Articles, Blog

Fix Skin Tones in Photoshop with One-Click! POWERFUL Photoshop Curves Adjustment Hack

September 5, 2019

Hi. Welcome back to the
I’m Jesus Ramirez. In this video, I’m going to show you how to
fix skin tones in Photoshop. We will use a powerful curves adjustment hack that will allow you to click once and fix skin tones. You will have to fine tune the adjustment,
but Photoshop will do most of the hard work. You will also learn how the eyedropper tools
work with the curves adjustment, and how you can use them to apply interesting effects
or skin tone corrections. This video has a ton of useful tips and tricks
in one freebie, so make sure that you stick around ’til the very end. Okay, let’s get
started. This is the portrait that we’re going to work
with, and as you can see, the skin tones are not looking very good, and I’m going to start
by showing you a quick tip. If you go into window, and info, and you hover
over an image, you will see the RGB values change as I hover over the pixels, and one
thing that I want you to look at and understand is how these numbers relate to skin tones,
red, green, and blue. Usually, if you want to have natural looking
skin tones, you need the red to be higher than the green, which in this case, is not,
and the green higher than the blue. Whatever the value is, they just have to be
higher, and usually, that would give you good skin tones. In this case, they are not, so
we know that we need to make an adjustment. And what I’m going to show you is a technical
with the Curves Adjustment Layer that will allow you to fix this skin tone issues with
just one click, but before we do that, we need to get ourselves organized. It’s really important to be organized when
you work in Photoshop. That way, you have a much easier time when
you’re retouching and working with multiple layers. So the first thing that I’ll do is
create a group by clicking on the new group icon, and I’ll just call it retouch. Then, I’m going to click on the portrait layer
and go into the quick selection tool, and I’ll just make a selection around the areas
that I want my Curves Adjustment Layer to effect, basically, his skin tones, and I’ll
include his hair. So I’m going to click and drag, and make a
selection around his face, ears, neck, anything that I want that adjustment layer to effect. If you make a mistake, like I did here, and
didn’t select that part of the head, just keep clicking and dragging. If you selected
an area that you didn’t intend to select, hold alt on windows option on the Mac, and
click and drag to deselect. You don’t need to worry about all the fine
details with the selection at this moment. Just make sure that you have a good enough
selection, and you can always come back and make your refinements at the end. That’s the way I recommend working. Then, with the selection active, click on
the group, and then click on the new layer mask icon to create a mask based on the selection. So, now, if we create a Curves Adjustment
Layer while we have the group selected, it will appear inside of the group, and any adjustments I make
to that adjustment layer will only affect the contents of that mask, and the reason that we applied the mask to
the group, and not the layer mask, is so that we can have multiple adjustment layers controlled
by the same mask. I’m going to delete this hue and saturation
adjustment layer, because we don’t need it, and we’re just going to work with the Curves
Adjustment Layer, and to not confuse you, I’m going to delete
the layer mask by right-clicking and selecting
delete layer mask. So we’re just going to work with this Curves
Adjustment Layer. I’m going to hover in between the panels, and I’m going to drag down so
that we can see the entire panel. And we’re going to talk about
the eyedropper tools. I’m going to explain what they do, so that
you better understand the process that we’re going to use to make that skin adjustment. Let’s start at the top with the black point
eyedropper. When you select that eyedropper, you can click on any area of the image,
and that will become black. For example, if I click on this part of his
hair, notice how that becomes black, and it makes the rest of the image darker, of course. That’s setting the darkest point of the image.
Basically, I’m telling Photoshop that this area that I clicked on will be the darkest
point of the image, so anything darker than that will be black. And we have the opposite of that. We have
the white point with this eyedropper here. So, if I select the white point eyedropper,
and click on an area, like maybe his skin here, that’ll become the brightest point of
the image, and I can continue clicking on different areas to see how it changes the
image. So if I click on the highlight, the highlight
now is the brightest point of the image, and you get the result that you see there. Then, we have the gray point eyedropper, which
allows you to neutralize an image by clicking on something that should be a neutral gray. Notice that when I click on here, Photoshop
will try to neutralize the grays, which changes the color of the skin tones. So that is just a basic explanation about
what these tools do, and what we’re going to do is, we’re going to use these tools to
apply custom colors. I’m going to click on the reset button to
reset the Curves Adjustment Layer. Then, I’m going to double click on the black
point eyedropper, and that brings up the color picker, and if I select a dark red and press
