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Review the scanning techniques graphics professionals and photographers use, while delving into workflow considerations and the advanced image-quality controls available in most scanning software. Author Taz Tally explains the core concepts, such as how resolution and interpolation affect scans; introduces the industry-standard SilverFast scanning software; and shares the settings to achieve the best results from a scan. The course also covers keeping your scanner and its parts clean and free of dust, and includes a variety of start-to-finish scanning tasks.
In this exercise, we're going to discuss scanning a color portrait and particularly about setting highlights and shadows and brightness and contrast and getting skin tone correct. If you haven't already performed the previous exercise on the grayscale portrait, I would really encourage you to go start there because a lot of the fundamental techniques and concepts that we use for scanning portraits apply to grayscale and it's a great place to start. An assumption here in this exercise we've already selected our Scan Type 48 -> 24 Bit. We're not going to be doing any sharpening just yet. We're going to name the portrait Kim_Portrait_RGB.
We're going to go to the highest quality output device. we're going to have a resolution of 300. Your resolution, of course, will change based upon your output device and what kind of scaling you have. But we've already preset all of this and if you have any questions about how to set that please refer to the previous videos on these topics of framing and resolution. All right, So let's start by evaluating our image. Just like in any other image, we do a visual evaluation and identify most important points in the image. The first one here is, of course, the face and the skin tone. We want to make sure we get the right balance of colors and also we want to get the right balance of skin tone.
And other important portions of this image, of course, are white highlights, particularly if we want to get the white shirt in the right tonal value, but we want to get the right color balance, we want it to be neutral. It should be neutral white, which means the RGB values are going to be equal. In terms of shadows, we probably have the shadow values either back in here or down here for critical shadows. We'll look in the hair. we want to make sure good tonal values in the hair so it's not too dark so the hair doesn't fill in. So to start our evaluation of highlights and shadows which is where we start, where we do highlights and shadows first, and then we address skin tones, we go to portrait and then overall brightness and contrast.
So the tool I love to use here is this tool right here that allows me when I click on the white, it shows me the whitest portion of the image. Notice that little red bull's-eye shows up on the shirt and then the dark area right down there in the jacket. And the really cool thing is when I hold down my Shift key, if I click on that white highlight, boom! I get a color sampler point in the white highlight which brings up this Fixed Pipette, which if you're used to working in Photoshop, this occurs in the Info panel. In SilverFast, the Info panel is called the Densitometer. Remember, a lot of these terminologies come from prepress and they've kind of made it into the SilverFast dialog box.
But it's the same thing we have in Photoshop, just different name slightly. And then we'll Shift+click on the shadow to set the shadow point. So now we've got our critical highlight and shadow points and perhaps the most critical point in this image is going to be the skin tone and we're going to Shift and click to set our third point there. Sometimes I'll even set two points in the skin tone if I've got kind of like unequal lighting. But here the lighting is pretty good all the way across the face. So I'm just going to set one here, and then we can set one up in the dark hair area just to check to make sure those values don't get too dark.
So let's go after the highlights and shadows first because that's kind of the order in which we do things. For color portraits, highlights, shadows, skin tones, and then we'll do overall brightness and contrast. Once again, I'd like to emphasize we're using manual tools, not automatic tools, and you really learned how the scanner works and how to do the corrections manually. And listen, once you learn how to do it manually, you can take selective use of automatic tools once you understand what they're doing and you can properly evaluate whether they're working correctly or not. Instead of doing everything in curves like we often do in Photoshop, in SilverFast, we kind of separate the highlights and shadow adjustments using the levels and then we do the brightness and contrast using curves.
So let's just dive right in and look at our histogram. And if you've done the grayscale portrait, you'll notice this looks quite a bit different. Instead of having one histogram, we have three because we knew that an RGB color image is really a sandwich of three grayscale images. Now what's different about working with a color portrait versus a grayscale portrait is we now have three channels to address. And with white diffuse highlights like in the shirt, and if we've got a black jacket and we know that's neutral as well, a white and black at both ends of the tonal scale, then we know we want to get this close to about 5%, maybe 6%, 7% if you're using an inkjet like I do for most of my final output these days.
