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  • Skin Tone help?

    I am sorry if I am posting on something that might have spoken about many times on the forum.
    I need some advice/technique to correct and even out skin tone on an image. What is the best trick to do this please? I have attached an image which I like to keep in color but the skin tones do not look right, they are not even and it is a bit yellow. Color balance is correct based on 50% gray card. I unsaturated the image a bit using B&W filter.
    I have heard that you can create a layer and paint it with a skin tone, change the layer mode to "color" and then apply to the skin. I have tried this and it does not look right.
    You are more than welcome to change the skin tones on the image posted and re-post the results.

    Thank You
    Hadi
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Re: Skin Tone help?

    First of all, im guessing you mean 18% grey card. Then, if you paint one single color on a layer set to color mode, then the whole painted area will adopt that color (hue and value), and it looks wrong because skin, although being primarily out of blue, short of green and rich in red, there are various hues there.

    This is what you can do. First of all, I like to eyeball this stuff. I don't really like it when people get all purists about the tones pretending they know it all about it and then you see them correcting in RGB (which is device dependent), only to see that the print doesn't look as they intended. Eyeball it, BUT, eyeball the print unless you have a correctly calibrated screen, printer and paper.

    If you still feel like giving it some values, the most precise way to go is to use curves and monitoring some samples. Use the eyedropper tool and shift click on an area of the skin that is more or less mid-tone. By shift clicking you will create a sample and the info pallet will show up telling you the exact rgb/cmyk/lab value of the pixel you just sampled. Then, by using the curves adjustment layer you created, you can change those values to the correct ones. Now, here comes the cool part. Go look for a photo with a skin color that you like, sample a similar area, and see what the values are. Then, change your values in your photo to bring them closer. That'll get you in the ball park. One thing you need to know is the complementary of red green and blue. To add magenta, reduce green. To add yellow, reduce blue and to add cyan, reduce red... and viceversa. If you don't find a photo with a skin color that you like, you can also google skin color values. It's a good practice that you keep notes of values for the different types of skin.

    Now, that was the control freak version of skin correction. The easiest way is by using the selective color adjustment layer and modify only the reds. That works ok. What that layer will do is let you modify just the color you choose from the previous layer (the original photo). Say you want to correct the skin, then what you do is modify mainly the reds by adding or subtracting cmyk values. If there is a lot of red in the photo that you don't want modified (red clothing, background...), then you can mask away the parts you want to preserve.

    Im really reeeeealy tired back from the studio now, so if you need more specific tips, let us here know.
    Last edited by flexmanta; 01-19-2010, 04:58 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Skin Tone help?

      Fotogen you did lower the opacity of the solid color layer to 40% or less didn't you? Normally what I told you about the solid color layer works but not always because like Flexmanta said skin isn't just one color but many so sometimes the solid color layer doesn't always work. You can however make multiple solid color layers set to color with different skin colors and applied to different parts of the model.

      If that doesn't work for you you can use as Flexmanta suggested a selective color layer or a color balance layer or even a hue/saturation layer to adjust the skin tones you will always need to use masks if the adjustment is big. I agree with Flexmanta on doing it a bit by eyeballing the color.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Skin Tone help?

        Flexmanta, Thank you for your input but I am totally confused. Are you saying that I should create a curves layer and then go to each color, R, G and B and change their curves until I get the correct colors? But this shifts the skin colors in all areas. I also like to be able to even out the tones of the skin so some places where it is too red, I would like to reduce the redness in that area only. Can you please post an example of before and after and show me what you did? Is there a video tutorial on skin tones and colors, I do so much better visually

        C79, Thank you for your help as well. And yes, I did change the opacity to 40% but it is not exactly what I was looking for. Look at the image I posted here. The skin tones are not even. I like to not only change the skin color a bit but to also even out the skin tones.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Skin Tone help?

          Recommendation... think of each "problem skin tones" as individuals, target each one with whatever method you want to use.
          If you think of the skin tone as a whole you get the problem that if you fix one side the other looks worse. Most of the time the adjustments have to be made to individual parts in order to get them looking "normal"

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Skin Tone help?

            Hey fotogen, yes, that's what i meant. You correct values for one a sample and that should change the colors of all image. That is exactly what you want. If color shift in a way you don't want them to, then 2 things have happened. Either you chose the wrong sample, or your color were right in the first place. Are you sure you are using your 18% grey card correctly? You can still mask the curves adjustment layer so that it only affects skin, but that should not be necessary since, if one color is right on a photo, then the rest should be too.

            http://www.retouchpro.com/pages/skintones.jpg
            http://www.retouchpro.com/pages/haircolor.jpg

            Those are RGB color charts. Another thing you can do is, if you shoot raw, then check if the background has still some of the info, even if it is out of your histogram. If it does, try using it as your white before making the raw conversion. There are some people who use various conversions for a single psd, ie. one for the eyes, one for the skin and so on (regarding white balance).

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Skin Tone help?

              Your image is full of neutral tones to color balance from. Use the eye dropper tool in PS, change the sample size to at least '11x11 pixels' which is located on the context sensitive, overhead bar, and hold down the shift key to drop sample points in your neutral areas--the light gray in the bottom right would be good as well as her light black shirt. If the info palette you will be able to see the color information of your sample points and they will be numbered.

