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basic help in adjusting for skin tones

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  • basic help in adjusting for skin tones

    I am a pretty advance user of photoshop 7.0 and am quite proficcient at all of the tools. I have used the program for years on most of my photographs, which are mostly of landscapes and such or artistic endeavors.
    I have recently started doing digital touch up and color correction for wedding photographs and am finding that it is realatively new waters that I am in, as far as adjusting for skin tones. I think I have a pretty good eye for a good skin tone, but I am easily swayed.
    When looking at an image, I can tell if it is too greem or pink and such, but when I go to take the slightest green out, I see the magenta go in and I think it looks too magenta. When I take a bit of blue out, I see the yellow go in and it looks too blue.
    It also happens with the wedding dress. In the shade the dress takes on a blueish cast, but when I take the blue out, I get too much yellow it seems. I use the white point picker when I can but oftentimes, the images just gets way too contrasty or blown out.
    Can you recommend a basic tutorial or give me some advice on how to assess a proper skin tone and adjust for it?
    I also usually use the individual rgb curves or level channels to adjust since I do not want to go into color balance and have to adjust each highlight, shadow, and midtone seperatly.
    Thanks for the help.

  • #2
    Not an online resource, but Katrin Eismann has a good section on this in Photoshop Restoration and Retouching (pp 114-118 in the second edition).


    • #3
      Another good resource is Scott Kelby's The Photoshop Book. Same publisher as Eismann: New Riders.

      I think some key points are:
      Always work in CMYK for fleshtones.
      Open Curves and the Info palette. Move your cursor to a neutral flesh point away from makeup then Shift click to put an anchor point. Take a look at the percent readings in the Info palette. Generally, a white Anglo Saxon should have 3 to 5% more yellow than magenta. To find out where your magenta and yellow in your flesh tone resides, Shift - Ctl Click in Anchor Point. Open your magenta curve. It should show percentages in the Input Output boxes. Change the percentage in the output box. For example, if your initial reading showed magenta 12% more than yellow, try reducing the magenta percent by 7%. Then change to the yellow curve and change the output percent by +8. This should give you a net difference of +3 yellow which is what you are trying to achieve.
      I think I just did a great disservice to Scott. You probably should just buy the book. But I tried!!



      • #4
        i have the book Leah mentions of.. and it sure is worth the purchase.. some nice tips in there



        • #5
          skin tones

          First of all I think the proper skin tone depends on the ethnicity of the subject or whether they are tan or not. A good tip from Ben Willmore "Studio Techniques" (if mama's memory serves her correctly) is to get one of those Photo Discs from a stock agency. And to interject here, that my opinion is to always work in RGB mode initially and especially if your final output is to a digital printer or inkjet; the only time (in my opinion and experience, that a cmyk conversion would be necessarry is if the ouput was to a magazine printed on an off-set printing press. And even then only minor final tweeking would be done. Perhaps I misunderstood one of the reply posts of "always work in cmyk." The post didn't actually say "mode," so it could be a reference that one can easily work with cmyk sliders in the Selective Color Adjustment Layer, and also the fact that whether in Curves or Levels the opposite side of an individual Channel slider or individual Curves y axis is, are in fact, allowing you to manipulate the secondary colors of cyan, magentta, and yellow. Anyway, back to this tip-- Pull up a portrait shot from the photo disk of a person whose skin tone looks like it would be a good match for what is appropriate and desired for your photo. (pay attention to the photo disc's file color mode; make sure it is in the same working color space as your image. Put a few sample points in the stock photo skin tone areas; mid, highl, shadow. write down their RGB values. Jump to your image and put samplers in similar areas of the skin. Add a curves adjustment layer and move your cursor into your image area. Shift Command (mac) or Shift Control (pc) click on the midtone area of the skin (ie to correspond with the sampler point area from the photo disc shot. Once you've done this, you won't see anything in the curves composite RGB graph, but if you toggle back to the channels individually, you will. Go the the Red Channel and with the curve point selected, leave it's input alone but change the output to match the Red readout in the info palette, that you wrote down for the disc image R value. Then go to the green channel, same thing, except change the ouput field to the same number as the G value of disc image. By now it's looking pretty horrid...but wait...don't give up... Go to the blue channel and do the same thing. Check out your info palette for the before and after values, you might want to toggle the HSB readout and make sure the B value is where you want it (an average of the RGB values). Some tweeking and possibly lowering the opacity of this curves adjustment layer may give you a better result. If the adjustment affected areas of your image that you didn't want it to, then just paint black in the mask of that adjustment layer. But definately use your info palette as a source of color numbers, because your eyes can and will deceive you because of various factors, like lack of monitor calibration and profiling and the fact that we ALL see color a little differently.
          At any rate I thought I'd mention this tip, cause it's "so" by the numbers....which don't lie.

          Mama Shan


          • #6
            basic help in adjusting for skin tones

            I could be wrong but I don't believe Scott is suggesting to do your corrections in CMYK. I believe what he is suggesting is to look at the CMYK readings. Another way of saying this: When you're in PS, have the Info pallette open and taking readings off the skin tones, I'd suggest having the first readouts set for RGB and the one on the right to CMYK. This way you can observe what is happening in both modes.
            You should find that a winter skin tone (those with more pastel skins) will give you a reading of 20, 40, 40, X. Move your eyedropper around on the skin until you find a 20 density for the Cyan reading. If the M & Y read 40 each, it should look pretty good. The K reading may vary. When you're reading off a "normal skin" (warmer in color in my area of the country), you should find that the Y is a bit higher than the M -- maybe even 10 points.
            I hope this helps.
            Another suggestion: Make it easy on yourself and get Pictographics iCorrect. Sweet and quick. Seldom fooled. On the other hand you may also want to have Test Strip by Vivid Details for those really hard to correct images. Check them out online.
            Best Wishes.
            Joe Butts


            • #7

              thanks all.

              very informative and oh so helpful. I'll now need to spend hours trying to sort through all of the info and practice the new techniques.


