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Adjusting RGB Flesh Tones

So what do you do if you’ve used Curves to properly set the highlights, midtones, and shadows, but the flesh tones in your photo still look too red? You can’t use the “getting-proper-flesh-tones-for-a-printing-press” trick, because that’s only for CMYK images going to press. Instead, try this quick trick for getting your flesh tones in line by removing the excess red.

Step One.
Open a photo that you’ve corrected using the Curves technique shown earlier. If the whole image appears too red, skip this step and go on to Step Three. However, if it’s just the flesh-tone areas that appear too red, get the Lasso tool and make a selection around all the flesh- tone areas in your photo. (Hold the Shift key to add other flesh-tone areas to the selection, such as arms, hands, legs, etc.)


Step Two.
Go under the Select menu and choose Feather. Enter a Feather Radius of 3 pixels, and then click OK. By adding this feather, you soften the edges of your selection; this keeps you from having a hard visible edge show up where you made your adjustment.


Once you make a selection of the flesh- tone areas, you might find it easier if you hide the selection border from view (that makes it easier to see what you’re correcting) by pressing Command-H (PC: Control-H).

Step Three.
Go under the Image menu, under Adjustments, and choose Hue/Saturation. When the dialog appears, click and hold on the Edit pop-up menu and choose Reds (as shown here) so you’re just adjusting the reds in your photo (or in your selected areas if you put a selection around just the flesh tones).

Step Four.
The rest is easy—you’re simply going to reduce the amount of saturation so the flesh tones appear more natural. Drag the Saturation slider to the left (as shown) to reduce the amount of red. You’ll be able to see the effect of removing the red as you lower the Saturation slider.

Before adjusting the RGB flesh tones.

After reducing the red in flesh tones.



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