advanced photoshop

Quick trick: Mimic Golden Skin

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Tips & Tutorials, by Anna-lisa Saywell

Learn retouch effects that enhance skin tones, using photoshop colour adjustment options and blending modes

Quick trick: Mimic Golden Skin

Many photographers debate whether photo retouching is a good or bad thing, with some seeing it as cheating. However, it’s undeniable that every creative industry is bowing to the editing power of Photoshop, using it to quickly and effectively retouch a range of images.

Beauty retouching is a prime example that is in high demand. In this area, photo editors will use Photoshop to improve model shots in many ways, which are all made accessible by the magnitude of Photoshop’s tools and option sets. Compositing and tonal correction in particular are paid close attention in the commercial publishing and print arenas. Due to beauty retouching’s popularity, it’s easy to replicate effects that look overly synthetic, for instance saturating a subject with smooth skin. So achieving professional effects becomes all the more important in proving your technical ability.

Here we reveal the best way to achieve skin toning effects to an industry standard and specifically how to give your model a realistic golden tan. You’ll learn how to achieve this advanced result in three simple steps, through applying little more than Photoshop’s gradient map and blending mode options.

Step 1: Choose a gradient style

Quick trick: Mimic Golden Skin

It’s best to apply this effect to a more exposed image. Select the Gradient tool and open the Gradient Editor, setting a warm brown (#643a21) to beige (#d1b6a1) tonal scale. Click OK and, with this gradient style active, apply a gradient map from the Layers>Adjustment options.

Step 2: Apply brush work

Quick trick: Mimic Golden Skin

Isolate the gradient map to the model and, with a 100% black soft-edged brush, apply to your gradient map layer mask. Erase away from the subject’s lips, eyes and outside edges. You can mask away from hair and also carefully from the eyelid and ear areas using a 20% Opacity brush.

Step 3: Add blending modes

Quick trick: Mimic Golden Skin

Once satisfied with your gradient map coverage, set this layer’s blending mode to Soft Light and decrease the Opacity to 50%. Duplicate this layer and place the new copy beneath the original. Reset the duplicate’s layer blending mode to Multiply, setting Opacity between 30% and 40%.