Tuesday, December 23, 2014

CoffeeShop Photoshop/PSE Portrait Tutorial: Removing Color Casts from Skin (Easy) and Other Portrait Enhancements!

One of my readers left a comment on one of my tutorial post where I show two methods to "pop" fall color.  She wanted to know what she could do to remove the orange and red fall color casts from skin on her portraits.  I came across this adorable baby photo on Pixabay and I decided it would be the perfect image to use in a color-cast removing tutorial.

I have been editing for years and years (since Photoshop 2 or 2.5) and I am still learning (or relearning) new editing tricks.  There are so many ways to remove color casts in skin such as Curves, Selective Color, Color Balance, Hue/Saturation, etc.  But yesterday I stumbled on a new-to-me (or forgotten-by-me) trick just by clicking on a button I ignore in Hue/Saturation.  So I am going to share this trick with you today in case you aren't aware of it.

I am going to show you how to remove annoying color casts from skin, enhance eyes, brighten skin, define eyes, and enhance rosy cheeks - without using any actions.  ;-)

Try this method on a baby portrait with red/orange skin, it can work wonders.

Here you can see the before and my after.  I loved everything about this photo except the slight yellow-orange color cast on his little face.  I am going to show how you one way you can easily remove this using Hue/Saturation in Photoshop and PSE. And then I am going to show you a few more portrait retouching tips and tricks.

Let's go!!!

Remove Color Casts:

Photoshop Users:  Add a Hue/Saturation layer and click on the little hand swiping symbol by the Master setting (circled in the screenshot above).  I probably used this long before in the past, but I honestly don't remember.  :-)

I love this tool for removing color casts because it is so quick and easy.  I clicked on his little face by his right ear where the orange-tint was really bad, and it selected Yellows automatically.  I lowered the saturation until all yellow tint was gone from his face.  

Don't worry about the rest of the image, we will add the beautiful fall colors back in after we are finished.

I clicked on his forehead (in red above) where it looked a bit red and it automatically selected the Reds and I lowered the Saturation.  This is so easy, just click on an area that has a color cast and dial down the saturation.

PSE Users:  Your Hue/Saturation looks slightly different than Photoshop, but it is just as easy to use.  I added a Hue/Saturation layer and selected Yellows and then clicked on the little eye dropper tool underneath (circled above).  You have to select one of the color tints in order to grab the eyedropper tool, and I already could tell there was a yellow cast.

Then I clicked on his face where it looked a bit red and it selected red and I dialed down the saturation.

Photoshop/PSE Users:  Now his skin looks pretty good, but I want to add back the fall colors everywhere else but his skin.  I clicked on the layer mask (to see the red like my screenshot above, type Shift,  Alt-Option, and click on the layer mask) and filled the mask with black and and painted over his skin with a soft white brush.  I made sure to paint back his lips and cheeks with a soft black brush as I did not want to remove all of the red in them.  I didn't want to remove the red from his lips and cheeks.

Now I am pretty happy with his skin color, but I want to add a bit of smoothness/brightness to it.

Soften/Brighten Skin:  Cick to select an area of clean bright skin with your eyedropper tool and add a Color Fill layer (or add a cream/ivory as I did, f9e0c0) and fill the layer mask with black and set the opacity to 25%. Then use a soft white brush at 100% and paint over the skin and nothing else.  Keep the layer in Normal mode and adjust it to 5-30% opacity.  If you aren't happy with the skin color just click on the color and make adjustments.  You don't want to airbrush the skin with paint, just lightly soften/brighten it.

Brighten Eyes:  His eyes are a bit dark so I added a new layer on top, filled it with 50% gray, put it in Overlay mode and used a soft white brush to paint over his iris to brighten them.  Then I dialed down the opacity until they looked bright but not scary.  You can also add a levels adjustment layer in screen blending mode, fill the layer mask with black, and then paint back the eyes and adjust the opacity.

Sharpen the Image:  I wanted to sharpen the image some, so I copied the Background (Ctrl-J), desaturated it (Shift-Cont-U), and ran a Filter, High Pass set at 10.  Then I put that layer in Soft Light Blending mode. Adjust the opacity to taste.

Rosy Cheeks:  I love a baby with rosy cheeks and it is easy to add a bit of color.  I added a pink Color Fill layer on top in Normal mode and filled the layer mask with black. Then I used a soft white brush to brush on pink to his cheeks.  I pulled the opacity down to 67%.  If you aren't happy with the color just click on the Color Fill box and watch real time what his cheeks look like with other pinks/peach.  Then adjust the opacity to taste.

Here are my before and after.  It is a subtle difference but I think his skin looks so much nicer and  I love his bright eyes and rosy cheeks.

Here is a baby image where I used a similar method.  I used a few additional Photoshop tricks in this version and I will walk you through this edit next.  :-)

I hope you enjoyed reading this little tutorial and that it helps you work on your own portraits!

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  1. I love all your tutorials! Thank you for being so kind to help all of us. :)

  2. Thank You so much! This could not have come at a better time!