Fixed Skin Tone
fig 86-5. Fixed skin tone using Selective Color

Easily Match Skin Tones in Adobe Photoshop

Matching skin tones is really easy in Photoshop if you know the correct methodology. In this photo of Rayna you can see she had a bit of a farmer’s tan. No problem, most people have some farmer’s tan (I’ve got crazy ones) and you’ll also find frequently legs are different than upper body, and face even more different.

Here is a decent sized copy for you to follow along with if you’d like:

Original Photo for Skin Tone Correction
fig 86-1. Original Photo to follow along with


Step 1:

Create a mask on the area in question. Whatever tool you’d like works as I won’t be covering that in this tutorial. I used Pen Tool and then refined a little with Brush.

Mask the skin to fix
fig 86-2. Mask the skin to fix

Step 2:

Then create a Selective Color adjustment layer. It should have your mask already on it.

Step 3:

Use either the Eyedropper or Color Sampler Tool to place a point on the skin needing correction and on skin that is close to it and should be similar color. You’ll see them appear in your Info Panel.

Sample color from both skin tones.
fig 86-3. Sample the color from both skin tones.

Step 4:

In the already created Selective Color adjustment layer go to the Neutral option in the drop down. As you become more familiar with color correction and color spaces you’ll know in RGB:

  • Red and Cyan are opposed
  • Green and Magenta are opposed
  • Blue and Yellow are opposed

Now all you need to do is adjust the sliders so the bad skin tone matches the correct skin tone, in my case Point 1 should be adjusted to match Point 2. I’ll move Cyan towards Red (left), Magenta towards Green (left), and finally Yellow towards Blue (left).

Adjust the Selective Color
fig 86-4. Adjust the Selective Color until Point 1 and 2 match

Congrats!! In all seriousness there are so many tutorials out there that rely on visually checking, it makes no sense. Sample point 1, sample point 2, then don’t even look at the image. If those numbers match, it matches.  If you then want to lighten or darken it based on the shot you can use the Black Slider. I would probably stay within 3 percentage points though. Here’s the correction at this point:

Fixed Skin ToneOriginal Photo for Skin Tone Correction

This image is far from finished but I’ll cover more in a future tutorial! You now know the easiest solution for fixing skin tones.

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