Skin tone struggles

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TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2352
Skin tone struggles

I've really been trying to get my skin tones right in my images, but this weekend I took some photos of my kids and my best friend in a meadow and forest, and wow, I'm having an awful time getting them right!

Here is one example. This is SOOC:

So I added a bunch of red and a bit of yellow and it 'seems' to be OK when I test with the color picker from her left cheek:
Wildflower Wonder

But to my eye, it looks like it has a strong yellow color cast (the meadow was FULL of dandelions and it was bright sun to her immediate left) and her hair looks red.

Most of the images I'm struggling with have something like that going on. Either they seem to be OK if I check the ratios, but look off, OR they are OK in parts, but totally out of whack on others.

So my question is: when you're trying to get skin right in challenging situations, with strong color casts or shadows, etc., what part of the skin do you most focus on? I've been checking RGB ratios with the area of the face that most quickly leaps to the eye when you look at the image, but as in this example of Nora, they often still look 'off' to me. Suggestions??!!

AmberBella's picture
Joined: 02/15/07
Posts: 1831

ETA: For checking color ratios, I choose the point on the skin that is most representative of the color of the face overall. However, in the case of a color cast, you can clearly tell that there is a color cast that is not affecting her whole face. Global corrections don't fix color casts...they affect the whole photo. You must work with masks when correcting color casts.

This is a really easy fix in Photoshop, but I don't know about Gimp.

In photoshop, create a Hue/Saturation layer. Then select "Yellows" in the dropdown box. Click on the eyedropper in the Hue/Saturation box. Use the eyedropper to click on the most offensive color on the face. Then select the eyedropper with the minus sign and use this eyedropper to click on the part of the skin with the best color. Then use the sliders to adjust the hue of the selected color range and also use the saturation tool to reduce the saturation of it. Voila! Color cast removed.

If this is not possible in Gimp, then maybe this is.

Create a Selective Color layer. Choose Yellows in the drop down box and then use the sliders to reduce the yellow in the image. Mask out the areas that you want to remain unaffected.

I tried out both methods for this photo and the results were similar. I actually prefer the results I got from the Selective Color method, though I usually prefer the Hue/Saturation method for removing color casts.

TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2352

Thanks, Amber! That's helpful information. It doesn't seem to work either way in GIMP, but if I know how you do it in PhotoShop, I can usually figure it out by googling the "GIMP" version.

I sure would like PS instead, though!

Joined: 10/26/01
Posts: 3413

Sorry you are struggling w/ this, Tracy. This is something I struggle with so I'm no help, but at least I can feel your pain. Beee

Hang in there and keep trying.

Just don't do like I do and convert to b&w every time you get stuck. Wink


Ladybugsteph's picture
Joined: 06/21/06
Posts: 2977

I hate color casts! Sounds like you got some great advice from Amber. I will actually have to try that out sometime myself. Have you figured it out in GIMP yet?

TracyF's picture
Joined: 08/14/06
Posts: 2352

I haven't figured it out in GIMP, haven't had the chance to try it; but I did a bit of reading which will help me move in the right direction, at least. Based on Amber's helpful tips, I just have to find the right GIMP-ified method!