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  • I'm stuck with skintones

    So this is my main concern as always, my weakest point, and at the same time when the auto WB fails to do it's task, this is what I'm left with.

    I'm trying to get the tones fairly natural, which is the opposite of what I usually do, but it's important for this shot.

    I quite like the tones on the last pic, which is one of Gavin's.

    These two are edit's:

    1.jpg

    4.jpg

    This is the as captured:

    2.jpg

    This is Gavin O'neill, my fav skin photographer.

    3.jpg

    I guess I'm struggling between balancing the yellow, magenta and red. I've got this far with curves and saturation, but don't know if it's the right way to go.

    Any suggestions on which tool is the most neutral for skin work?

    Is there a useful color mach utility out there?

    It appears as if that the Gavin's pic has more yellow to it, yet when I add yellow through curves, all I get is a messy yellow tint.

    I tried using the selective color, but it just went waaay out of hand. Gradient map at color mode also didn't work, as it made colors appear very artificial and desaturated...
    Last edited by skoobey; 02-21-2012, 05:19 PM.

  • #2
    Re: I'm stuck with skintones

    Stop treating it all as one big color. Gradient map is just silly. Now.... magenta, yellow, and red? Read that back and look at a color wheel. Magenta and yellow in terms of light make up red. You're making this needlessly complex. His skin is overdone for my personal taste. In terms of the color, you must understand that he has a fairly low variation per given region. In terms of density, he has the highlights, lighter shadows, and deep shadows. The midtones don't flow much. They maintain a lot of the same color through a region.

    This is a two minute version from your untouched. You need to break your work down into parts to analyze it rather than assume that this is a global adjustment on his part. Note my version. It's not perfect. I did it while looking at my old ass display and just using my mouse. You just have to look at the parts you're trying to match one by one. If I wanted to, I could make it look a lot closer.

    I haven't dealt with attachments before, so we'll see if this works.

    Edit: the shoulder and the highlights are where it's off the most. I'd just fix each separately. If I was doing such an image, I wouldn't have used as much of a curve on the overall as I did here. Rather I'd pull it back considerably and then tune the shadow and highlight regions separately.

    You need to understand that. It's mostly soft. Then the deeper shadows are used more for framing. The highlights are left where they identify peaks in the bone structure of the face. Make sense?
    Attached Files

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    • #3
      Re: I'm stuck with skintones

      Kav, you're the gr8est!

      I get the local adjustments part. I was talking about a segment that I chose to be my reference point, in this case her right cheek.

      It's just that, solar curve is giving me trouble fine tuning other tones to match the reference, as the tones are breaking up in a way that leaves me scratching my head, as I can't shift the hue (dark area just keeps moving as I paint and I can't be sure it's the same hue as I'm painting)???

      6.jpg

      P.S. I am also afraid of using yellow as I constantly keep seeing green creeping in? Am I imagining things or does green get pulled together with yellow?

      P.S. I mentioned magenta as it is a kind of tripy color for me, It's a deduction from red, yet at the same time it's the factor when determining the wb of the image, and I know skin is mostly red and yellow, so I guess I should shift the temperature and the tint to get the skin tones, it's just that I find it very hard to manage getting the the tint right in the RAW converter. (I want to combine yellow and red, but I have only the yellow at my disposal, and while I do understand that I'm controlling the redness with tint, I am afraid to introduce green into an image, some sort of green skin fobia, and as a result I always end up with insanely red skin ).
      Last edited by skoobey; 02-21-2012, 07:57 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: I'm stuck with skintones

        Ermmm that's not how I usually use it personally (the solar curve check). I usually use it to test continuity or reveal things like dust or marring on a background that might print yet is difficult to discern normally. It takes a few passes because of the way light collects. You want a smoother transition in that area right? Obviously if the transition is smoother, it's easier to achieve a smoother transition to the color as well if that's what you want.

        I'm not entirely sure I understand you perfectly here. By the way, I don't really color correct with the solar curve up at all. Regarding what colors to choose, you have to consider the color composition of skintones. You have a certain amount of density, and you have yellow and magenta pigments. Translated into rgb, you have a certain amount of red, and with most skintones including the one you want, you would have less blue than green.

        When I did that example I just went by eye. If it was a job, I would get each region to look the way I wanted bit by bit. Looking at the photographer you like, those highlights could have been considered separately. Nails, lips, jewelry, and eyes are balanced separately. Some of the deeper shadows especially toward the bottom are adjusted separately. They want you to hold her gaze and look at her nails.

        By the way, don't use AWB. You're using studio lighting. Shoot a grey card or something neutral. See what gives you a relatively neutral balance. It will most likely be in the 5200-5800 range. You should not expect your ideal skintone from the white balance. The problem is unless you're going for an overall warm or cool look to the photo, it can homogenize the color too much. Some things need to be managed separately. I use the pen tool quite a lot, but I'm very fast with it. Most people are not. It's easy to make too many points and place them in the wrong spots.

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        • #5
          Re: I'm stuck with skintones

          Oh, you get me allright. It's exactly that, if I try to adjust skin tones through WB, I might get skin too even-toned, and a bit of variety is always welcome.

          I shoot with "flash" wb, and then dial it up to 5400 (as that is the temp at which my flashes fire), but what happens often is that I'm shooting outside in the natural light and the camera gets it all sorts of wrong, and the custom WB function ain't exactly working when you have semi-overcast day, so I can chuck the gray card outside.

          SO, what you're advising me to do is to get the overall look/warmth of the desired conversions for the image in the RAW converter, and than finalize the skintones and other fiddly things through curves in the PSD itself?

          I sort-of thought that everything should be looking close-to-finished once I merge the conversions, but you have just opened my eyes, as the Camera RAW really is missing a few of the options (like adjusting the hue of the separate colors, and the r g b curves).

