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Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded photos

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  #1  
Old 01-10-2009, 03:22 PM
sulayman sulayman is offline
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Question Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded photos

I've decided to restore an old photo of my parents and me from 1975 and have done (I like to think) a halfway-decent job of getting rid of the color cast and bringing some of the original tones back to the photo. Unfortunately, like most old photos, the restored color is still fairly washed-out and bleached. I really want to bring realistic, healthy tone back to the skin but no matter how many adjustment layers I tweak and mask, I can never get it quite right.

I'm not a fan of the "painted skin color" technique for photos like these. It works with very old photos because it's somewhat reminiscent of the old technique of pencil-coloring b&w photos, but it feels out-of-place in more modern photos.

What would be the best way to give us back our young, healthy glows?
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  #2  
Old 01-10-2009, 10:07 PM
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Kraellin Kraellin is offline
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Re: Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded ph

i think what you want here is to add some saturation. put a hue/sat adjustment layer on top of your others and just crank the saturation up on the master setting.

also, once you do that, you're going to find that some of your colors are a bit off here and there and that there's also little bits of cleanup to do. on the color cleanup, add a blank layer over your hue/sat layer and set the blend mode to color. then, with a very light opacity on your airbrush tool, just paint in the right colors where needed. i recommend this treatment because you're not trying to do a lot of change with color, just some minor adjustments and this technique shld work well with that. and, if it isnt right, it's very easy to erase and do over.
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Old 01-11-2009, 11:01 AM
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LonK LonK is offline
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Re: Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded ph

Hi sulayman,

You didn't mention what editor you are using, so this assumes Photoshop (CS3).

Shadow/Highlights will allow you to bring a considerable amount of detail to both dark/light areas. Then, like Craig suggested, use a hue/sat adjustment layer to pump up the saturation a bit. You can use the dodge tool (set to highlights, 20% to quickly clean up the background and paint white on edge dark spots. Slight color anomalies can be corrected with a selective color adjustment layer if desired.

Good luck,
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Old 01-11-2009, 09:02 PM
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chillin chillin is offline
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Re: Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded ph

Painted with curves & HSL
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  #5  
Old 01-11-2009, 10:02 PM
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Joeven Joeven is offline
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Re: Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded ph

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kraellin View Post
i think what you want here is to add some saturation. put a hue/sat adjustment layer on top of your others and just crank the saturation up on the master setting.

also, once you do that, you're going to find that some of your colors are a bit off here and there and that there's also little bits of cleanup to do. on the color cleanup, add a blank layer over your hue/sat layer and set the blend mode to color. then, with a very light opacity on your airbrush tool, just paint in the right colors where needed. i recommend this treatment because you're not trying to do a lot of change with color, just some minor adjustments and this technique shld work well with that. and, if it isnt right, it's very easy to erase and do over.
If your going to increase the saturation then you should copy your layer then apply the Median filter at 2 px then Gaussian Blur at 1 px then you can increase the Saturation usually up to +40 on your blurred layer. Change the blend mode to Color and adjust opp. By blurring it and using the Color mode you avoid halos and weird color shifts.

Joe
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Old 01-11-2009, 11:50 PM
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igot2pman igot2pman is offline
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Re: Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded ph

  1. Duplicate the background or copy merge where you’re at. Then set that layer to multiply blending mode. Create a layer mask and hide all the black parts.
  2. Create a curves layer and set the white point to the boarders. Then mask out the picture areas.
  3. Created a color balance adj to correct parts that were a little yellow. Masked only the affected.
  4. Lastly, painted white in a new layer over the damaged parts.

Hope this helps,
-Keven
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  #7  
Old 01-12-2009, 12:26 AM
sulayman sulayman is offline
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Re: Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded ph

Wow. Thanks for all the input, guys. I think I'm starting to see that in a lot of ways I'm kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place.

On the one hand, methods like Kraellin and LonK's -- hue/sat adjustment + selective cleaning up after the fact -- would bring to light a lot of the otherwise-unseen issues with the photo. Such as the yellow tinge to my skin tone in the main picture. Once I start to bump the saturation, a lot of the hidden flaws become more noticeable.

On the other, "painting" the image (like what Chillin did) allows for more consistent and even tones, but at the cost of looking less natural and more pastel-y.

I suspect this might be a popular dilemma when restoring color photos that I never really encountered since the few restorations I done were all monotone. Now I guess I have to decide whether I want it realistic-but-splotchy, even-but-artificial, or just to leave it as-is.

In any case, thanks again for all the tips and samples. This definitely helps.
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  #8  
Old 01-12-2009, 03:02 PM
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chillin chillin is offline
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Re: Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded ph

One more tip, try the methods on Hi-res pic.
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  #9  
Old 01-17-2009, 04:55 AM
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sergio2263 sergio2263 is offline
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Smile Re: Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded ph

Quote:
Originally Posted by chillin View Post
Painted with curves & HSL

Hi Chillin,

Can I ask how did you paint with HSL, I've heard of HSL but haven't a clue what's it's all about.


many thanks in advance


helen
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  #10  
Old 06-30-2009, 10:15 AM
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MiningArt MiningArt is offline
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Re: Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded ph

I gave different skin tones to each.
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  #11  
Old 07-14-2009, 05:33 PM
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learninlady learninlady is offline
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Re: Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded ph

Heres my attempt........
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  #12  
Old 07-20-2009, 07:46 PM
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alshaiji alshaiji is offline
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Re: Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded ph

play around with all three RGB curves
you can add some saturation if you like

enjoy

alshaiji
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  #13  
Old 12-04-2009, 08:30 PM
bgvotaw bgvotaw is offline
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Re: Bringing realistic skin tones back to faded ph

Quote:
Originally Posted by chillin View Post
Painted with curves & HSL
That one looks GREAT!
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