Retouching Dark Skin

The edit re-visted.

The edit re-visted.

This is one of those edits that keeps coming back to haunt me. I have edited this photo time and time again. I’m guessing (without looking) I must have five different Photoshop files on my hard drive of this image. The biggest challenge is that I did not shoot the image. So I had no control of the lighting and yes… lighting is everything. While doing the many edits and different versions of this image I learned a lot and I came up with a few good processes for editing dark skin. Editing dark skin presents different challenges that one would face with light skin editing. Of course if you have control of the lighting you overcome a major challenge from the start. But as a “Re-toucher” you do not have that lighting control. You must start the race after everybody else has left the gate.

Here in the USA a retoucher must become accustom to all skin styles, for the fact that we have them all. As apposed to let’s say a retoucher in Asia where you do not have as much light skin people to edit. The one funny thing I find is that age old “the grass is always geener on the other side of the fence” when it come to people with their skin. Asian people, mostly women spend millions of dollars a year trying to lighten their skin, while their caucasian counterparts do the same to look darker. Because I travel to Southeast Asia and see the people first hand it amazes me when I see magazine adds, models on billboards and just advertising  images in general, the people are more white then me. And waking down the streets of Bangkok I never seen a Thai person as white as what is on the billboard on the highway.

The image above was edited using Adobe Photoshop CS6, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 & Color Efex Pro 4 as well as Lightroom 4.

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