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How to improve B&W Skin Tones

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  #1  
Old 12-13-2009, 05:06 PM
wvcs wvcs is offline
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How to improve B&W Skin Tones

I'm in the process of restoring an old photo, but I'm at the point where I'm not sure what to do about the skin tones. As you can see in the attached photo the skin tones just aren't right and I'm not sure what the right approach is for improving them. Any guidances or suggestions.

Thanks Bill

http://www.pixentral.com/show.php?pi...KnCavopukFJQG0
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Old 12-13-2009, 09:46 PM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: How to improve B&W Skin Tones

you've got a bit of blue in there. i think i'd first just try a hue/saturation adjustment layer and simply lower the saturation till the blue is gone.
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Old 12-13-2009, 11:00 PM
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Re: How to improve B&W Skin Tones

it looks to me like the blotchy on the skin is from retouching - I am assuming that the same kind of damage that is in the background was on the faces ... is this what you are referring to?

Please post whether you are using Photoshop or a different program so folks here have an idea as to how best to help -thanks
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Old 12-14-2009, 10:59 AM
wvcs wvcs is offline
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Re: How to improve B&W Skin Tones

roger_ele, you are correct. The original photo had lots of crackling/spots and the suggested fix was to use a gaussian blur technique to remove it. During the process, the blotchness occurred. I do have the original in a separate layer, but the skin tones aren't great there either. Yes, I'm new to this whole retouching evolution, so any suggestions/recommendations are greatly appreciated. I'm using Photoshop Elements 7 to perform this retouch.

Thanks Bill
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Old 12-14-2009, 11:19 PM
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Re: How to improve B&W Skin Tones

Blotchy makes total sense, if you look at the pattern in the damage there are repeating areas that would average out darker than others. You need to think of this problem as not so much one of a mechanical technique (gausian blur), but one of art work.

Two techniques I use in Photoshop, and I think are both available in Elements, are as follows ...

1) Use the clone tool on a lower setting (I usually use 30% , but whatever) and rock back and forth over a short distance and in the direction of the contour of the shape ... I know this sounds weird, but follow me ... use a soft clone brush at 30% small enough not to interfere with the neighboring shapes on the face - so if you are working on the darker area under the cheekbone, you want the brush small enough to not screw with the cheekbone itself or the jaw - so to continue the example, working on the darker area of the cheek, around the highlight on the cheekbone, select a source point and then move half of the brushes size to a spot the should be the same brightness and click to paint - now select where you just clicked and go to your original source point and click to paint - this is what I mean by rocking back and forth - you are blending tones between two area until you get the average - because it is directional and purposeful you are in effect painting and staying true to the contours of the face using the original image.

This technique also works to blend areas or transitions between lighter and darker areas - sometimes by only moving 20% of the brush sive on rocking almost on top of where you are working or back and forth across a very short distance from a lighter to darker area where you want to smooth out a transition ...

2) Use the smudge tool and do the same kind of thing (I am usually around 40 to 50%) - little strokes back and forth in the direction of the contours of the shapes (the way you think they should be, not nec. the way they are).

No matter what, keep the original image on a layer underneath so the you can turn on and off visibility of the retouch layer you are working on so that you can make sure you are not drifting from the true shapes of the original image (as you would judge it to be without damage).

When you are done and it is pretty, create a blank layer and fill it with gray ... change this layer to overlay blend mode and then add noise to the layer to taste ... this will add grain to the image that 'tie' all of your smoochy art work together ... and then reduce the opacity on this layer to taste ... if this technique isn't available in Elements maybe someone will post a work around ;-) ...

Hope this is a help.
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Old 12-15-2009, 06:04 PM
wvcs wvcs is offline
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Re: How to improve B&W Skin Tones

roger_ele,

Both these are available in elements. Thanks for the detailed instructions. I'll try this technique and post the results.

Thanks again Bill
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