can clip them yourself with different editing platforms. You’ll be basically making a mask (see Step 4 in the previous section) of the background to remove it. Unlike on Step 4, you’ll want to be very precise for this one. You’ll also want the brush to be harder/less feathered (unless your item is blurry in certain spots) so that you’ll have nice hard lines along the edge of your piece. 

Brush Method for Clipping Jewelry Photos to a White Background

One method is to make an outline of the item using the brush tool. This method is the most versatile between platforms and is the best method to use while on mobile apps. The smaller your brush size the more precise your lines will be. If your piece has a cutout spot (think jump ring or hole) you’ll also need to draw around the edge of that so the background that can be seen through the cutout spot can be clipped out as well. After you are done making the outline you’ll need to fill in the rest of the mask, which I do using the Paint Bucket in Photoshop. For other platforms you may need to keep using the brush tool until you have filled the entire area in.  

A good tip is to hold down the Shift key (on a computer) as you click around the jewelry piece. This will give you nice straight lines between where you click. When you encounter rounded spots you’ll want to click closer together whereas in straight spots you can click farther apart. 

Brush tool: Sterling Silver shell charm

Original Image

Sterling Silver shell charm with brush outline

Brush Outline

Sterling Silver shell charm with red mask

Brush Outline with Fill

Sterling Silver shell charm that has been clipped

Masked Image

Pen Tool Method for Clipping Jewelry Photos to a White Background

Another clipping method is to use the pen tool. You'll still outline the item just like with the brush method, but this time you won’t need to worry about issues stemming from using a brush tool such as opacity and feathering. To make the lines curved, click where you want the point to be then drag to give you the curve handles. When you are done you can use the Direct Selection tool to adjust the points and curve handles until you are happy with the result. Once you are done you can apply the path as a mask to the image (some programs may require you to fill the path which you can then apply to the mask.) 

Pen tool: Sterling Silver shell charm

Original Image

Sterling Silver shell charm with partial pen outline

Image with partial Pen Tool Outline

Sterling Silver shell charm with full pen outline

Image with full Pen Tool Outline

Sterling Silver shell charm that has been clipped

Masked Image

One thing I do want to point out – in the original photo the item looked fine, but once it was clipped the reflection of the yellow really stands out. This illustrates the importance of desaturating sterling silver items completely when they are clipped out. 

Auto Select or Auto Clipping  

We generally don’t use these editing tools on jewelry items due to the fact that jewelry tends to reflect its surroundings and therefore the program has a hard time distinguishing what is jewelry and what is background. This option could work on dark or patinaed silver or non-silver jewelry that is photographed on a light background as long as there are distinct edges (aka no reflections blending into the background). 

Saving Your Jewelry Photo Files 

We always save the working files (which would be PSDs in this case since we use Photoshop) so we always have access to the clipping paths and original image so if there is ever a mistake, we can easily go back in and fix it. It also allows us to easily place a high-resolution version of the clipped image in whatever situation we need it in. If you need the clipped image for the web or don’t need the working file for whatever you’re working on, PNG is a great file type that has a small file size while keeping the background transparency.  

Free Editing Programs 

Photoshop & Lightroom are the most common photo editing software. We know that these can be expensive (even with the lowest monthly Adobe subscription available for them) and that you have other expenses you need to worry about, so we’ve compiled a list of free software that you can use instead.  

  1. Pixlr 
    This web-based software is very similar to Photoshop with many similar tools and features. The interface is simple and intuitive, making it easier for newer users to get editing quickly. It does include ads, but depending on how good you are at blocking them out they should be no issue.  

  2. Adobe Photoshop Express 
    While this version is watered down compared to the full Photoshop program, this is still a great program to do quick and easy edits on your photos. You can use this program on both the web and as a mobile app. 

  3. GIMP 
    GIMP has long been the free opensource competitor to Photoshop, offering many of the same features and perks. You can change the interface and download plugins for the software so you can customize the program to your needs. But like Photoshop it can be overwhelming, especially if you are just starting with editing your jewelry photos. 

  4. Snapseed 
    This mobile-only application includes many in-depth editing features (such as masking) with an easy to use interface. Available for both android and apple 

These editors are the more in-depth programs we’ve found that are free. There are many more free apps and programs that offer less features but may work better for you if all you need is simple and quick fixes. 


Want to learn more jewelry photography tips? Check out these helpful articles.

The Art of the Jewelry Selfie

Photographing Jewelry on Models

How to Photograph Jewelry on a White Background

Halstead can help you build your small jewelry business.

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