              Make a curves adjustment layer. Choose the 'target adjustment tool' in the curves window (it is a finger pointing upward next to a double-ended arrow). You want to get the R,G,B channels to be the same number for your sample points since you sampled in neutral toned areas. For example, if the BLUE number is too high at your light gray sample point, go into the blue channel and with the Target Adjustment Tool selected, click and drag on that sample point and drag it up or down to change the value. you can also just click the sample point and then use the arrow keys to control the point on the curve. Do that to both your neutral points and see how it looks. It is good to have a series of neutral points to balance off of, that is why they sell those gray scale cards with normally anywhere from 3-11 steps.

              Sometimes balancing your neutrals won't completely neutralize the color casts on skin tone and you need to go in and color correct the skin tones themselves. Same idea, go in and drop some sample points on the skin. You want to select an area outside of a highlight on the face. Sample a few areas. And in the info palette, change your sample point information from RGB to CMYK. A starting point with color balancing skin is to have your Cyan value about 3 to 5 times as small as Yellow (or have yellow be between 3-5 times that of Cyan...same thing). Magenta close in value to Yellow, but Yellow a little big higher. blacK should be 0 if you sampled a light enough area outside a highlight. This is for Caucasian skin like your model, so an example of good numbers would be C:5 M:20 Y:22 K:0. See how Yellow between 3-5 times as large as Cyan, and Yellow is slightly bigger than Magenta. This is just a starting point and you can further make adjustments from here. Many professionals swear by this recipe. I find this technique as a starting point very crucial. If there is a cast on the skin, sometimes it is hard to see since our eyes adjust to color casts or along the same vein we can have a hard time seeing subtle color problems until identified and corrected. Numbers are a good solid reference point for neutrals and work fairly well for skin.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Skin Tone help?

                I used to do it the hard way, but somehow, I find better results by doing it the easier way. Adding a gradient map set to color and 40% opacity or less. Make sure to mask out what isn't skin.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Skin Tone help?

                  @kkamin is this the method others named "correction by numbers"? thanks

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Skin Tone help?

                    My advice is to keep the numbers as a guide. Specially if you have an argument with your client, lol!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Skin Tone help?

                      Originally posted by BuddhaBIO View Post
                      @kkamin is this the method others named "correction by numbers"? thanks
                      Yes. I recommend the portrait retouching course at Lynda.com by Chris Orwig if you want to see it in action and explained 1000x better than I did.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Skin Tone help?

                        Originally posted by Quantum3 View Post
                        I used to do it the hard way, but somehow, I find better results by doing it the easier way. Adding a gradient map set to color and 40% opacity or less. Make sure to mask out what isn't skin.
                        Can you explain that process a little bit? I'm looking for some short cuts.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Skin Tone help?

                          Originally posted by flexmanta View Post
                          Hey fotogen, yes, that's what i meant. You correct values for one a sample and that should change the colors of all image. That is exactly what you want. If color shift in a way you don't want them to, then 2 things have happened. Either you chose the wrong sample, or your color were right in the first place. Are you sure you are using your 18% grey card correctly? You can still mask the curves adjustment layer so that it only affects skin, but that should not be necessary since, if one color is right on a photo, then the rest should be too.

                          http://www.retouchpro.com/pages/skintones.jpg
                          http://www.retouchpro.com/pages/haircolor.jpg

                          Those are RGB color charts. Another thing you can do is, if you shoot raw, then check if the background has still some of the info, even if it is out of your histogram. If it does, try using it as your white before making the raw conversion. There are some people who use various conversions for a single psd, ie. one for the eyes, one for the skin and so on (regarding white balance).
                          flexmanta: As I am sure you know, the 18 % gray card is normally used for two purposes:
                          Exposure
                          Color Balance
                          For color balance, all you need is a neutral color that has R=G=B. White is no longer used since those values can saturate and might look like they are all the same but in fact they are not. So Gray is used at any percentage of reflection, typically 18% or 50%.
                          To balance the color of the light and prevent any color casting, I photograph the 50% card in the same light I am going to photograph the model with the same exposure. I then force the camera to do "Custom White Balance", event though I am shooting RAW. I then photograph the card again. I do keep the images of the gray card and when looking at the second image in camera raw, it reads 128, 128, 123, ,meaning that it was rendered by the camera as totally neutral.
                          Am I correct in my way of doing things?

                          Thank You

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Skin Tone help?

                            Yeah.

                            1) select skin by using your preffered method.
                            2) add a Gradient Map adjustment layer.
                            3) Set the blending to Color.
                            4) Set the opacity to no more than 40%.
                            5) set up the gradient map colors to something around the skin colors (you can sample from the skin colors as well).

                            That's all

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Skin Tone help?

                              Also, when looking at my image that I posted, what do everyone think is wrong please? I know something is not right with the skin tones, but I can not tell if it is the skin color or the un-even tones of skin.

                              Quantum, Can you please post a before and after if not too much trouble. This sounds really easy

                              Comment

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