How to Take Out the Red Skin Tone in Photoshop

Written by elizabeth mott
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How to Take Out the Red Skin Tone in Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop CS5 makes skin-tone colour correction simple. (Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

You want the portraits you retouch in Adobe Photoshop CS5 to look their best, whether they're family pictures or snapshots of friends. Lighting, camera performance and aggressive colour adjustments can make your subjects' skin tones look too red. Sometimes the problem lies in the image itself, if the subject's skin is flushed from heat exposure or illness. You don't need elaborate retouching procedures to correct these situations and return red faces to normal colouring.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Portrait with overly red skin tones

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Choose "Open" from the "File" menu or press "Control + O" (Windows) or "Command + O" (Mac), then navigate to the location of your image file. Double-click on the file name to open it or click once on the name to select it and click on the "Open" button.

  2. 2

    Zoom in on the face you want to correct by holding down the "Control" (Windows) or "Command" key (Mac), pressing and holding the spacebar, and clicking on the file window until you can see the relevant image area clearly.

  3. 3

    Press "F7" or choose "Layers" from the "Window" menu to bring the "Layers" panel up on your screen if it is not visible. Click on the "Create new fill or adjustment layer" button at the bottom of the panel and choose "Hue/Saturation" from the list of layer types.

  4. 4

    Click on the second pop-up menu from the top of the "Hue/Saturation" adjustment layer when it opens on your screen and select "Reds." Click once on the leftmost eyedropper from the set of three located to the left of the "Colorize" checkbox, then click once on the reddened area of the face you want to correct.

  5. 5

    Set the "Hue" value to 2. Observe the results in your image. If the correction leaves parts of the face at a normal colour and others still red or blotchy, click on the eyedropper button with the plus sign and click on the area that remains uncorrected to add it to the range of colours you're adjusting. If the correction applies uniformly but the face remains too red, raise the "Hue" value slowly until you reach a number at which the skin tones appear normal.

Tips and warnings

  • To add red to a face that appears too yellow, follow the same procedure but lower the "Hue" value to a small negative number.
  • You can raise or lower numeric values in Photoshop dialogue boxes by pressing the up and down arrow keys on your computer keyboard after you insert your cursor in the data entry field.
  • Small adjustments to the "Hue" value can have big results. Apply these changes with a light touch to avoid overcorrected flesh tones that leave your subject looking yellow and jaundiced.
  • Make sure you can trust what you see on your monitor to show you accurate results. Profile and calibrate your monitor so it displays reliable colour. If you don't have a hardware calibrator, you can use the "Adobe Gamma" utility included with Adobe Photoshop to adjust your display.

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