We know that we want the RGB values to be equal here. When we look at the number one point in the Info panel, the Fixed Pipette panel that we have here, notice it says 221, 216, 215. Just the way the raw scan is done here, we can see there is a little bit of a red cast here. All right, The Green and Blue are actually almost equal, but the Red is a little bit high. And interestingly, when we look at this image on the screen, you can see the skin looks a little red, doesn't it? I mean just qualitatively. It looks a little red. So when I'm evaluating this, I'm not just looking at my highlights right now, but I'm thinking, boy, that red might be a little bit too red to have a natural looking skin tone.
So I'm going to keep that in mind as I move forward when I start to take a look at the skin tones, bit of a red flag for me. What I want to do in this white diffuse highlight is I want to have all these RGB values equal and I want them to be in between 5 and 7 in terms of my highlight value. You can choose where you want to be in that range of 5-7 based upon what kind of printing you use. Most commercial printing companies can hold a 5% white highlight, no problem. Some inkjets may be you go up to 6 or 7 and you can decide, and we'll set our goal here at about 240 which is between 5 and 6% white highlight.
And the way we do this is instead of just setting a master channel highlight and shadow. we're going to work on the individual channels. So I'm going to click up here on the histogram on the Red Channel so we just display the red channel. And then watching these values right here and these are the before and after values, I'm going to click on here and I'm going to move this up until we get to just about 239 or 240. All right, While we're in the Red Channel, let's go ahead and do point number two as well. You know what, for this particular image, because we've got so much shadow area there, I want to make sure whatever detail is there, I want to make sure that it's maintained.
So I'm going to set this at about 20 which is between about 90-92% shadow point. Then I'm going to do this for each of the three channels. Now we're going to watch this value right here, the resultant green. I'm going to slide the highlight until that's at about 240 as well and bring the green up. And we're assuming that this is neutral, we can see we've got a neutral black jacket here, we'll set that at about 20 and then we'll go the Blue Channel and we'll do the same thing. I'm watching this value right there. I'm going to set that at 239, 240. Here we go! See this here? I'm pulling this up and we're moving into the data a little bit.
Sometimes you don't know if the histogram data right on this end is actually part of the image or if it's a little bit of noise in the image, that's one of the reasons why we do this by the numbers. And remember, we're going after the critical parts of this image. Skin tone, diffuse white highlights, those are the two key portions of this image. Unless this is a product shot for the jacket, the jacket is kind of secondary in terms of importance. So we're really going to optimize skin tone and white shirt because those are going to pop to the eye. So now we've set our highlights and let's do our shadow and the blue, make sure we've finished that up and get that equal to about 20.
All right, There we go! So we've set our highlights and shadows and notice our image is overall brighter now because we've done a little bit of tone compression. I'm going to click OK, and now we're going to move into curves to discuss and adjust our skin tone. Why, because with curves, you have much more control over the entire midtone than you do with levels. Yes, there's a midtone level adjustment, but we can do a lot more here because we have almost an infinite number points along this curve that we can use for adjustments.
So here's our highlight, here's our shadow. we can just take a quick look at point number four. We've got plenty of detail back here. All right, Notice the red is higher but it should be because it's kind of auburn hair. We're going to focus right here on these values which are the skin tone values and we want to make sure that we have real natural values for our skin tones. Now what we're looking for is not a neutral. A neutral means pure gray, like this white or this black. But for human skin tones and of course, you know we have a wide variety of skin tones because of different nationalities, from different parts of the world, nobody has exactly the same skin tones.
So there is some variation but there's something common to just about everybody. Red is greater than Green is greater than Blue when we're doing RGB values for skin tones. It's another great reason to do our color correction in RGB versus CMYK because this is really easy to remember. You just remember Red-Green-Blue. Red is greater than Green is greater than Blue. Now the question is, what are the ratios? Well, look at the separation we have here between the Blue and the Green. And you remember, let's just take a little side trip back to when we were talking about the highlight here, remember, we said that the Green and the Blue were just about the same on the highlight? That gave me some confidence.
The Green and Blue values were pretty close to being right because they were both neutral in the highlight. I'm going to take look at this separation here and make sure there's a substantial separation. And there is. Typically, you're on a midtone or maybe a little bit lighter like we've got here, I'm going to look for a good 20 points of separation. As we move towards darker areas of the tonal ranges of skin tones, that separation is going to decrease, but you just have got a good 20 points of separation. That's great. And then what we want to look for here is we want to have more than 20 points of separation, and sure we do.
