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CMYK value for skin tone?

Todd phillip , Jul 14, 2007; 10:32 a.m.

I have been trying to adjust the yellow to magenta using curves...but some how I am not effecting the ratio between the two... My attempt is to increase yellow and maintain Magetna...which seems to me to be a simple process yet I am increasing both even though i am just ajusting the yellow in cmky mode??

Any ideas of what I may be doing wrong?


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Patrick Lavoie , Jul 14, 2007; 10:37 a.m.

Response to CMKY vaule adjustment for skin tone

i never, never retouched in CMYK, always in RGB.

But to answer your question, use a curve and go into the yellow section.

Also make sure your screen is calibarted with a device, so you can judge by eye how the skin look, and if you like it. There is some recipe to get skin tone, but honestly caucasian people for exemple have not the same *recipe* in the flesh tone, so it could be hard to follow one of them by number only.

Anthony R , Jul 14, 2007; 11:15 a.m.

Response to CMKY vaule adjustment for skin tone

google color correcting by the numbers

Ellis Vener , Jul 14, 2007; 12:15 p.m.

why are you working in CMYK?

Anthony R , Jul 14, 2007; 12:21 p.m.

He doesn't say that he is working in CMYK...

There are many reasons why someone might do so and it used to be the norm. He could however just be looking for the correct CMYK numbers whilst working in RGB.

Todd, you can use whatever color correction tool you wish. If you are having trouble with curve adjustments to get what you want, try selective color or some such. Keep your info pallette open and placed over where you wish to take readings. Also, take the color picker off of point sample if you are using it.

Patrick Lavoie , Jul 14, 2007; 12:33 p.m.

Yes he does <...i am just ajusting the yellow in cmky mode..>

ajusting the yellow in CMYK MODE..it seem pretty clear to me?! How could you use a curve in CMYK without being in CMYK?


it used to be the norm when calibrated screen where not existing and people related on match print ; )

there are certainly many reason why someone would want to correct in CMYK...but i dont know much that are good enough to convince me not to retouch a RGB file on a calibrated screen, using in need, a preview in CMYK that have been setup to my commercial press, ink and paper type.

Since that there is not a *standart* CMYK recipe for skin tone, you migth be better to retouch for what you like, for a mood, for what you consider normal etc..using a calibrated screen.




are the kind of tools you migth need to use...in RGB.

B Christopher , Jul 14, 2007; 12:46 p.m.

I've noticed similar symptoms when color correcting. On all skin images, the magenta is influenced by the yellow adjustment, some more than others. I don't know why this happens, nor do I really care to learn it today, but I have noticed that the effect is less apparent when the sample size of the color sampler tool is increased to 5 by 5 average, and not 3 by 3 average. One other technique is to move the sample point to a different position, near the original position, then making adjustments. It seems to me that with some images, especially underexposed images that have been brought up in processing, you just have to go back and forth on the yellow and magenta adjustments until you get the desired values. Much luck.

Anthony R , Jul 14, 2007; 02:53 p.m.

Patrick, you are right. He is in CMYK. He may not have an RGB file however. Whether or not it is the norm anymore, those without CMYK retouching abilities (high end retouchers) are lacking very much - a big hole in their skillset. I don't know if this is true for you, but I run into quite regularly in junior retouchers here in NYC.

While there is not particular exact numbers/standard there ARE numbers and values and ratios to use as a guideline adjusted for personal taste and mood.

Anyway, Howard says some very good things here.

Howard Owen, Mar 05, 2007; 05:11 a.m. Correcting skin tones in CMYK is an excellent idea. There are, in fact, numerous color corrections that can be accomplished in CMYK (or LAB) that simply cannot be duplicated in RGB. However, for skin, there is no need to *convert* to CMYK, you can just use the Info Palette with a CMYK readout. Here is a little post from Kevin Breckenridge on the percentages:

Matching skin tones has driven many scanner operators into retirement.

There is no magic formula or CMYK breakdown, but here are some general rules that have worked for me over the years.

First let me state the obvious, every person has a unique skin tone color, even within specific ethnic groups the variety is limitless. Unfortunately CMYK, and offset printing only allows us a fraction of choices, and equally unfair you are often forced to stereotype people with specific CMYK break downs to trigger those every present memory colors hard wired in our brains.

Take a look around the room, Caucasian, Asian, African American, Hispanic, East Indian, and Native American, all in reality don't have nearly the saturation of color we see in photographs and publications. So we have to cheat a little to give these images some punch, after all who wants a bunch of pasty smiling people on the cover of their magazine anyway!

A good rule of thumb for most skin tones is to have the magenta trail the yellow and the cyan trail the magenta, very little black even in African American people. Black should only serve to add density to a prominent shadow areas, if you have too much it will neutralize what color you have when it hits the press, those pressman always run up the Black so the text looks sharp.

Here come the stereotypical portion of color correcting skin tones:

When I set up a scan for Caucasian people the Magenta trails the Yellow slightly and the Cyan in less than half of the Magenta.

If I sample a quarter tone area the CMYK might look like this: Cyan: 10 Magenta: 25 Yellow: 30 Black: 0

Asian people get a little more of everything plus a slightly higher separation between the Magenta and Yellow.

If I sample a quarter tone - mid tone area the CMYK might look like this: Cyan: 15 Magenta: 35 Yellow: 45 Black: 0

African Americans and people with darker skin tones get a slightly warmer treatment with enough cyan to keep it from going to red on press.

If I sample a mid tone area the CMYK might look like this: Cyan: 25 Magenta: 47 Yellow: 55 Black: 5

The big trick is to mix it up a bit, I don't shoot for these numbers every time, I like to ensure the scan prints as close to the original as possible after all that's what a scanner operator gets paid to do, but if I have some creative license or the photo has poor color and overexposed, I apply these guidelines. I also watch the 3 quarter tones and shadow areas very closely, making sure they don't over saturate and become dominant. The skin tones should have a consistent Hue regardless of the values from highlight to mid tone to shadow. Don't make the highlight Yellow, the mid tone Brown and the shadow Red.

Here is another link even mentioned in the same thread (http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00KCEm)


Andrew Rodney , Jul 14, 2007; 03:19 p.m.

Using an output color space (CMYK) that isn't what you're ultimately going to use to get skintone values is kind of silly. You can do this in RGB, using the working space all your images will be using. This CMYK technique is dated, really dated!

Change the CMYK profile in Photoshop's color settings, your values change. Not real useful.

Todd phillip , Jul 14, 2007; 07:36 p.m.

Thankyou all for you help...Ellis I am working in CMYK for much of the reason Anthony had stated... I was referred to using Lab to do editing and started to read a book Photoshop Lab color which maintains lab to be a powerful work space to adjust color, contrast and sharpness then convert to RGB,...second being CMYK as it has a more indepth color range....I know this is incongruous to editing in the work space your printing in but Im exploring the different methods...And Anthony that is very similar to what I have been researching...I will take a look at the threads you posted...thankyou...and thankyou Patrick & Christopher

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