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They're too red!

Updated: 04/05/2013

Some fair-skinned Caucasians are dismayed to learn that digital cameras with on-camera flash make their faces go nuclear.

It's the second-leading cause of returned prints.

There's a relatively quick way to save your victims from looking like Chernobyl survivors. It works beautifully for rashes and blemishes too:

Red skin

Here's how to do it:

faces too red
  1. In Photoshop, make sure the Layers Palette is open (Window > Layers). Then click on the adjustment layers icon (red arrow, below right) and select Hue/Saturation.
  2. The Hue/Saturation dialog box will appear. In the upper left it has a pull-down menu that defaults to Master. Choose Reds:

    Skin with red blotches
  3. Now hover over your image and click on the reddest skin that you want to correct.
  4. Look for the eyedropper on the Hue/Saturation dialog, below. Click it.
  5. Now find a good-looking patch of skin, hopefully one that doesn't need adjustment. Click it.
  6. Now slide the Hue slider all the way to the left. The reddest patches of skin will turn cyan (example image, below).
  7. Now slide the right gray-triangle slider in the Hue/Saturation dialog (red arrow, below) to the left to limit the areas being corrected to just the spots that are too red.
  8. Finally, slide the Hue slider back to zero and beyond far enough so that the skin tones become natural. We find that somewhere in the range of +4 to +20 usually works well. You can hover your cursor over areas of skin to read the color values from the Info palette. Our pleasing skin tone section will tell you what values to look for.
Red skin blotches tutorial

Red skin blotch tutorial

Tip: Some photos look even better if you do this again, but choose yellows.

This wonderful trick is courtesy of Lee Varis, who wrote the book Skin. He has a free online tutorial of this technique.