Photographic Retouching and Finishing

I.     Course Prefix/Number: ART 118

       Course Name: Photographic Retouching and Finishing

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 6 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

ART 115 or consent of instructor or department chair.

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course covers topics in photographic finishing practices, focusing primarily on standard negative and print retouching as well as digital retouching. Content includes advanced mat cutting, frame making, and sequencing images for a portfolio presentation, as well as storage and conservation issues. *See note.

*Note: Students are expected to buy their own film and paper. Total cost of these items is approximately $150-200 in addition to the regular lab fee. The student who does not own a camera, tripod or light meter may borrow these items from the College by paying a refundable deposit fee. Deposits will be retained when equipment is damaged or not returned on the specific due date.

IV.   Learning Objectives

A. To effectively use classic negative and print retouching techniques.
B. To demonstrate the skills needed in digital photo retouching.
C. To identify the specific retouching technique required for each job.
D. To construct frames.
E. To create a professional-level portfolio of work to be used as resume in a job-specific situation.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

A. Negative retouching:
       1. Tools:
             a. type of brush
             b. size of brush
             c. magnification
            d. dyes and pens
       2. Work space:
              a. stationary base
              b. motorized base
       3. History:
              a. retouching as art
              b. photo apprentice
              c. the problem of the sky
             d. “post visualization”
             e. technical developments

B. Print retouching:
      1. mixing dyes
      2. color retouching
      3. brush technique
      4. copy negative

C. Digital retouching:
      1. Technical:
            a. Photoshop basics
            b. Dodge/burn tool
            c.  Cloning/healing/content awere
      2. Aesthetic:
            a. work flow
            b. job specific application
            c. scan rate vs. original appearance
           d. ethical issues
D.  Matting:
        1. double and triple matting
        2. computer controlled systems
        3. dry mounting color
        4. permanence

E. Frames:
       1. selection of materials
       2. hand tools
       3. power tools
       4. handling of glass

F. Portfolio:
       1. artist statement
       2. sequencing
       3. editing
       4. final appearance

VII.  Methods of Instruction

A. Media presentations and discussions of relevant work.
B. Demonstrations of all required techniques.
C. Critiques of student work, both in progress and at the end, to develop standards and evaluative criteria.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

A. Active participation in all critiques.
B. Produce a final portfolio of at least 20 original pieces ready for display.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton’s Schedule of Classes.

A. CAMERA:  Analog or Digital DSLR.
B. Mat board:  Museum grade rag board.
C. Wood molding.

D. Portfolio case.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

The final grade will be based upon the following elements and their weights:

A. Completion of weekly photographic assignments: 80%

B. Final project: 20%

XI.   Other Course Information

A. It is essential to be on time; lectures and slide presentations are at the beginning of class and will not be repeated. Attendance is expected for all classes and review sessions.

B. All assignments and projects are to be submitted on time and demonstrate proficiency.

C. Instructors will specify in their syllabus the approximate cost of materials over and above the lab fee.

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.