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Matching skin tones

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  • Matching skin tones

    In another thread, Bandit asked for a technique to match skin tones from one photo to another. (This is useful if you have to combine two different photos taken in different lighting conditions into one.) I learned this technique in Ben Willmore’s Photoshop Mastery class this past summer. It is also described in his book: Adobe Photoshop 7.0 Studio Techniques, p. 259.

    This technique assumes that you’ve already adjusted the shadows/highlights in your image using either levels or curves. You’ll need two photos:
    Photo1 – the photo with the skin tones you want to use
    Photo2 – the photo with the skin tones that need to be corrected

    1. Open Photo1 and use the Eyedropper tool to click on a skin area that is medium brightness (i.e., not a highlight and not a shadow). This will set the foreground color to the color of that skin area. Click on the foreground color and make a note of the RGB values which make up that color.

    2. Open Photo2 and using the Color Sampler tool, click on an area of medium brightness (similar to the brightness of the area you clicked on in Photo1) on the skin that needs to be corrected. This will add a readout in the Info Palette for the Color Sampler point you just added.

    3. Click on the little triangle in the upper right corner of the Info Palette to bring up the palette menu. Choose HSB Color. Make a note of the brightness setting (i.e., write it down if you won’t remember it). Then, click on the triangle to get the palette menu again and set it back to RGB Color.

    4. Click on the foreground color (should still be the value set in step #1). You want to use that color, but not change the brightness of your image. So, you need to change the brightness setting of the foreground color to the same number you wrote down in step #3 (i.e., the brightness of the skin in the photo you need to correct). Now, write down the new RGB numbers (the ones after you change the brightness setting.)

    5. Make a general selection of the skin you need to change in Photo2. (Don’t worry if it’s not perfect.)

    6. Open a new Curves Adjustment Layer and add a point to each of the individual RGB curves (anywhere in the middle of the curve). Now, in each channel, make the point you added active by clicking on it. For the Input number, type in the number you see for that channel in the Info Palette (the number on the left). For the Output number, type in the number that you wrote down in Step #4. Do this for all three RGB channels and your skin tone in Photo2 should now look very close to Photo1.

    7. If your selection wasn’t quite perfect, you can now clean it up using the Curves Adjustment Layer Mask.

    Ben also wrote a tutorial using a similar technique to fix mismatched highlights which can be found at:

    Good luck and let me know if you run into any problems.


  • #2
    Thank you Jeanie,
    I printed this off and i'll be giving it a go today.


    • #3
      This is great, thank-you, should come in handy for sure.



      • #4
        Jeanie, thanks for sharing a Ben Willmore seminar technique!


        • #5
          help please

          i am new to the world od pshop what i am looking to learn is how to change the skin colour from one pic to the other and making it look the same i have read the tutroiel but i am lost with it does anyone have a easy one to follow or even pictures or diagrams to show me i hope someone can help me conqer this

          many thanks



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