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Creative Retouching Essentials in a Day | EBook Review

By Jules Ebe on July 21st 2013

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The Philosophy

As an award winning retoucher, photographer, and digital artist, Julia Kuzmenko McKim is considered one of the best educators in the business. You may remember her from our recent interview or our review of her advanced retouching eBook: Digital Photo Retouching: Beauty, Fashion and Portrait Photography.

“I have accumulated my knowledge from dozens of sources and built my workflow by making every possible mistake and learning from each and every one of them. My hope is that this eBook will help you save a lot of time and effort, cut many corners and take you straight to the necessary tools, panels and techniques.

Take everything I know and implement the best parts into your workflow.

The philosophy behind this eBook is that you don’t need to waste your time learning all the tools and panels Photoshop has to offer if you only want to master or improve your photo retouching skills. These guides will do just that.


File Contents

The eBook version worked great for me because I tend to learn best through video/text combinations.

Download File Size: 126.9 Mb
File Format: 4 PDFs + .atn (Custom PS Actions) + .grd (PS Gradient) + .abr (Custom PS Brushes)
Page Count: 36 (includes all materials)
Video Tutorials: 8 embedded video links(30 mins)
Mac & PC compatible (can view on tablets and smartphones)
Skill Level: Basic – Beginner


Along with the Essentials eBook file, the download contains two additional eBook PDFs and a goodie bag. It is like a happy meal prize for grown-ups.

The eBooks themselves are opened easily on multiple platforms and links to video tutorials placed throughout.

Goodie Bag – Brushes, Action Sets, and User Guide

Along with the Creative Retouching Essentials in a Day eBook, you will receive a Goodie Bag file that consists of several art brushes and action sets that you can use as you work through the training tutorials. Julia has also included a user guide that explains installation and guide to all the goodies you just installed on your computer. It is always great to use the same settings when working alongside an educational system and I would suggest downloading and setting them up first.


(You may notice another set of actions listed – those are from Julia’s Digital Photo Retouching: Beauty, Fashion and Portrait Photography eBook collection.)

Sample Pages



Lesson Structure

Julia stays true to her theory of mastering the essentials and sticking to what you need to know specifically for beauty retouch.

The eBook is broken into sections based around specific lessons; such as how to fine-tune your Photoshop for peak performance, understanding color management, using custom brushes, and even peeks into Julia’s personal tool box.


The video tutorials cover several subjects, including the difference between several Photoshop retouching tools, Blending Modes and Adjustment Layers, and how to best utilize Layers and Layer Masks.Throughout the eBook you will find inspirational images that will change from before to after if you simply scroll over them.

Video Tutorials and Reference Guides

Depending on your learning style, whether you like to read detailed instructions, watch tutorial videos, or a mix of both – in my opinion, the eBook versions of Julia’s materials is the best way to go. When viewing on your computer or iPad, the eBooks contain exclusive YouTube content. The 8 embedded video tutorials in Creative Essentials provide around 30 minutes of educational material and examples. You will also find links to recommended reading for topics covered in the book in case you would like to dig deeper into the topics.

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As we have noticed before, having video tutorials alongside the written chapter makes the material a lot easier to follow. If you forget something later on you don’t need to skip through several minutes of video – just pull up the directions in the text.

Bonus Material

The Creative Essentials eBook also includes two additional reference guides, Getting Better Everyday (PDF), Photography & Photoshop + Glossary (PDF), and Essential Beauty Actions & Brushes User Manual (PDF). Each includes additional reference resources to help guide you through the material.

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The eBook version also includes a set of Custom Beauty Actions (.atn), Custom Beauty Brushes (.abr), and a Collection of Gradients (.grd). I would suggest downloading these first so that you can work alongside the lessons with the same tools. Use the bonus Essential Beauty Actions & Brushes User Manual to guide you through the process.

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

If you are a more advanced Photoshop user, I would suggest picking up Julia’s other eBook – Digital Photo Retouching: Beauty, Fashion and Portrait Photography. It is a perfect compliment to this volume and further builds on the foundation set in this eBook with more complex techniques and in-depth tutorials. Oh yes – and more goodies.


To purchase your own copy of Creative Retouching Essentials in a Day for $74.28, click here. This includes all pdf files, links to video tutorials, and a full set of Custom Photoshop Brushes and Actions specifically designed for digital arts and retouch.

A nice additional bonus for Spanish speakers is the ability to purchase a translated version of Creative Essentials . The video tutorials in this version also have translated subtitles.

Until Next Time . . .

Stay Inspired ~ Jules

CREDITS: Photographs by Julia Kuzmenko have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.


is a Southern California based Conceptual Artist and Photographer. Her work has been featured in several print publications and selections can be seen in local gallery exhibitions. Connect with her on Facebook and Google+.


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