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Post Production Tips

How to Quickly and Easily Correct Red Blotchy Skin in Photoshop

By fotosiamo on August 29th 2013

When it comes to red blotchy skin, there are several ways to correct it. For example, Lightroom has the HSL/Color panel in the Develop Module. Photoshop also has a similar adjustment layer called Hue/Saturation and it has two important functions that Lightroom’s HSL panel does not have: Color Range and Masking. Here is how to easily and more effectively correct red blotchy skin in Photoshop.

[Free Tutorial: 4 Lightroom CC Features You Should Be Using]

The Original Photo

00-original

One of the problems with red blotchy skin is that they are very irregular and are fairly dispersed around the skin. Because of this, manually masking them off with a layer mask would take too much time and effort. A quicker way to isolate the red skin is to use the Eyedropper and Color Range Function within the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer.

01-Original-Close

Step 1: Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer & Open Red Color
The first step is to add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and switch to the “Reds” under the second drop down menu.

HSL-Adjustment-Layer

Step 2: Use the Eye Dropper on Reddish Skin
Notice that there are 3 sets of Eye Droppers near the bottom of the Hue/Sat panel. Underneath that is the Color Range panel. Both work in tandem to help you isolate colors that will be affected by this adjustment layer for Reds. Pick the first eye dropper and sample one of the red blotchy skin. The Color range will adjust according to that sample color.

02-HSL-Panel

Step 3: Slide Hue All the Way to the Left

Next, take the Hue slider and slide it all the way to the left. The color for the skin should look very crazy like below. This is actually how you can easily tell what part of the skin is being affected by the Color Range. In this case, all of the skin is still affected so we will have to shrink the Color Range limiter until only the red, blotchy skin is selected.

03a-HSL-Panel-Adjusted

Step 4: Adjust the Color Range Selection Until it Only Affects Red Blotchy Skin

This is the most important step in this technique. In the Color Range, there are two sets of limiters on both sides of the affected color range. The two small boxes at either ends are the absolute limit of affected colors. Next to these boxes are longer rectangles that feather the amount affected.

HSL-Adjustment-Layer-Color-Range

What you want to do is play around with this Color Range limiter until you shrink the affected colors so it only affects the red blotchy skin. You can easily see what is affected in real time because the Hue slider is all the way to the left. If you were to do this while the Hue slider was still at 0, you will not know what part of the skin is going to be shifted.

03b-HSL-Panel-Readjusted

Step 5: Color-Correct the Red Blotchy Skin
Once you are satisfied with the area that you are want to correct, reset the Hue slider back to 0 and start moving it incrementally to the right until the red skin starts to blend in with the rest of the normal skin. In this case, a Hue amount of 15 effectively corrects the red skin. You can also adjust the Saturation and Lightness Slider as needed.

04-HSL-Corrected

Step 6: Use Layer Mask to Mask off Areas such as Lips
Because certain areas such as the lips may be affected by this Color Range, you may have to use a Layer Mask and a Black Brush to mask off areas that you don’t want this Hue/Sat Adjustment Layer to affect. I also masked off his eyes in order to preserve the reddish tones in his iris and near the tear ducts. That’s it!

05-Lips-Eyes-Masked

Before and After

Before
00-original

After
Final

Comparison
Final-Comparo

About

Joe is a fashion and commercial photographer based in Los Angeles, CA. He blends creativity and edge with a strong style of lighting and emotion in his photographs.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ryan Schmidt

    and how in the hell do you adjust the color range on step 6? both bars wont move at all

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  2. Ryan Schmidt

    i am following you step by step, and nothing! i am frustrated and lost where you say to rest the hue back to 0. Lost after this, so frustrated

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  3. Noz Urbina

    So useful! Been looking for a simpler way to do this for years!!! THANK YOU! Note that it can sometimes drain the colour from the lips, which is especially not good for people who have nice lips/lipstick so I had to paste a copy of just the mouth on the layer on top of the adjusted one.

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  4. Natalie Weyermuller

    I am doing this on a different computer than I normally use and I cannot select the eye dropper in the hue sat layer. Any idea why? 

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  5. Berit Hill

    How do I create a Layer Mask to Mask off Areas such as Lips?

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  6. Thang Nguyen

    great tutorial, thanks so much

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  7. Joseph Prusa

    Great tutorial !

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  8. Elizabeth

    You’re magnificent. Wow, what a, easy to understand tutorial. Just what I needed to fix an important portrait shot. I appreciate this so very much. All the best,

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  9. Mikhail

    So I just tried this on a headshot with a man that’s wearing a red and black plaid shirt, it took the red out of his face perfect and looks very natural but when I hide the layer to see the before I notice the shirt he’s wearing has changed a little orange-ish red. Does this procedure only work if there’s no other reds in the picture?

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    • Mikhail

      Oh I just figured out I should layer mask out the shirt too and now it’s perfect! thank you so much for providing us this, makes the skin tone perfect!

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  10. vjaycafe

    I have another way more simple to get the similar result (or maybe better) than this one, than save this in action to do in 1 click.

    I follow this tutorial:
    http://vinacamera.com/?p=2224

    Than save to action, and just simple click this action.
    All steps complete in …1 second

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  11. Larry

    Thanks for the tips! I’ll be using eyedropper to change the skin color now. Some apps are hard to use.

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  12. Valerie Van Spengen

    Great tutorial – I will be using this one for sure. I love it when they don’t have a million steps. Thanks for sharing this.

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  13. Felipe

    Exactly what I’ve been looking for. Thanks for sharing!!!

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  14. Martin Wills

    Great tip, thanks for sharing.

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  15. Eric D

    Wonderful tips! Thanks

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  16. Lubin

    I do the same sort of thing in lightroom with the brush tool and masking the skin tones I want to change.

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    • Joe

      The issue with Lightroom, however is that you can’t sample and isolate the specific red tones like you can with the Color Range limiter in the Hue/Sat slider. This technique ensures that you don’t have to manually mask off non-red skin.

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  17. Frank

    Nice tutorial. I will try this. Thank you for sharing!

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  18. Ali

    What a fantastic tutorial! Thank you so much!

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