OK, Photoshop will ask me if that’s going to become the new default color. I’m going
to say no. I just want to use it once, and I’ll click
on that same spot of his hair that I did earlier, and that dark red will become the darkest
color of the image. I’ll now double click on the white point eyedropper, and I’ll select a light green, press OK, and tell Photoshop that
I do not want to make these my default colors, and I’ll click on the highlights. Now, the brightest points are light green, and something very important to note in the
Curves Adjustment Layer is that I’ve changed the black point and white point of all the
RGB channels represented by red, green, and blue lines that you see there. I can control them individually by going into
each individual channel, but I’m in the RGB composite, so I can see them all. The point is, is that I can use a gray point
eyedropper, and now I neutralize the image, and obviously, the colors change, but something
very, very important to note is that the black and white points did not change, just the mid tones to try to neutralize that
image. So if I double click on the gray point eyedropper,
you can see that we’re trying to neutralize it to a 50% gray, obviously, but I can change that to a different color,
we’ll try this magenta color, press OK, and if I click here, notice how, now, it tries
to neutralize the image with that color. So that’s the principles that we’re going
to use to fix the color tones of the portrait just with the one click. So what I’m going to do is reset the Curves
Adjustment Layer, and all that we need to do is tell Photoshop what color the skin tones
should be, and to do so, you can simply double click
on the gray point eyedropper, and select the skin tone. If you don’t have a skin tone handy, do not
worry. I created a CC library, a Creative Cloud library,
that has all these different skin tones that you can use. I’m going to place a link down below in the
description where you can actually download these onto your Creative Cloud account, and
this is what the page looks like. These are the skin tones that I saved, and
if you’re logged into your Creative Cloud account, you will see a save button here. When you click on it, they will be added to
your Creative Cloud account, and you can use them in Photoshop. If you don’t have Photoshop CC, then don’t
worry about it. Simply take a screenshot, import it into Photoshop,
and use the eyedropper tool to select the skin tone that you want to use. Once you have them in your Creative Cloud
library, this is what they will look like, and all you need to do is simply click on
any one of these skin tones. For example, I’ll click on this one, skin
tone number five once, and it applies it to my foreground color. If I were to double click on it, it will bring
up the color picker, and I don’t want to to that. I don’t want to change it, so there it is. And what I’m going to do now is, on the Curves
Adjustment Layer, make sure that the focus, the white outline, is on the curves, not on
the layer mask. I don’t have a layer mask, but if I did, the
focus may be in the layer mask. So you have to make sure that these white
outlines are around the curves thumbnail. Then, go back into the properties panel for
the Curves Adjustment Layer, and double-click on the gray point eyedropper, and select that skin tone foreground color,
and press OK. Of course, we do not want to make it default,
and in the options bar, you want to make sure that you have sample size set to something
bigger than point sample. I have it set to 11 by 11 average, and that
will work for me. This simply means that, when you click on
a pixel, you won’t actually sample the pixel that you clicked on. You will, instead, sample a square that’s
11 pixels by 11 pixels, and you will get an average of those colors. And what we’re going to do now is simply click
on a skin tone, and see what happens, and there you go. With one click, we changed the skin. If you’re unhappy with your results, you can
click on another area. I’ll stick with this, obviously. This is not 100% perfect. We do want to make
some adjustments. First of all, I don’t want this skin tone
color to effect his eyes. I’ll enable a layer mask, select the brush tool, make sure that
black is my foreground color, and paint with black over his eyes. Remember that you can use the left and right
bracket keys on the keyboard to reduce or increase the size of the brush as you paint. To be frank with you, I do want a little bit
of that effect that the Curves Adjustment Layer is applying, so that I can remove just
a bit of that color cast. So I’ll bring back the effect at 50%, and
let me show you a cool trick with the fade command. I’ll start by making my brush a little bit
larger by tapping on the right bracket key on the keyboard, set my foreground color to white to reveal,
and I’m going to paint over to reveal the effect once again. And the reason that I did that was so that
I can go into the edit menu, and under fade brush tool, I can fade that effect, and the fade command allows me to reduce the
opacity of the last thing that I did, in this case, was to paint with white over his eyes, so now I can control how intense I want that
adjustment to be. In this case, I’ll set the opacity to 50%, and press OK. And what I’m going to do now is, with the
Curves Adjustment Layer, I can do several things. For example, I can reduce the opacity, so
