Week 3 – Skin tones

How to get pleasing skin tones

“When it comes to skin, however, it’s about a pleasing tone. The customer wants to look good and she’s allergic to red.”

  • 90% of all you need to know is that you can never let the yellow % fall below magenta% on anyone’s skin unless you’re trying to show sunburn.
  • Your camera may capture images with less yellow than magenta in skin
  • Skin specific presets and can be downloaded for Adobe Lightroom

Reasonable magenta & yellow values

  • A fair-skinned pinkish baby could be as light as 15% magenta, 16% yellow.
  • Most Caucasians fall in the range of 5-20% more yellow than magenta.
  • A fair-skinned Caucasian adult could be as low as 20% magenta, 25% yellow.
  • A bronzed Caucasian could be as high as 45% magenta, 62% yellow.
  • Asian and Hispanic skin will typically have 10-20% higher yellow than magenta.
  • We find that it’s easy to oversaturate African American skin, so be careful there. Yellow and magenta values should be fairly close. We agree with Lee Varis, in that you might find a yellow bias in African-American skin, which will not look good in print.

The surprising power of cyan

  • On pleasing photos, cyan usually falls between 30% to 50% of the magenta value.
  • Less than 30% of magenta makes sunburn
  • More than 50% of magenta makes makes them ghostly blue.

Accomplishing pleasing skin tones using Photo Shop

This is the original image I intend to try and improve upon. The image has been converted cmyk in order to adjust for print. Using the info window and eye dropper tool, I chose a represenatitive area to sample in this case the forhead of the child. As you can see the yellow levels are lower than magenta which is generally a no go unless trying present sunburn.

  • Cyan – 43%
  • Magenta – 56%
  • Yellow – 49%

Here is the edited image after adjustments were made using curves. The values now stand as follows.

  • Cyan – 35%
  • Magenta -50%
  • Yellow -60%

I finished with the my chosen final values after a little experimentation to see what worked for this particular photo, Whilst trying to maintain typical values for the relevant skin tone . In the final image the yellow values are 20% higher than magenta as would be guided with caucasians. Although the Cyan levels do not fall between 30% and 50% of magenta levels they seemed to look most pleasing as they are.

I repeated the previous editing process with my own image, this is the original unedited image.

I again made use of the info window as a reference to help me achieve typical caucasian values fit for print


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