How To Easily Match Skin Tones In Photoshop

Use this simple Photoshop process to match skin tones in uneven areas. This method also works particularly well for matching lighter facial tones to the rest of the body’s color. Aaron Nace uses just a few adjustment layers and levels to quickly create a cohesive look:

How to Match Skin Tones in Photoshop

  • Start by analyzing your colors. Create a new layer. Grab a paint brush and sample (alt/opt+click) the colors of the skin—from darks to lights,  from both the desired color tone area and the one to adjust.
  • Paint each color in between selections, creating a sort of swatch. This will create a simple visual representation of the color tones to help you determine what adjustments need to be made in terms of warm and cool, light, and dark tones.
match skin tones in photoshop

Create a swatch of tones from the adjustment area, and the desired tonal area. Analyze the colors to see what levels, in what channels, you will need to increase to get the desired tonal outcome.

  • When using this procedure to match face tones to body tones, you will need to darken and add warmth (with oranges, usually a combination of yellows and/or magentas). However, all skin tones are different and it’s best to experiment with your image.
  • Create a new layer. Go to adjustment layer and create a new Levels adjustment layer.
  • In properties, change the channel to Blue. The opposite of blue on the color spectrum is yellow. Pull the right hand side of the slider inward (to the left). This will slightly darken and add yellow to the highlights. Play around with the slider to get the desired tones.
match skin tones in photoshop

Work primarily with the green and blue channels, which will allow you to increase the magenta and yellow tones of skin.

  • Switch the channel to green. Again, pull the right side of the slider inwards. This will add magenta to the highlights.
  • Add a layer mask.
  • Tip: Group your working layers before adding the masking layer. Any adjustments you make will automatically be applied to all layers in that group. Do this by selecting your layer and clicking the little folder button.
  • Invert your layer mask (Command/CNTRL + I ). Painting with a white brush on the layer mask will apply the effects of whatever is on that layer, such as the new skin color. Similarly, painting with a black paintbrush will remove the effects.
  • Paint along the areas to be edited. If painting a face, be sure to avoid the eyeballs and lips.

match skin tones in photoshop

  • Add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Drag down the saturation slider. Try about -15.
  • Any time you are doing this technique and adding color, you will most likely have to apply slight desaturation to keep the tones looking natural.
match skin tones in photoshop

When adding color to skin, be sure to de saturate them slightly in order to create natural looking results.

  • Delete or erase your color sample patches.
  • Bring down the opacity of the grouped layers. Try about 80%. This will lessen the effect and create a more realistic finish.

match skin tones in photoshop

match skin tones in photoshop

A lighter face now matches the rest of the body’s color tones.

This technique is a quick fix to help blend uneven skin tones, with a natural and smooth finish.

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3 responses to “How To Easily Match Skin Tones In Photoshop”

  1. Dan Richards says:

    To much work. It can be done in Corel, with a lot less effort, and just as good. After Corel bought JASC, and improved their program, I have never looked back at Adobe.

  2. Corel is a great program. This too is one easy and surefire method to quickly correct skin tones. There are innumerable programs and ways to go about this – this is just one example! Thank you for sharing your personal preference!

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