I can bring the opacity down to 0, and increase it accordingly until I get the skin tones
that I like. Also, I would like to point out one other
thing. I’m going to increase the opacity to 100%, go back into my library’s panel, and
I’m going to select one of these skin tones, and I’ll select the darkest one so you can
see something. I want to select this skin tone number 10. I’m going to go back into the properties panel,
click on the Curves Adjustment Layer, make sure that the focus, the white outline,
is on the curves thumbnail, and double click on the gray point, and select
that new darker skin tone. I’m going to press OK, and I’m going to press no. I don’t want these to be my default colors,
and I’m going to click on the skin tone once again. And look at the difference. He’s not
any darker. No matter where I click, he doesn’t get any
darker. If you remember, that’s because the gray point
does not change the black or white point. We’re only changing the mid tones, so just
because we select a darker skin tone, doesn’t mean that we’re going to make the image darker
or brighter. So keep that in mind. In a lot of cases, using a darker skin tone
works better, because it reduces the saturation, so we don’t have to worry about the saturation
too much. So we can, of course, still reduce the opacity,
but in this case, I don’t think it’s necessary, and actually, in this case, I think that, if we use something
like color for a blending mode, it might be a good thing. So that’s color, and that’s
normal, and the difference is that, with color, we’re not using the luminosity that we created.
We’re only using the luminosity of the background. So we’re using the original luminous values,
and we’re letting the Curves Adjustment Layer only take care of the color, which means that it’s taking care of the hue
and saturation of the skin tones. And we can then create a second adjustment
layer. For example, we can create a levels adjustment
layer, set the blending mode to luminosity, so that we only effect the luminous values,
and we can use this layer to control the brightness of the skin tone. So that’s one of the reasons why I created
a group with one layer mask, so that this layer mask can control anything
that we throw in there, and in this case, I don’t necessarily want that strong effect. If anything, I may want to brighten the skin
just a little bit, and maybe not be so bright in some of the highlights. Obviously, this is all subjective, whatever
you prefer, whatever looks good to your eye, and to the story that you’re trying to tell
with your image. One other thing that you can do is maybe create
a Vibrance adjustment layer, and you can control the saturation of the image. Vibrance is a smart way of saturating images. It protects already saturated pixels and skin
tones, so it’s great to use in portraits. If you want to learn more about the difference
between Vibrance and saturation, then check out this video. It’s a video where I discuss them both and
their differences. I’ll place a link right below in the description. But, anyway, you can see that, just with this
group, I can control the entire adjustment. So that’s before, and that’s after, and you
can do all of this just basically with one click. Once you set the color on the gray point eyedropper,
just click on the skin tone, and you can select your skin tone from any other photo, any color
that you want, or you can have access to these skin tones
that I saved for you in a Creative Cloud library. Again, the link is right below in the description. Also, I wanted to take a few moments to show
you how to add a new color swatch to the skin tone’s CC library. All you need to do is select the foreground
color that you want to add to your library, and simply click on this plus icon, the add
content icon, and select foreground color. When you do that, the new foreground color
will appear, and you can double click on the name to rename it. I don’t really want it in my group, so I’m
just going to delete it. I’m going to click and drag it into the trash icon, and that
goes away. So you can keep adding as many colors as you want to your CC library. And you’re probably curious about the first
thing that I talked about, which is the RBG values. So I’m going to go back into the info panel, and watch what happens when
I hover over to a similar area. The info panel will display
two sets of values. On the left, the original values, and on the
right, the values that are created with the adjustment layers that we applied in the group. Notice that, now, the red is higher than the
green, 134 over 106, and the green is higher than the blue, 106 over 72. So again, skin tones will always look better
if the red is higher than the green, and the green is higher than the blue. And by the way, let me know in the comments
below what you think about these techniques. If you like them, then click on that like
button now. Also, if you’re brand new to the Photoshop
Training Channel, then don’t forget to click on that subscribe and notification buttons. That way, you’re notified whenever I post
a new tutorial, and you don’t miss any new Photoshop tips and tricks. Also, if you enjoyed this video, then don’t
forget to check out my tutorial on creating skin texture from scratch. It’s one of my 90 second Photoshop tips. I’ll place a link to that video right below
in the description. Thank you so much for watching, and I will
talk to you again in the next Photoshop tutorial.


