How to Correct Skin Tones and Stylize Your Photo in Photoshop

There are million ways to edit and stylize your photos in post production. Some of the methods can be quite daunting for photographers that are new to the world of Photoshop, which is why Aaron Nace is here to show us one of the approaches he takes when editing his photos:

Adding a Color Balance Adjustment Layer

Below you will see the sample image Nace works on throughout the video. While he really likes the composition and content of the image, the color temperature and skin tones don’t sit well with him, so he walks us through how he adjusts them.

fix skin tone in photoshop

Here is the original image Nace began working on.

  • To correct the always starts by adding a Color Balance Adjustment Layer and working with the Midtones first. To bring back some of the orange hue of the skin tone, he moves the sliders more towards the Yellow and Red Channels. He does the same thing for the Shadows.
  • Still working on the Color Balance Adjustment Layer, he adds a little Cyan and Blue to the highlights to add a coolness to the reflected light.

After applying changes to a Color Balance Adjustment Layer.

Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer

Next, Nace restores some of the color that was washed out in the front woman’s dress by adjusting the saturation.

  • First, add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and change the drop down menu to Yellow and use the Eye Dropper tool to click on the yellow dress and increase the Saturation.
  • Now, change the drop down menu to Magenta and repeat the last step this time using the Eye Dropper tool on the other woman’s dress.
  • Go back to the Master Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and adjust the Hue to further boost the skin tones.
stylize portraits Photoshop

Before (left) and After (right) the Hue/Saturation Adjustements were made. Notice the how the yellow dress stands out more in the after?

Adding A Light Flare & Warmth

Nace wants to give this photo more of a retro look by adding a light flare coming from the direction of the sun:

  • Add a new Layer to the image and press “G” to open the Gradient tool. Now sample the sky in the background using the Eyedropper tool and add a gradient from the top left of the image to the bottom of the image near the center. Adjust the opacity down so the gradient isn’t so overwhelming.
  • Now add a Curves Adjustment Layer and boost the Reds then reduce the blue channel. To make this adjustment only visible on the light flare, press Command (or Alt on a PC) + I. With the Gradient Tool still selected, retrace the path you made while make the last Gradient. Go ahead and group all the Adjustment Layers together to stay organized. You should now have a nice golden tone that looks like this:
photoshop secrets

A golden tone was added using the Gradient Tool.

Some Final Adjustments

By adding an additional Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and using the Colorize feature to turn the image Blue, Nace brings some of the coolness back into the image using the Layer Style window and adjusting the Underlying Layer slider until everything looks just right.


Finally, Nace adjusts the Levels of the blue channel slightly, then brings down the Saturation of the entire image, afterwards using a Layer Mask to remove the final Saturation level off their faces for some subtle but necessary adjustments.

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