180 to 220 is 20 points, 200 to 232 is about two-and-a-half times of it, so that's great. What range do we want to have here? Well, this is actually not too bad. I might want to lower the red just a little bit. Here we've got 180 to 200, the maximum we would ever want to have on any natural skin tone I've better seen would maybe do two times of the difference between the Green and the Blue. So we wouldn't want to have any more than 40 points, like a 240 here. So around at 230 is good, maybe a little bit, maybe we'll lower this a little bit. So I'm going to go to the Red channel and I'm going to hold down my Command key because I'm going to move all those points down, maybe down to about 225.
225, 226, 227, somewhere just lower maybe about five points because we started up about 231, 232. So I'm going to take it down, I'm just going to lower just a little bit. And notice just visually, assuming we're working on a calibrated monitor and we're getting reasonable display feedback here, I'm going to say I like this 229, 228, we've taken a little bit of that red hotness out of the red, the skin tone, we back things off just a little bit. But I'm using my numbers to really drive my decisions here.
We've got 20 points of separation. 180 to 200, and if we take another 20 points that would be 200 to 220. And then if we add ten more points, we're up to 230 so we're a little bit above that two-and-a-half times. So I'm backing off about five points here and look at the difference, just watch it on screen and you can see it. When we're up here, we had 231, 232. See the redness and then I just back it off just a little bit. And notice that it just takes some of that hot value out of there.
It doesn't take much, sometimes just a little bit of subtle change. By the way, if you hold down the Shift key as you do this, you won't be moving left or right. You would just be moving vertically and you do this which is typically what you want to do. So we'll move that down to thee, four, five points, something like that so that we're more than two times, but not a lot more than two times. And that's a good-looking natural skin tone. Now if we want to do a little bit of overall brightness and contrast adjustment, we move out of the individual channels and go to the master channel. And if I want to move things up a little bit on the master channel, I'm going to hold down my Command key and I'm just going to move the whole thing up a little bit.
I'm doing this with my curve, you can also use the slider here, remember, to move that up a few points just to overall lighten my image, and you can see the impact on screen. And as we talked about, we typically like to decrease contrast a little bit on our grayscale contone portrait images, the same thing for color. You don't want to increase contrast. you don't want to do something like this, because here that makes the skin tones kind of harsh. If anything you might want to just back off just a little bit. If we just use the contrast adjustment which darkens the highlights and lightens the quarter tone, you can do it that way.
Although I would probably choose in this case to use my Command key or my Three Quarter-Tone tool here and I'm going to put that up just about four points, maybe take it from 0 to -5 just to lighten the three-quarter tone area to create a little bit more separation here. And as far as the quarter tone is concerned, I take my Highlights slider. Notice when I move my Highlights slider to the left, it darkens the highlight just a little bit which flattens out the skin tone. You want to be very careful here. No more than maybe just -2 and -3, just to increase that overall softening of the tonal values across the skin tone.
I'm always checking back here to make sure we don't have a lot of movement. All right, Notice we've got 188 to 205, 205 to 230. no real change in the highlight values here. Our Shadow values, notice that we've gone from 20 to 24 here. Honestly, I'm not going to worry about it because this is not a critical part of the image so I'm not going to spend a lot of time on that, and it's only a 1% change. So it's unlike to be visible visually. If it were a product shot and I was trying to get the jacket just right, then I'll be more anal about it. But in this particular case, it's all about the portraits, it's all about the skin tones, and it's all about the highlights. Well, there we go! Now we've done our tonal correction, color correction, we've gotten the skin tone, the highlights and shadows, we've done overall brightness and contrast.
But just do a quick check to make sure we've got our Scan Type no sharpening, got the name correct, good the good frame, 300 pixels per inch, ready to complete the scan. And we'll save this image out with a proper name and up comes our image in Photoshop. I'm kind of anal about this, so I would just come in here and do a quick check and notice we've got the highlights and the high 230s, low 240s, terrific skin tones, Red greater than Green greater than Blue, got nice shadow detail, the three quarter-tone detail back up in here, get everything in the low 20s in the black shadow.
Here we go!
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