  • Reply Photoshop Training Channel July 2, 2019 at 12:50 am

    Follow Me on Instagram! ►
    Vibrance V. Saturation ►
    Smooth Skin in Photoshop ►
    Create Skin Texture From Scratch ►
    Free Skin Color CC Library ►

  • Reply Snow Wold July 2, 2019 at 12:57 am


  • Reply Valdair Leonardo Sgarbossa July 2, 2019 at 1:03 am

    Perfect tutorial as always! Thank you so much Jesús!

  • Reply Houda Douda July 2, 2019 at 1:18 am

    You're great! I LOVE your videos. They are soo helpful thank you! Continue with the great work! ❤️❤️

  • Reply rexdomz July 2, 2019 at 1:19 am

    Nice video and tutorial. I have also made few photoshop design tuts for Filipinos. Thanks, great tips.

  • Reply Eray Ant July 2, 2019 at 1:25 am

    Thanks again for that hi quality tutorial. Can You make how to make foggy light look tutorial? Like this: I hope you will i try to find but examples was so bad. I know i am only man for asking that but ı know many people will like it if you can do. Anyway do or not i like your tutorials. Thank you again.

  • Reply Zazai July 2, 2019 at 1:40 am

    Good job! Super informative

  • Reply Bhapilife July 2, 2019 at 1:58 am

    That's so awesome brother, good done !!!

  • Reply Ian C July 2, 2019 at 2:45 am

    Just awesome tutorial thank you!

  • Reply babe honnie July 2, 2019 at 3:47 am

    Too much Quality.

  • Reply Tom Owen July 2, 2019 at 3:57 am

    Your timing is perfect! I was trying to find a way to do what you taught in this video. Thank you!

  • Reply Aniket Ajgalle July 2, 2019 at 4:24 am

    Nice Nice 😘

  • Reply Syed Imtiyas July 2, 2019 at 4:36 am

    Photo look

  • Reply Amit Pandya July 2, 2019 at 4:36 am

    Too long video for explain 👎

  • Reply Frank Hernandez July 2, 2019 at 5:03 am

    Brilliant technique! Thank you.

  • Reply RS July 2, 2019 at 5:29 am

    Good video.
    This is also handy to make your own LUTs instead of buying them 😉 .
    Set your black, set your white (to different colors) and work with Opacity and Fill, Vibrance and Saturation, and Layer styles to get the desired effect.

  • Reply blue elegy July 2, 2019 at 6:16 am

    Great video. How do I apply the same settings to a different image?

  • Reply Tak Makliaveli July 2, 2019 at 7:59 am


  • Reply Martin Tolley July 2, 2019 at 8:22 am

    More wonderful stuff. Thank's so much for these. Now I understand. Now I can do.

  • Reply Frederic Soumier July 2, 2019 at 8:38 am

    As always, great job.

  • Reply Pauline Merlin July 2, 2019 at 9:03 am

    Excellent, thanks

  • Reply nr.achri July 2, 2019 at 9:31 am


  • Reply azcary andino July 2, 2019 at 10:51 am


  • Reply sachin Rokhade July 2, 2019 at 11:36 am

    hey sirji please if u can make video of removing men beard in photoshop …………………….. if u can thank u

  • Reply Fernando Vázquez Dj Manitas July 2, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Great Tutorial friend Jesus, thanks a lot!!!

