I use Photoshop CS4 but I think most of what I'm doing is possible on most photo editing programs.
First, open your image and find the color sampler tool. In CS4 it is in the same place as the eye dropper tool and the ruler tool. Find the "sample size" box in the top bar and make sure it's not a point sample. I like 11 by 11 average for close up images and 5 by 5 for full body shots.
Then select a good representative spot on the skin. One that represents the color of the face the best. Don't use the cheeks, nose, or chin because they are naturally more red/magenta than the rest of the face. The forehead and temples are great spots.
After you click on that spot the info box should pop up and tell you the technical color information for the spot you clicked. Look for the #1 with the little eyedropper next to it. Currently the colors will read for RGB color space. Click on that little dropper and select CMYK from the drop down menu. Check those percentages. For normal Caucasian skin, yellow and magenta should be about equal percentages...or yellow slightly higher than magenta...and cyan should be about half.
I like to do the same thing for other skin parts...arms, tummy, necks, what have you.
Break down of numbers:
C = cyan The higher this percentage the more cyan, the lower...more red.
M = magenta The higher this percentage, the more magenta, the lower... more green.
Y = Yellow The higher this percentage, the more yellow, the lower....more blue.
K = Black - this is almost always 0. I have occasionally had 1 or 2 here.
Good example percentages for Caucasian skin would be:
C - 12%
M - 24%
Y - 26%
K - 0%
If your percentages are off, make a color balance layer. My example photo was too high in both red and magenta. This is where you have to get creative. Don't alter the color in just midtones...you need to alter highlights, midtones, and shadows to get the color just right. Sometimes I'll have to add blue to the highlights and remove yellow from the shadows.
I always start with the midtones and adjust slightly against my most incorrect percentage. Here the red is much too high and I know that if I lower the red, the magenta will probably go down some too. Next I go to my highlights and reduce a little red there. I can see that my shadows have too much magenta, so in the shadow sliders I slide my magenta slider towards green a touch. I tweak until I'm satisfied both by the numbers and my eyes.
In my example, you can see that the percentages for 1, 2, and 4 are all good now, but #3 now has too much yellow. SO, I mask out that portion from my color balance layer....use the lasso tool to select the tummy area, feather the selection slightly, and make a new color balance layer. I added blue to the midtones and highlights to fix those percentages.
I can also unmask other places that look too yellow, like the shadow under baby's chin.
Voila! That's about it. I know it sounds like a lot...but once you get used to it, it's nothing...just a normal part of the workflow. Doesn't take much more than an extra minute or two...even for the most off colors. The cool thing about this method is that it's a good check, even if your calibrated. Sometimes our eyes get used to seeing things off...and these numbers don't lie.
Notes: Sometimes you have to work through something that looks really off to get the photo to look right. Don't forget that sometimes the only way to get the color right is to adjust the shadows one way and the highlights and or midtones in a completely opposite way. ALSO, sometimes someone is naturally a little pinker or more yellow...these numbers aren't set in stone, just a guide. When I edited Katie's little girl, I always kept her magenta color 1-2 percent higher than the yellow...she's just a pink little girl.
Hope this all makes sense. Play around. Have fun! I'd love to see some before and afters!
Last edited by AmberBella; 06-06-2009 at 10:11 AM.
Ahhhh you are a goddess! Thanks. This is super-helpful, especially your tips on masking.
I am a loser with PSE only, and you can't work with CMYK there. So I dug around and found this tutorial: http://www.photokaboom.com/photograp...guidelines.htm
Seems pretty hit-or-miss, but what are you gonna do?
Thanks again Amber. You rock.
You rock Amber!!! This is awesome and thanks so much for taking the time to explain this!
Kristen & Donnie, 2005
Jackson Thomas, 10.08, & Colby Jameson, 5.11
Kristen Privett Photography
I. Heart. You.
I want to read it all and all the other posts from the day,but I am busy in preparation for the girls' princess party tomorow. I will have 14 kids over here all dressed up like princes and princesses.
This will be a big help. Can't wait to see the pictures that goes along with it. Lol, I am more visual.
-El mommy to B & A
Just chug-chug-chugging along.
AWESOME. Thanks a million!
Amber thank you so very much for the tutorial you are awsome
Thanks! That will be very helpful once I get CS4, soon very soon. One of the things you can't do in Elements.
Amber you said "For normal Caucasian skin, yellow and magenta should be about equal percentages...or yellow slightly higher than magenta...and red should be about half."
do you mean cyan should be about half?