              • #8
                Hello all. This is my first post since registered. ^^;;;
                Thanks for the tips.

                IMO, color correction is usually closely connected with 'mask'. You can easily dodge, burn, and color-correct a image with ready made channel(for example, Duplicate Red or Green channel, then adjust levels. Then load selection with that copied channel and adjust curves)
                These days I'm practicing color correction with some photos, which are unfortunately(???) mainly under-exposed or night-shot( over-exposed in red channel from pretty long shutter speed)
                So I often use Apply Image or Calculations to borrow details from a well exposed(?) channel and mix them into a badly exposed(?) channel.

                ###BTW, after correcting photos shot by a light of a street lamp (they're tinted usually red, orange, warm yellow), I see outcomes looks like being shot with a speed light.

                I think using Selective Color and Color balance adjustment layer is a way to solve this problem. Now I refer to a book(studio portrait photography) to find out some relevant reference photos.

                Would you show me some ways to give photos their own feelings(?) by various light source?

                Attached image is a photo of my nephews, just adjusting curves without mask, I 've got only a blueish and a little pale one. I made two curves adjustment layer and each mask for the two children. Any suggestions, critics, comments will be welcome.
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  Micah, hope to hear back from you as to how you make out and if anything we have said helped. We're all hear to learn.



                  • #10
                    skin tones on asians and african americans

                    thanks all for the responses. So much help and I'm already practicing the new techniques.
                    I was also wondering if you could fill me in on what the average skin tone readings for RGB and CMYK are from african americans as well as asians.
                    Thanks again,


                    • #11
                      Hi Micah

                      There is a very large range of tones in African Americans but as a starting point try the following:

                      Asian: Start with average Caucasian RGB 213/172/129 CMYK 8%/35%/45%/0% For Asian such add yellow.

                      African American: RGB 136/105/75 CMYK 27%/50%/63%/21%

                      Generally, find the cyan value, magenta should be double that of cyan, and yellow should be around one fifth to one third higher than magenta.

                      Again, I would strongly suggest you pick up a copy of Katrin Eismann's Photoshop Restoration & Retouching for a much more in depth discussion.



                      • #12
                        Re: basic help in adjusting for skin tones

                        Originally posted by micah

                        when I go to take the slightest green out, I see the magenta go in and I think it looks too magenta. When I take a bit of blue out, I see the yellow go in and it looks too blue.
                        It also happens with the wedding dress. In the shade the dress takes on a blueish cast, but when I take the blue out, I get too much yellow it seems. I use the white point picker when I can but oftentimes, the images just gets way too contrasty or blown out.
                        Can you recommend a basic tutorial or give me some advice on how to assess a proper skin tone and adjust for it?
                        Use the channel mixer for more accurate
                        color balancing / tweaking.

                        Also, if you find a color cast spilling into a gray or
                        pale blue area, when tweaking flesh tones,
                        just drop an adjustment layer over a background
                        copy, or use a layer mask. One way I build a
                        mask, for an alpha channel, is:
                        Select the magic wand tool, set the tolerance
                        quite low, say around 7 to 10%; make sure
                        'contiguous' is checked, and 'use all layers'
                        is unchecked; then hold down the shift key while
                        repeatedly clicking in the area I want to mask or select.

                        Also - the best way (I find) to set the white and
                        black points is manually!
                        I use the levels dialog, and carefully look at
                        all four histograms (R,G,B, and Composite),
                        and then drag the input sliders in (while in RGB).

                        You can always try a Ctrl+Shift+B to do a
                        "auto color" (photoshop 7 or higher), then
                        toggle back and forth with the Ctrl+Z "undo-redo", but
                        you will usually get better results with global color
                        correction by doing it manually in the curves
                        and levels, then semi-globally with the channel
                        mixer, and maybe an adjustment layer or two,
                        then specific color correction with brushes
                        and layer masks, etc.


                        • #13
                          Some information that might be helpful to you.

                          You will need to register.

                          click here

                          and here.

                          click here

                          This one is good for enhancing skin tones as well.

                          click here

                          Also a guide in correcting skin tones.

                          For caucasians: cyan value 1/5 to 1/3 of the magenta(depending how bronzed), the magenta and yellow equal. The yellow10 to 15 points higher in hispanics and asians. Remenbering when measuring these values: measure in normal lighting, not where the fleshtone is in shadow or where there is make-up. The above values can be read in rgb as well. As I can do both in rgb and cmyk.
                          I, at times, (most of the time) work in cmyk (even for rgb output) for fleshtones. the reason being cmyk has shorter ranges than rgb (and for targeted sharpening). Meaning, target curving is more precise (depending on the conditions). One caution: when you do conversions. You have to know what is happening to the image. RGB>CMYK or any kind of conversion for that matter. There are pros and cons in working in rgb,cmyk and LAB for that matter. Knowing and taking the advantage of these color spaces in the whole key. For whatever your output is.


                          • #14
                            Thanks for the links, John...also I need your guide.

                            p.s. Already it's 2 a.m. after I've cleaned up my sister's restaurant.
                            By the way, there's a lot of bad flu about. I wonder what do you folks do to keep in the pink.
                            Take care.


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