  • Reply Jesse Pinkman July 2, 2019 at 1:00 pm

    This is really great, Jesus! Thankyou for making Ps tutorials. 😊
    You dont fail to teach us new things in each videos
    And the best thing in here is its Free! We're learning tons of PS tips and tricks for free.
    You're a great teacher!

  • Reply Kriative Kip July 2, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Amazing. Also, would request you also consider African/Black models when sharing your skin related tutorials. Watching from Kenya here.

  • Reply Sunil Poreyana July 2, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    Thanks for the very informative video… however in the process of changing the skin tone even the hair has gone brown. That could have been corrected using the blendif option by making visible the darker colours of the underlying layer.

  • Reply R Garlin July 2, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Thanks JR, great explanations, and thanks for the Library pack too, very kind of you!🙏
    Also, I may be wrong, but I think… I may've clicked more than once to get everything working 🤣

  • Reply kabanowster July 2, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Man you're golden. This is the best of your tuts. Big thumbs up and very much thank you. Learned alot.

  • Reply kapture benoit July 2, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    This tutorial I put it in your top ten video… What a great ''Curves'' tips. As a fan of curves I just like it when you show new ways of using it.. Thanks a lot..

  • Reply Tyran Vz July 2, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    That fade adjustment at 9:52 is really useful

  • Reply kalaitzakis giannis July 2, 2019 at 2:44 pm

    very interesting tutorial.. congratulations…

  • Reply Gary Jean July 2, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    Jesus is the best.

  • Reply Vella durai.S July 2, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    another great tut….thank you dude!!!!

  • Reply Ueli Mueller July 2, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    Very useful as always. Five Stars!

  • Reply Frank DeBonis July 2, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    Jesus, you never cease to amaze me. Well done.

  • Reply Undef July 2, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    The best ps skills ever. Can you make a tutorial how to match a perspective of objects. For instance i would like to create a realistic composite where girl holds umbrella. And how to replace the umbrella with different object Thanks!

  • Reply Tore Aasland July 2, 2019 at 6:53 pm

    This was an amazing tutorial. thank you!

  • Reply Dax Castro July 2, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    FADE EFFECT TOOL!?!?!?!?!? Mind blown!!! Thanks you Jesus! I mean Thank you Jesús…Well really.. Thank you both!

  • Reply Jaime E. Campuzano T. July 2, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    Muchas gracias Jesús, eres excelente!!!

  • Reply Sebastían Alexander July 2, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    Youre awesome! Thank you!

  • Reply Kalai Kennedy-Lynam July 3, 2019 at 12:28 am

    My head hurts. This was so difficult to follow and get that aha moment. 😕

  • Reply Sammi Liu July 3, 2019 at 12:57 am

    Thanks for the videos~ But how can I access the photos used in the videos? I want to practice.

  • Reply John Berthoty July 3, 2019 at 12:59 am

    Jesus, your videos are always a cut above. This one is no exception. Really, really valuable!

  • Reply Hector Jacobo Bendahan July 3, 2019 at 1:27 am

    this is an excellent tutorial, but definitely no one click and not for beginners. thank you.

  • Reply Manny D July 3, 2019 at 2:06 am

    Loving this powerful technique to fix skin tones. Thanks👍🏼

  • Reply Daniel Hoover July 3, 2019 at 3:23 am

    More like fix skin tones with 100 clicks.

  • Reply john lajoie July 3, 2019 at 5:02 am


  • Reply Hemant Bhatt July 3, 2019 at 6:12 am

    nice video wonderful technique…. 🙂

  • Reply Seyed Ali Hoseinyfar July 3, 2019 at 7:24 am

    Thank You very much

  • Reply Me Zax July 3, 2019 at 8:50 am

    Channel recommended to me as am deaf and txt is transcribed and subtitles – how do I get the image that's been worked on into my PS please????

  • Reply Roger McNair July 3, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    Thank you, Jesus. Your work is always excellent. However, it is like trying to drink from a fire hose — too much, too fast.. And the title for this video is definitely misleading.

  • Reply PD July 3, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Very helpful in outdoor portraits or environmental coulld fix the reflected light on skin without affecting the surrounds.

