Color Correction in Lightroom
Illustration by Richard Downs

Correcting skin tones in a portrait


Color Correction in Lightroom

with Taz Tally

Video: Correcting skin tones in a portrait

In this project, we're going to do a color correction on a portrait-based image. So, by moving our whites up,
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  1. 2m 20s
    1. Welcome
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 40s
  2. 7m 18s
    1. Overview of color correction tools in Lightroom
      4m 17s
    2. Using virtual copies for color-adjustment variations
      3m 1s
  3. 10m 40s
    1. Setting up the interface for color adjustments
      4m 33s
    2. Setting up the color tools
      1m 45s
    3. Using Lightroom's soft proofing
      4m 22s
  4. 29m 9s
    1. Understanding how the histogram displays tone
      7m 51s
    2. Understanding how the histogram displays color
      4m 35s
    3. Identifying color casts with histograms and the Info tool
      6m 54s
    4. Measuring skin tones
      5m 50s
    5. Using target-based measurements
      3m 59s
  5. 51m 54s
    1. Understanding the interaction of Lightroom's histogram and tone panels
      8m 27s
    2. Adjusting color balance with the Temperature and Tint tools
      5m 51s
    3. Avoiding highlight and shadow clipping
      6m 58s
    4. Adjusting color balance using the Info tool and the Tone panel
      8m 19s
    5. Using Lightroom's automated adjustment tools
      5m 42s
    6. Adjusting overall brightness and contrast
      6m 21s
    7. Using targets for color correction
      4m 0s
    8. Challenge: Evaluating and correcting color
      1m 2s
    9. Solution: Evaluating and correcting color
      5m 14s
  6. 1h 8m
    1. Evaluating and correcting critical highlights, shadows, and contrast areas in landscapes
      7m 28s
    2. Working with near neutrals and images with no neutrals
      6m 42s
    3. Correcting skin tones in a portrait
      5m 37s
    4. Correcting a faded image
      7m 54s
    5. Adding pop to product images
      7m 58s
    6. Making curve-based color correction adjustments
      7m 40s
    7. Color correcting product shots
      7m 12s
    8. Making creative adjustments
      5m 45s
    9. Automating adjustments
      4m 34s
    10. Challenge: Identifying and correcting a color cast
      1m 2s
    11. Solution: Identifying and correcting a color cast
      6m 54s
  7. 1m 26s
    1. Next steps
      1m 26s

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Watch the Online Video Course Color Correction in Lightroom
2h 55m Advanced May 30, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Lightroom is a great choice for color correction. In this course, photographer and educator Taz Tally details the concepts, tools, and techniques behind correcting and enhancing color in Lightroom. Learn to evaluate the color in an image with the Develop module tools, Lightroom's histograms, and (crucially) your own eyes. Then discover how to use the color correction tools to balance and tone adjust an image, using tried and true techniques like neutralization and color ratios. Taz then takes you through a variety of color correction scenarios, from improving landscapes, fixing skin tones, and recovering faded images to making product shots pop, removing color casts, and making creative color adjustments.

Topics include:
  • Setting up Lightroom for color correction
  • Identifying color cast
  • Measuring skin tones
  • Adjusting color balance
  • Adjusting overall brightness and contrast
  • Using targets for color correction
  • Using histograms, the Info panel, and Curves
  • Making creative adjustments
  • Automating color correction
Taz Tally

Correcting skin tones in a portrait

In this project, we're going to do a color correction on a portrait-based image. And we're going to use these two portrait images, one of Karin, and one of Taz. We're going to use Karin as kind of our sample image of what a good skin tone looks like. We've got two stars applied to them by pressing the 2 key. And let's go ahead and just isolate those two images so we simplify our view on screen. And let's go first to Karin, now let's open her up with the Develop module and just to review what a good healthy skin tone looks like, let's put our Eyedropper over there and take a look at those RGB values.

