Retouching and manipulating photographs is done with fancy photo-editing programs these days, but back in 1946, making adjustments required a lot more than a computer, some software, and some pointing-and-clicking skills. Retouching required a whole box of tools, a very sharp eye, and an extremely steady hand.
Last year, Gene Gable of CreativePro came across a retouching book from 1946, titled, “Shortcuts to Photo Retouching For Commercial Use.” In it, retoucher Raymond Wardell explains the basics of the techniques at the time–think of it as a “Photoshop 101” book for photographers who came more than half a century before us.
Gable decided to scan a number of the illustrations for our enjoyment.
Here’s the cover of the book:
The equipment needed for retouching included pastes, rulers, brushes, cotton, palettes, rubber rollers, and more:
Want to ‘shop a product photo of a watch dial? You’ll have to put it under a magnifying glass and use a fine-tipped brush:
To crop a photo, you actually mark off the area you don’t want and cut it off:
An explanation of what “halftone” is:
The book offers some practical tips for how to best retouch photos:
Finally, here are some before and after examples showing photos that have been retouched:
Adobe Photoshop was released in 1989, 24 years ago, and 43 years after the publication of this book.
You can find more scanned illustrations from the book over on CreativePro.