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"chalky" skin texture?

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Old 12-17-2010, 05:18 PM
thehjj thehjj is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 39
"chalky" skin texture?

Hey guys, there's a look that I've been trying to achieve with my retouching but haven't been too successful with it. I don't really know how describe it other than "chalky". Really smooth, but not plastic ... instead looks soft, like chalk dust.
I know the first thing is a good makeup artist. I work with good makeup artists. The look I'm wondering is definitely a photoshop thing.

I've tried by adding a new layer, blending mode set to overlay, filled with 50% neutral gray. Then I use the add noise filter. Depending on the photo, anywhere between 4% and 16%, and then adding a 1 pixel radius gaussian blur. This gets me close. It looks great when zoomed in at 100%, but I zoome out the effect disappears.

A friend of mine recently suggested that I shoot at a higher ISO to get this chalky look. This makes sense, sometimes I'll shoot at ISO 400 because the noise has a slightly softening effect and just looks nice. But sometimes I'm afraid to shoot too high because the higher the ISO the image starts the break down in the shadow areas.

Any thoughts or tips on achieving this look? Thanks!

Last edited by thehjj; 12-17-2010 at 10:01 PM. Reason: bananas
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Old 12-17-2010, 11:14 PM
mistermonday's Avatar
mistermonday mistermonday is offline
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 3,028
Re: "chalky" skin texture?

thehjj, welcome to RetouchPro. Most of the natural noise and grunge in an image resides in the blue channel and you can source what you need from there. To do this I often use the following technique:
Add a Channel Mixer adjustment layer above the background. Change the layer's blend mode to Overlay or Soft Light.
In the Channel Mixer dialog box, check the Monochrome box.
Drag the blue channel slider to the right to about 100 as a starting point. Drag the Red channel slider to the left to offset the excessive brightness. You can move the green a little either way. The more you move the Blue to the right, the more noise and grunge you will get.
When you are done you add a Hue/Sat adj layer on top and reduce the saturation. You can also increase the Lightness to smooth the texture out.
I am sure other members have their own methods as there are many ways to achieve the effect.
Regards, Murray
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Old 12-18-2010, 12:17 AM
thehjj thehjj is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 39
Re: "chalky" skin texture?

Thanks for the response!
I'll try that out and post the results when I have some time. I'll also experiment around with some higher ISO's and post those for some comparisons.
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