          Aaaaaaaah, I can't believe I was being this silly and tortured myself trying to get it just right in the Camera RAW. How come I never realized this before?

          P.S. I just use the solar curve like every 30 seconds to make sure I am not over-doing it, but it ain't helping if it breaks at critical spots.

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          • #6
            Re: I'm stuck with skintones

            In theory camera raw should be able to do quite a lot. It's just that the incomplete set of tools annoys me. I only make some basic global adjustments, and even then none that cost me detail or ability to adjust things later.

            My suggestion.... work in a very dim room. Shut the windows, turn off the lights, make sure at that brightness that your display doesn't feel like it's glaring at you. You can make multiple passes but start with one. Don't set any really crazy curves. Just use conservative processing settings that won't make the image more difficult later. The midtones should be in a relatively good spot. Highlights and shadows should have detail. If it looks a bit flat, it's still fine. Most photographs appear flat right out of processing before post work. Now go in and address separate areas like I mentioned without creating unnecessarily harsh transitions. On the one you like most of them aren't harsh. The deep shadows are fairly isolated in a way that they frame the other elements as I mentioned.

            If you're still having trouble I'll show you the layers I made on that other one. They're pretty sloppy, but like I said, I did it in two minutes.

            Edit: meaning that it was just for example, and if it was an image I was working on, they would be properly done in the end.

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            • #7
              Re: I'm stuck with skintones

              Well, it's 5am here, so I'll leave it for tomorrow as I have to get some sleep.

              This image is flat, as make up artist and I did this in something around 15 minutes time. But I want to do image justice. I'll post it when I finish.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: I'm stuck with skintones

                Originally posted by skoobey View Post
                Well, it's 5am here, so I'll leave it for tomorrow as I have to get some sleep.

                This image is flat, as make up artist and I did this in something around 15 minutes time. But I want to do image justice. I'll post it when I finish.
                Well I'm not crazy about the subject, but the potential in the lighting is there. You could get this to look really good. You just have to concentrate on smaller things rather than trying to make one adjustment for everything. I used to do the same thing. It's a bad habit to get into as it tunnels your efforts in a very bad way. Sleep well.

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                • #9
                  Re: I'm stuck with skintones

                  Adjust in curves and fine tune with hue and saturation. Select the eye with soft brush in quicmask and put in another layer, apply high pass and adjust conrast, merge. Soften the cheek to remove imperfections and in another layer, paint the neck to remove folds. Finaly add a bit of contrast.
                  Attached Files

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                  • #10
                    Re: I'm stuck with skintones

                    Well, I got a bit carried away, so I'm still not finished. I fliped over to antoher set, but I did make some progress. I think I should first finish editing other images from this set, as this one is the most problematic, despite capturing that great angle. So, I'll finish those first, and then come back to this one.

                    @edbayani, thanks for advice, yet I don't think its as simple as 1 2 3, it involves a lot of little adjustments that add-up in the big picture.

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                    • #11
                      Re: I'm stuck with skintones

                      In addition to using WB when shooting models, use your aperture by setting it at about 11(ditch the light meter). This will help keep your tones warmer and more natural. If you are not shooting RAW, do so for further adjustments before actually starting post processing. Shooting jpeg might be economical, but you lose a lot of the data RAW maintains.

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                      • #12
                        Re: I'm stuck with skintones

                        Sorry ed but i think this is worse than the original. Its too bright, youve lost the detail in the highlights, the whole image seems LESS sharp despite you saying you used a high pass (which is overdone on the eye), and if you were trying to fix the skin on the cheeks it looks like its simply beem blurred rather than properly fixed.

                        The original image is pretty good aside from healing the skin and the neck folds. Good shoot skoobs.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: I'm stuck with skintones

                          to kav:
                          would you be so kind and explain what is your favourite way ( or tools ) to select midtones, shadows, highlights for balancing out skin tones. do you use luminosity masks ? or just paint the selection ? I often struggle with keeping midtones intact while changing shadows or higlights.
                          thanx.

                          p.s.
                          especially transition from dark shadows to softer shadows / dark midtones
                          Last edited by mawu; 02-26-2012, 11:41 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Re: I'm stuck with skintones

                            Nik Dynamic Skin Softener and clone tool for the blemishes and neck. Color balance, increase yellow then Curves to lighten overall.
                            Attached Files

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                            • #15
                              Re: I'm stuck with skintones

                              Originally posted by mawu View Post
                              to kav:
                              would you be so kind and explain what is your favourite way ( or tools ) to select midtones, shadows, highlights for balancing out skin tones. do you use luminosity masks ? or just paint the selection ? I often struggle with keeping midtones intact while changing shadows or higlights.
                              thanx.

                              p.s.
                              especially transition from dark shadows to softer shadows / dark midtones
                              Usually I paint, quick mask, or pen tool a starting point for it. Occasionally I might use something like calculations or color range highlights or shadows. I don't like to do this work on an image that's already had a lot of contrast added. Why not show where you're having trouble? Can you post an example? On skooby's piece that was just a bit of rough work. They were very very rough masks. I just approximated them without driving the contrast of the image too high. If I was going to do this image entirely, I might use even less global adjustment. Normally I just try to do this (masking) in a really clean manner.

                              Usually you won't have that many levels of problematic color shift from darker midtones to deep shadows. If that is the case you'll most likely be doing many small overlapping passes and wish to pull your hair out by the end.

                              @Lou R Skin plugins are useless. Images look better with less retouching rather than skin blurring plugins. Just focus on not making it look overly rough in the first place, then manually remove major blemishes. It may not be as soft, but it still looks better than that weird look you get from plugins.

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