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Adobe Photoshop CC - Advanced Training

How to change the color of skin in Photoshop - Color Range

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, this video is all about using Color Range to select skin. We're going to make cool little masks like this. So we can isolate the skin and do things like this ready. Just give a bit more fullness to the skin. And if you ask me, do I use this technique to give myself a tan in my profile social media photos, I'll deny it. So as long as you promise not to go out and check my social media photos, I will show you how to use Color Range to select skin. 

In your 'Exercise Files', open up 'Color Range 04' and '5'. These images are from Unsplash, and this one's from Scott Walters, and the next one we'll do is from Dan 7kidz; thank you, guys. So in 'Color Range 04', let's go to 'Select', let's go to 'Color Range'. And what we're going to use is the option here that says Skin Tones. So we're probably defaulting to Sample Colors, let's go to 'Skin Tones'. If yours is not by default, switch it to 'Grayscale'. Turn 'on' Detect Faces, it looks for kind of-- basically looks for two eyes and then kind of adjusts a little bit. I find, sometimes works really good, sometimes it's not. Just turn it on and off and see if your selection gets better or worse. 

Then it's playing around with the fuzziness. Obviously too high, it's going to have too much the background selected. So I want it to be reasonably high, and it's working okay. There's lots of similar colors in here, so my guess is, about 30 to 40 percent of images, at least the picture that I've got, this technique will work as good as we're doing here. The rest of the time there's just too much color in the image, that's very similar to skin, and this technique doesn't work. I want to give you honest examples, I guess. This one here is pretty good because there's a nice clear definition, between here in the background on most parts. 

Same with the shirt, there's a good enough differentiation. It's not perfect, by no means, but there's still a little bit of work to do. So let's click 'OK', so we've got a selection. What I want to do is-- adjusting skin, it really depends on what you need to do. She has a particularly fine skin tone, they're not blown out. There's no color cast so what I would tend to do is, with this selection, let's go to 'Vibrance'. I just want to like lift it up a little bit. So 'Adjustments', and we use this one here called Vibrance; I love vibrance. I think I'll go right up to show you what it does. Can you see it added like-- I've gone too far, but it's added kind of a lot of fullness to here. So I wouldn't generally have it that high, I'm just doing kind of slight adjustments. So on, off, a little hard to see. How far is too far? That's fine.

The problem is it's affecting a lot of the rest of the image. You might decide, actually that's fine, nobody's going to notice, but let's say you do want to isolate it just for the face. Now what we can do is use our Brush Tool to paint it out, and I'm going to show you a nice little extra trick. If you're on a Mac, look down your keyboard and hold down the 'Option' key. If you're on a PC hold down the 'Alt' key. And what you need to do is click your mask here. The cool thing about that is, you haven't wrecked anything, or changed anything, or made it black and white. It's just showing you a big version of your mask, which makes it easy to paint. 

So I got my Brush Tool selected, I'm going to pick an appropriate Brush size. And Hardness, I get mine up to about 87. Make sure it blacks my fill ground color, and just kind of paint out-- I'm just showing you a lot bigger. And just paint out the bits I don't want included. So use Color Range to kind of get started and get a lot of the hard work done but, like so many things in Photoshop they're just so many like other, annoying things that ruin your perfect example. So in this case I'm just going around, there's a nice little black bleed around the edges of them. You might not get this lucky, but like I said it works for enough of the things, that I work on to give it a go, because it doesn't take very long, right? I've been teaching you how to do it, and we've only been at this a couple of minutes. 

Brush size down. Weird straw thing. I think we're close enough to this being okay. The Hue here is probably the worst part, because it's such a close color to the skin, but now we've just got the skin selected. So we use Color Range in skin tones to get it kind of started, and then we paint out the rest. There's a lot of this in Photoshop, where you get a selection that's pretty close, and then you tidy it up with the Brush Tool. 
To get it back to how it was before, the same key, so hold down 'Option' on a Mac, 'Alt' on a P, and just click on the 'Mask' again. Now that Vibrance layer is only adjusting the skin. You'll see up here, it's disappeared, so I can click on the word 'Vibrance', and its back again. Ain't got the saturation to give her an ugly sun tan. So I use vibrance just to enhance the colors. If you're finding you've got-- you might use the same selection on say, levels or curves, depending on what you want to do to the skin. 

I want to show you one last little trick, A, to show you some extra shortcuts, but B, how I give somebody that-- this woman here, this girl here has a fine skin pallor. Let's say though that it's your profile photo, and you're looking pretty washed out, or don't have a tan. Let's say tan, so what we want, some richness in the skin. This is my trick for tans. So what I want to do is, I want to-- first is the shortcut. I want that selection back, that we did with, 'Select', 'Color Range', and then blacking out the background. So I don't have to do all that again. 

What I can do to get the selection is just hold down the 'Command' key on a Mac, or the 'Ctrl' key on a PC, and just click on the mask, and it loads it as a selection. Super handy little trick. And what I'm going to do, I'm going to go to 'Adjustments', 'Hue & Saturation', I'm going to go to 'Colorize', yank up the Saturation, and I'm going to find a color that I want this person to be. We're going to be in the-- we don't want it to be red, we want it to be kind of like orangey yellow. 

I have the Saturation up high just so I can get my Hue right, because we don't want them that color. What I also want to do is play around with my Blending Modes or my Layer Modes. So with 'Hue & Saturation 01', go to 'Normal'. I find this always works with Soft Light. So it's still too high, but you can see it's blending in a lot more. I'm just going to lower the saturation until there's something-- like she had a fine old color already, so I'm not going to have to do much. So what I might do is-- I wanted to show you here-- I'm going to go quite low because she didn't really need any of this extra color. Zoom in, see how orange I've made her. You got to decide how kind of rich you think they need to be. 

With this layer selected as well, I'm probably going to lower the opacity a little bit. It's all about subtle adjustments, you can see that on. I'm going to turn both of these on, both of them off. So I haven't made much adjustment because the photographer, Scot Walters here had a pretty nice original image. If you're working on your own work or your own profile photo, you might find that you need to have some of these settings a little bit higher, like Vibrance and Saturation, just to give yourself a bit of a tan, or a bit of healthiness, or color. Regardless of how you think my tan on this girl is, you might think I've ruined it. What's important is the technique, so we started with 'Select', 'Color Range', and we use 'Skin Tones'. And like I said, it kind of works really good on about 30-40% of images. 

As long as there's a clear contrast with the background. Then you have to blot out the background with a big paint brush. We learned the cool shortcut, by holding down the 'Alt' key on a PC, and 'Option' key on a Mac. Just to get that one little layer selected. Makes it so much easier for tidying up masks. Same key down to click it again, to turn it off. The other really important shortcut was 'Command' key on a Mac, 'Ctrl' key on a PC. Just clicking the Mask, and you get that loaded as a selection. I'm going to use that a few times throughout this course. I'm going to 'Deselect'. 

The reason I got you to open up Color Range 5 is that there's going to be lots of examples that just don't work, and this is going to be one of them. So let me show you why. Let's zoom in a little bit, 'Select', 'Color Range'. We're going to pick 'Skin Tones'. 'Detect Faces'. You can see the big problem here. Here is a very similar skin tone to her skin. And all the stuff in the background, that's all very similar. So I can play around with this for as long as I like, but really it's not going to give me a great example. We're going to get into something called a Channel Mask later on, which will do better for this, but I wanted to show you some kind of realistic examples wherein it doesn't work. I love Color Range, when it works. That is it for Skin Tones and Color Range. Let's get into the next example.