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Color palettes, skin and hair tones

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  • Color palettes, skin and hair tones

    Does anyone have a skin tone palette they use and could post here? One of my worst problems is blending skin tones. I tried to use color from other pics but it is not coming close at all. Maybe it is just my blending....yikes! Thanks in advance for any help!

  • #2
    Your wish is my command
    Attached Files


    • #3
      and also - for hairtones
      Attached Files


      • #4
        I thought we covered a lot of this in WC. The skin tones can really be used from anywhere. Download a nice pic of your fav actress, and it should work fine. In that Super Mini PSP Painting Tut, I'm using a palette from a pinup painting by Fritz Willis, because I thought it had some old world charm to it. One could take colors from a cartoon if they wanted, it's the way you mix and blend them that counts more. Go search Google for skin palettes, and I bet you'll find more than you can use.
        Here's the one I just mentioned.
        Attached Files


        • #5
          Mike, Fugitive, Crazycat
          Thank you for the resources. They're keepers. Also, crazycat, I know Painter7 contains prepackaged skin tone palettes. Go a little wild too. If you look at your own skin, you'll see all sorts of colors, especially blues and greens. I agree with Fugitive that it seems like it's not the color that matters as much as the way you mix it. The better I get at this, the more I find that the lighting, both direct and reflected, nearly makes a "skintone" palette completely arbitrary.


          • #6


            • #7
              Thanks for all the info!


              • #8
                My approach is slightly different, as my background is prepress.

                This means that I think in CMYK - I look at an image and I say 'what values would make up that colour?'.

                The hue of average caucasian skin is basically red (not green or blue etc). This means that magenta and yellow are the major hue contributors, with cyan being the desaturating or contaminating or opposing ink which adds depth and detail as well as toning down the red (desaturating). Although the hue of skin is red, the actual colour of skintone is not pure magenta and yellow. The cyan is critical. There are some basic formulas/ratios which can help in this process.

                The basic method when working in CMYK or RGB is to use the info palette in Photoshop to show the values as CMYK in the second reader or to place a fixed sampler and set the colour readout for the sampler to CMYK value display. The CMYK in use for these formulas is standard SWOP type conditions - these ratios are different for newsprint or other press CMYK.

                When evaluating skintone, ignore areas that may contain makeup or shadowed areas etc. More than one fixed sampler may be needed to evaluate things, as there are many SUBTLE tonal and colour interactions going on in skintone with different colours and tones in different parts of the body.

                The basic idea is to find the magenta value for the skintone in question. This is the major half of the hue contributor and will decide how 'pink' the image is. Yellow is often equal to the magenta value, and is run higher for deeper tans - although it can be common for areas to have slightly less yellow than magenta or for other skintones to favour magenta over yellow. But the pleasing tan is often made from high magenta with higher yellow ratios. The cyan is the critical value for toning down the red hue and for adding definition. Starting with a value of 1/5 cyan compared to magenta, the ratio often increases to 1/3 or even 1/2 the cyan when compared to magenta. Black is usually added for shadows and is not a part of the caucasian skintone.

                Other racial backgrounds are all a variation on the hue of red, but there may be black introduced or the ratios may favour different inks than in caucasian. Even young caucasian children have a different ratio of inks than older children. Faces are harder than other skintone areas to correct.

                In plain english?

                Our brief is to correct a poor skintone which is too pink and to give it a nice suntan - caucasian skintone which had a value of 3c 40m 20y could be corrected to 18c 50m 60y (10c 50m 60y, 25c 50m 60y, 10c 50m 40y etc).

                When working in RGB, as mentioned set your CMYK settings to SWOP or US Flatsheet or other good press conditions and then judge the info palette via CMYK readouts. When using curves or levels or whatever, remember that RGB/CMY are not that different - Red=Cyan, Green=Magenta, Blue=Yellow (although a single RGB channel edit will often affect more than one channel in CMYK).

                Hope this helps,

                Stephen Marsh.


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