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Adjusting skin tones in Lightroom

Michael Ziegler , Dec 26, 2007; 02:45 p.m.

Is there a good technique to adjust for proper skin tones just using Lightroom?


Diane Madura , Dec 26, 2007; 03:22 p.m.

Hi, Michael. In the following book, the author gives an idea of what the CMY values should be for skin of different races. I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for. Here's a link to the book.


Ronald Moravec , Dec 26, 2007; 05:15 p.m.

Use a grey board and all the other values will fall along with it.

If you are doing wedding work, shoot a JPEG with flash and you will have a sample to work from. Two side by side images can be opened at one time to make comparisons easier. Match the one good known JPEG and the other while both are open.

Joe Williams , Dec 26, 2007; 08:38 p.m.

The book Diane recommends, Lee Varis' SKIN, has been very helpful to me. I've absorbed only a fraction of its content, but I've seen great improvement in my retouching ability. That said, what I know of the skin tone techniques won't apply within Lightroom, since the book is Photoshop-centric, though I think there's something to learn from Varis' recommendations, regardless. Ronald's approach will yield true color, but that may not be the desired outcome. For example, as Varis points out, there are various cultural sensitivities that one should consider.

The simple answer for me is getting a good white balance, warming or cooling to taste, then adjusting the HSL sliders until I like what I see, skin color-wise. Simple enough, perhaps, but not a much of a recipe, since I approach it more or less ad hoc.

I have a lot to learn, so I'll be interested to see what more sophisticated Lightroom users have to say.

Bill Fouche , Dec 26, 2007; 09:10 p.m.

If you are a Canon user, you may find that Canon's included DPP (digital photo professional) software does a better job than Lightroom (or ACR) with skintones.

Andrew Rodney , Dec 28, 2007; 10:40 a.m.

The CMYK number game, especially in light of how Lightroom operates is a waste of time. CMYK is an output color space, based on a specific mix of inks and paper on usually a press.

You don't need to worry about ratio's of skin (which I'll add vary a LOT) using some odd output color space, you can do this in RGB once you have a few representative images that contain good skin.

But the numbers? How about just LOOKING at the skin (which varies a lot) on a calibrated display? In LR, the HLS controls are great at working on skin or other selective work, use the Direct Select Tool to mouse over the area and affect Hue, luminance or saturation (or all three). Very powerful. Then if you get the skin as you like and want to work with numbers (in LR it's RGB using percentages), fine.

Brad - , Dec 28, 2007; 12:08 p.m.

... use the Direct Select Tool...

Not sure what that is in LR, but I use the Target Adjustment Tool (TAT) and my mouse's scrollwheel in HSL mode. You need to click on the icon in the HSL panel first, select either Hue, Saturation, or Luminance, place the cursor over an area to adjust, and then scroll the wheel while looking at the results. Works really slick. TAT/Scroll also works in Curves...

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