  • Reply 889media July 3, 2019 at 10:22 pm

    click here then click over here then click click click like this! Then click some more over there. A few minutes later: Congrats; you just adjusted the skin tones with one simple click 😉

  • Reply Joanie Thatcher July 4, 2019 at 9:08 am

    Jesús, as always – a wonderful tutorial. My collection of your instructions keeps getting larger and larger. The designers I work with love the crunchy blue look, which makes the faces look like the living dead. I’m using this technique today!!

  • Reply Darcy Brown July 4, 2019 at 10:20 am

    excellent tutorial Jesús

  • Reply Johnnie Medina July 4, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    HOLY SMOKES!!!! That was amazing, Jesus! It's just what I needed. Thank you!

  • Reply WTF BBQ July 5, 2019 at 5:42 am

    Once you did all those a hundred clicks prior, all you need to do is that last "One click" to fix your skin tone… That's it, just one click.

  • Reply Mark * July 5, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    Another terrific video, Jesus! However, the skin tones in the CC library are specified as RGB (or HSB or HEX) values but the color space is not specified, and differ depending on the working color space. Can you please give us the Lab values for each, so we can accurately use them in Photoshop, regardless of color space (sRGB, ProPhoto RGB, etc.) Thank you!

  • Reply Luciano July 5, 2019 at 8:29 pm

    Very helpful video. Thank you Jesus.

  • Reply F ab July 6, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    This is pretty cool; I use a purely quantitative approach on curves to correct skin tones and make them reflect the real skin tone as much as possible, but this gives the advantage of letting you audition a bunch of skin tones and seeing if you like one more than another.

  • Reply Tubeless TUBE July 7, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Obviously u r GENIUS sir

  • Reply diannescamera July 7, 2019 at 8:43 pm

    Pretty sure that tip is worth a lot of money in the photoshop classes out there…thank you so much! This solves a lot of problems and thanks for the skin palette as well!

  • Reply Allan Watson July 8, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Sorry, I agree with the comments below. Far too complicated and not one click. It would be great if you could produce a video which does what you claim. Photoshop Elements has adjust skin tone sliders – is there nothing similar in Photoshop?

  • Reply Reza Beheshtipour July 9, 2019 at 5:49 am

    Great. but what about the Red tint of the hair and beard after changing the skin tone?

  • Reply Asgaraly Louloua July 9, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    too much long, and too much bla-bla before explaining immediately abt the picture, really sometimes fed up

  • Reply Tamba K Finoh July 10, 2019 at 12:34 am

    Awesome, but can I get the e-mail address of this site please?

  • Reply Cornelia Denk July 10, 2019 at 10:37 am

    Thanks, again a Great and helpful Tutorial. You do really great Job 👍😀😀

  • Reply Andy Fisher July 10, 2019 at 10:23 pm

    Great stuff – subbed and grateful 🙏

  • Reply Jorge Reynal July 11, 2019 at 1:49 am

    Maestro, genio, titan!!!

  • Reply minnie saab July 11, 2019 at 6:15 pm


  • Reply Mark * July 11, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    Thanks again, Jesus. I have used many skin tone techniques over the years. This is the easiest technique with realistic results I have found. By the way, if anyone wants to use the Lab values to create the skin sample colors in any color space: for the ten samples the Lab values I get are: (83, 4, 18), (89, 8, 10), (81, 14, 19), (78, 14, 30), (65, 25, 28), (53, 24, 27), (37, 28, 25), (28, 12, 16), (13, 20, 15), (6, 14, 8).

  • Reply Ed Vitug July 28, 2019 at 12:30 am


  • Reply N'DEPO Eric July 28, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    What about black skin ?

  • Reply rpurdum July 28, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    Excellent tutorial! Thanks for improving my portraits with this technique!

  • Reply Abid's July 31, 2019 at 6:10 pm

    i dont like the way he is looking :/

  • Reply Grob Over August 2, 2019 at 10:50 am

    you didn't fix skin tones you just changed skin color

  • Reply Heidi Noy August 3, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    Great, marked and saved for later 👍🏻👍🏻😎

  • Reply Magnus Magnusson August 30, 2019 at 12:49 am

    By far the best channel, if you want to learn Photoshop. Great tutorials. Thank you Mr Ramirez.

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