Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Color-correcting light skin tones, part of Photoshop CS3 Portrait Retouching Essentials.
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In this movie, I first want to open up our resource file and then I will actually want to apply what we are going do to the image robyn.psd. let's open up the resource file inside the Photoshop, press Command++ to zoom in. For starting it says, we need to find a diffused highlight. Now we are going to set that point, we are going to look at the numbers in the Info palette. We are going to evaluate the numbers and then finally make adjustments. So by way of an overview that's our approach here. Find the highlight, add the point, evaluate some numbers and then modify those numbers with curves.
My hope in pointing this out is just to let you know you have a reference file because it gets a little bit tricky when you actually start to work on this on your own images. Alright, well let's close this file, Command+W on the Mac, Ctrl+W on the PC and go back to the bridge and open up robyn.psd. Press F to go to full-screen view mode and reposition the image to the top part of the screen. You can do that by pressing the spacebar to access the hand tool and reposition the image. Alright, while you notice I've already set an eyedropper point for us there in the image.
If we want to set more points, what we do is we grab the eyedropper and we hold down the Shift key and we click on the image. So, here I've another point on the forehead and I'm looking to set these points next to my diffused highlight not right on that. These highlights are pretty low key so that is going to work but if the highlight is really bright, it won't work because itll have too much white in it, too much brightness, not enough skin. Also, we want to stay away from the cheeks because we can see we have some blush, there is some makeup. So that won't work. Now once we have set our points, we are going to go over here to the Info palette and in the Info palette; we are going to set these eyedroppers to read CMYK numbers.
We can change them by clicking on the eyedropper and choosing CMYK Color. So now both of my eyedroppers are reading the CMYK Color. Now they are also both a little bit different that's OK because skin has a little bit of variation and I'm going to look at both numbers and see how they both work together. Another important thing in regards to the eyedropper is your Sample Size. Currently, my sample size is 5 by 5 Average. Watch as I take this to Point Sample. Look what happens to my numbers, they change pretty significantly.
So what I want to do is have something in it that's at least 5 by 5 average or higher. Why is that? Well, let me zoom in on the image for a moment. When I zoom in on the skin, let's go to the area with some variation. Point sample is the sample of the actual pixel. 5 by 5 would say let's take a 5 by 5 grid, let's look at that color, average that out and then give the numbers based on that average. In this case I'm averaging by 11 by 11 which gives me a pretty accurate representation of the color there.
Alright, double click the Zoom tool to take it back to 100%, spacebar reposition the image. That zoomed in a little bit too much for me so I'm going to press Command+- just so I can have my Curves dialogue window open and still see the image. I'm now ready to apply my curves adjustment. I need to take a look at my CMYK numbers. Whats the problem number in this case? We are noticing that yellow is much lower, in both cases, it is lower than magenta. that's a problem, that number has to be higher than magenta.
So, I'm going to work on my yellow channel or my blue-yellow channel for that matter. My cyan is looking a little bit high as well. So I'm going to have to target that one. So first, I'm going go after those yellows, next I'm going to go after the red-cyan. Go down to the adjustment layer icon and choose Curves. Now that Curves is open, I need to position this in a way that I can see my image and my numbers. Perfect. I want to go for the yellow, which is my blue-yellow channel. I know if I pull this up towards the blue, it becomes blue.
I pull it away from blue, it becomes the opposite color, complementary color which is yellow and I click and drag that point off. Where do I need to set my point? Well, I'm going to click in my image and when I click in my image, it shows me that the skin tone is actually pretty bright. If I want to sample a point in that area, on the Mac I hold down the Command key and I click, PC that's Ctrl+click. Now that I've that point, I can actually use my arrow keys on my keyboard and I'm using those arrow keys and I'm pressing the down arrow key and I'm looking to get that yellow higher than my magenta.
Already, the image looks a ton better, let's look at our before and after. Heres the before, heres the after. The image was cool; we didnt really realize it was cool but now that we see that, we notice that yeah, definitely it was cool and now it is much more neutral, the skin looks pretty good. OK, the next thing that I need to work on is my red-cyan channel. So I go to the red, I bring this towards the word Red right there, it becomes red; away, it becomes cyan. Click and drag that off. Alright, let's go ahead and click on my image and then Command+click or Ctrl+click; Command+click Mac, Ctrl+click PC.
Now that I've that point, what I need to do is I need to reduce my cyan a little bit by adding some red because I need to be able to say 3 by my cyan, let's say right now, 3 by 8 is 24, 5 by 8 is 40. I still don't have enough cyan according to that point. What about point 2? Well, 3 by 5 is 15, 5 by 5 is 25, it is getting close. I will go ahead and take that up a couple more steps here. Now as I do that I notice that I don't have enough yellow.
By adding that red, it reduced this ratio of my yellow there so I need to go back to my yellows. Hit the Blue channel, click on that point to target that point. Now I'm going to increase those. I can even just click and drag this if I want to. Sometimes it is nice to do it a little bit more subtle by using the arrow keys, depends on how far you need to move that point? Alright, my numbers are getting to be in a good place. 3 by 6 is 18. Awesome! Yellow is a little bit higher than magenta. Perfect. let's look at this one; 3 by 4 is 12.
that's great. 5 by 4 is 20. So, I need these numbers to be somewhere between 12% and 20%. That looks really good. My skin tone is color-correct based on this recipe. Now it is just that; it is just a recipe. it is not always going to work; it is not a one-to-one thing. But think of it like a recipe for cooking; how to make a good lasagna? Well you need a certain amount of spaghetti sauce and a certain amount of mozzarella cheese. Well, you can vary that a little bit because skin is incredibly varied.
that's one of the things that makes being a person wonderful, we are all different. Yet these numbers give you a nice guide in order to get your skin color-correct. I will click OK to apply this curves adjustment. Then I'm going to click on the eye icon from my curves adjustment layer to see the before and after. Here is the before, Oh Man! Here is the after. That image looks so much better and I didnt even realize it or maybe you didnt realize it how bad it was. One of the things that this technique will do is it will teach you to see color shifts.
Alright, well I want to apply this technique to other situations and we will do that in the next few movies.
Those wishing to see these skills applied in greater detail may also enjoy Photoshop CS3 Portrait Retouching Techniques.
- Strategizing a retouching workflow
- Correcting color and tone
- Cleaning up images in Camera Raw
- Removing distractions
- Enhancing structure and symmetry
- Reducing and removing wrinkles
- Sculpting facial features and body parts
- Whitening and brightening teeth
- Changing eyes
- Smoothing skin