Red should be greater than green should be greater than blue. And then you have about equal separation between the red-green and the green-blue. That's the foundation for this. Then you can fine tune from there as to whether you want things to look a little bit redder. Or a little bit greener depending upon the skin tone, or the lighting, and the nationality and so forth. So, in this case we've got red 82, green 75, we've got our 7 points of separation there. And then 75 to 67, we've got about 7, 8 points of separation there. So, that's a good healthy skin tone.

Red greater than green, greater than blue, it's about equal separation between them. Alright, so using that as kind of our guide. Let's take a look at this portrait image, and first of all we see that it's a relatively low key image, we can see that here. We have almost no data in the image at all in the highlight and the quarter tone. Start to see a little bit of data here. Looks like it's broken up, so it's probably some noise and a little bit of tail here. All right. So we know we've got some brightening to do, but we want to do color correction first. Now, there really are no neutrals in this image that we can use.

There might be some in the background, but the background's not a concern. This image is all about the skin tone. So let's just go dive right in. And take a look at the skin tones. All right, we've got 48, 43, 42, 48, 43, 43, 47, 42, 41. So, it looks like the red green separation is pretty good. It's all right. It's about five points of separation. But the green blue is just too close. Now, we could raise the green instead of lowering the blue. But we want to keep some good separation between the green and the red. 'because there's only about five points there.

So let's go ahead and lower the blue. So we can choose a representative area. Should be as well lit as possible. And then adjust the blue values to suit. So let's click here to select the temperature field. And then we'll look at our values. And then we'll just lower our blue values here, while we watch the RGB values. You can see what this does is it actually raises the red and green in relationship to the blue. Now, here we have about 54, 55, 47 and then about 41 for the blue.

So, now we've got good separation between the green and the blue. We've got about five or six points of separation there, and we've got about seven points of separation between the red and the green. That's a good adjustment. And you can see by looking at the RGB values and taking the time to evaluate that and deciding, oh, okay, the blue is a little bit too high. And then deciding whether it was the green that was too low or the blue that was too low. There was decent separation between the green and the red. So we decided to lower the blue. All right, so the color correction is basically done.

Then we need to redistribute our tonal values after the color correction is done. So, we'll move down here to white. We don't want to use exposure because, remember, if you use exposure it moves everything over and it lightens the whole image too much, including too much of the background. Alright, so, we'll come down to the whites. And, let's Option+Alt, and see where the lightest portion of this image is. Now, there's really no diffuse, white highlight here, at all. We just want to make sure that none of these areas have too much data. Or too high a data values in there. So we've raised it too high and now we're just going to lower it.

Select the whites field, and just use my down arrow until the highest values in there drop below 95%. There we go. Not trying to create a neutral white highlight, it's red and green or higher than the blue. Which it should be because teeth tend to be a little bit yellow. I just want to make sure that nothing blows out, we don't have any hard areas or flat areas in the image. So, we've lightened the image and then we can look at the background and do the same thing we did before. Hold down the Option key, Alt in Windows, and see where the darkest portions of this image are.

There we go. And we can select the blacks field. Now, this is less critical in terms of values. This is all going to fill in. There's no detail here, preserved, but we can raise this if we want to maintain some detail in the background. See, as we raise the value of the blacks, a little bit of detail comes up, but we're also lightening the background. So, is it critical to maintain detail there? No. But we probably just don't want to have any really big solid black areas. Alright, so we just make a little bit of a plus five to plus eight adjustment on the background. So, by moving our whites up, we've really isolated the foreground image from the background keeping this dark.

You could come in here just work on the shadows and darken the background just a little bit more, as you can see there, just to isolate that foreground portrait a little bit. And again, the RGB values in the background are not nearly as important as of course, what we've been doing working in the foreground. And then finally, you could increase or decrease contrast to this image. I would be more likely to decrease contrast just a little bit. Because it's a facial skin tone, just to lower the contrast in the skin because you don't want the skin to be very harsh. Okay, well there we go and we hit a Y key to do a comparison between before and after and you can see, when you first look at this you thought, oh it's dark but the skin tone is okay, but you can see how much better the skin tone looks.

When you actually take the chance to adjust those RGB values to get the red greater than green greater than blue, you end up with some really nice looking skin tones. Remember, color first and then tone.

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