Easy Skin Tone Fix (Photoshop)

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: March 11, 2020

Category: Tutorial

For this post I just wanted to share a simple, quick and effective technique I use for fixing skin tones, as I did in this recent portrait I took of World War 2 Veteran, Edward ‘Ted’ Jacobs who served in RAF Bomber Command as a Rear Gunner on Lancaster Bombers…

This portrait I took of Ted at his home in Worthing and below you can see the ‘out of camera’ picture showing the reddening in his hands, so  for the final version (above) I reduced that a little:

Step 1

With the image open in Photoshop, choose a Hue / Saturation Adjustment Layer.

If you can’t see the Adjustment Layers then go to Window > Adjustments.

You’ll now have a Hue / Saturation Adjustment Layer added to the top of the layer stack and will see its properties…

Step 2

In the properties open the Master menu and change to Reds.

Notice that when you do this you now have some markers appear on the gradient bars at the bottom of the properties panel…

Step 3

Click on the far left (outer) or far right (outer) market and drag inwards so that they are all bunched up close together and then click on the Add to Sample tool…

Now just incase you didn’t know, the two coloured gradients you see at the bottom of the properties section represent the colour wheel (if you think of it having been stretched lengthways).

The top gradient remains completely static whereas when you move the Hue slider left and right you’ll notice that the bottom gradient moves. This basically shows that when you move the Hue slider, the colours in the top gradient are being changed to the colours directly below in the bottom gradient; you’ll see exactly what I mean in a moment.

Step 4

With the Add to Sample tool active bring your cursor over onto Ted’s hands then click / press down and whilst keeping held down drag the cursor all over the hands.

As you do this notice how the markers that we just pushed together have now moved apart. This is where Photoshop is basically saying to us that all of the different colours / tones in the hands that you’ve just dragged over are the ones directly above and within the markers…

Step 5

Now that the markers are positioned so that the only colours / tones within our picture that will be affected by anything we do within the Hue / Saturation properties are those directly above and between them, all we need to do now is use the Hue Slider to reduce the Red in Ted’s hands.

For me to do this I simply moved the Hue slider to the right to around +11.

Looking at the hands I also felt the saturation needed to be lowered a little, so I dragged the Saturation slider to the left to -3

Notice how the position of the bottom gradient has changed slightly too to show what the colours / tones above (the top gradient) have now become (bottom gradient)…

The result of these adjustments to the Hue and Saturation you can see below…

Step 6

One last thing…

When we make these adjustments, because we are using an Adjustment Layer, it has with it a layer mask. This layer mask is white which means we can see the result of the adjustments we make, however these adjustments we make are affecting the entire picture and anywhere in it that contains the colours / tones directly above and between the markers.

So that we only see the result of the adjustments on Ted’s hands, all we need to do is to click on the layer mask in the Layers Panel and then go to Image > Adjustments > Invert, or simply do the keyboard shortcut by holding down the CTRL (Windows) or Command (Mac) and pressing the letter ‘I’ on the keyboard. This changes the white layer mask into a black layer mask.

Black layer masks conceal what is on that particular layer so to only reveal the change of colour / tone in Ted’s hands we just need to get a brush and with a white foreground colour paint over them.

Oh and you may also notice that I shorted the nail on Ted’s thumb and also concealed the two fingers.

Hope that’s useful.

As always if you have any questions / comments then feel free to make use of the comments section below, otherwise I’ll catch you next time.

Cheers
Glyn

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2 Comments

  1. Nils

    Another marvelous portrait! The only question for me is how you get this incredible background?
    I can’t find it in your packages. Is it real canvas or photoshop?

    Greetings!

    Reply
    • Glyn Dewis

      Hi Nils

      Thanks for commenting.
      The background is my Vintage Grey by Westcott; here’s the link to my Gear page where you can see it listed so you know what it is: https://glyndewis.com/gear/

      Regards
      Glyn

      Reply

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