Education
How to Edit Skin Tone in Capture One
by Chris Daniels

Thanks to Capture One, editing skin tones has never been faster or easier.

If you photograph people, it's almost a given that skin tones have given you trouble in post-processing. I've been there, and I'm sure you have too! You nail the shot, the edit is fast and easy, but then you spend forever trying to fix variations in the subject's skin, and at the end of it, you're still unsure if everything looks okay.

Here, I'll show you a step-by-step process on how to quickly adjust skin tones in Capture One using C1's Layers feature. This tool makes for an efficient and no-fuss process!

How to Edit Skin Tone in Capture One
  • Start in the color module tab and create a new filled layer. (You can check out the details of layers and other tools in our 5 Amazing Capture One Tools article.)
  • Further down in the color module, select the Color Editor tool.
  • You'll see 3 tabs labeled Basic, Advanced, and Skin Tone.
  • Select the Skin Tone tab, grab the eye-dropper tool, and click on a skin area that falls somewhere in the midway range between light to dark. A color wheel will now appear, showing the color selection that you made.

Before we move on, let's talk about the skin tone sliders and what they do:

From the top down:

The smoothness slider dictates how far the selection gradient extends beyond the specific color selected.

Below that, you see two groups of sliders, each with adjustments for hue, saturation, and lightness.

In the amount section, these sliders change the values of these variables. Sliding hue left or right adds more green or red to the skin. Sliding saturation adds or subtracts the color in the selection, and lightness adjusts, well, the lightness in the selection.

The uniformity section below (and this is an important difference), adjusts how "blended" these values are. For instance, if you slide the hue slider to the right in the uniformity section, C1 will blend the different hues together. The further to the right you go, the more uniform the blend. This is also true of the saturation and lightness sliders in the uniformity section.

The best way to understand what these sliders do is to just play around with them. Start in the amount section and then go to the uniformity section. You'll see the differences very quickly.

Okay, moving on.

  • Adjust the sliders until you have something that looks nice to your eye.
  • HINT: You can check the box labeled "View selected color range" to easily see the changes you've made. Ticking the box will show the color you're adjusting and make anything else in the image black and white.
  • All that's left to do now is fine-tune the layer mask.
  • Uncheck the Selected color range box if you have it selected.
  • Go back to the Layers panel, select the layer you're working on, and press the "M" key. Pressing the "M" key brings up a red overlay on the image. This is because, in the beginning, we created a filled layer.
  • We need to remove the mask from any areas that we don't want the adjustment to affect—specifically, the eyes and lips.
  • In this image, all we need to do is use the Eraser tool ('E' Key) to remove the mask from those areas.

In some images, your skin tone adjustment may have also impacted other surrounding tones. In those cases, this step will look a little different. Instead of only erasing the unwanted areas, you will remove the mask entirely and paint it back in the areas you want to adjust.

Here's an example and how to do it:

  • Right-click on the layer and select "Invert Mask."
  • Now, use the Brush tool ("B" Key) to paint the mask back into the areas you want. Make sure to leave the lips and eyes unpainted.
  • The mask doesn't have to be perfect and exact. You can paint/erase it pretty quickly. If you need to adjust it further, you always can. That's part of the beauty of layers and masks.
  • Press the M key again to toggle off the red overlay.
  • You can check your skin tone layer on and off to see a before and after. You can also adjust the opacity of the layer to lighten the effect.
  • Go back to the color editor tool and make any further adjustments needed.

That's it! Other good news about this tool is that these adjustments copy and paste as well. (Be mindful of any mask adjustments that you may need to do in a copy/paste scenario.)

You can learn about more Capture One tools in our 5 Amazing Capture One Tools article.

If you're a member of the Mastin Labs Facebook Group, share your Capture One experiences with us there!

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