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lunedì 28 aprile 2008

How to remove a tan line

In this Photoshop tutorial we're going to remove a tan line on someone's skin.
Some people advice to correct an image like this in Photoshop with the clone or healing brush tool, but there are important issues when you use that approach:

  • It will destroy most of the original texture
  • It can lead to artificial looking textures
  • It can lead to irregular highlights and shadows

In this Photoshop tutorial we try to solve the problem using color samplers and a levels correction in combination with a mask.
The healing brush will be used at one point, but only to make some very minor adjustments to the tan line itself.

1. Correct color and brightness
This is the image that we're going to use in this Photoshop tutorial and you can save it on your hard drive (right click / save picture as...) and open it in Photoshop:

This image will open in RGB mode, but we're going to work in Lab mode; in the menu select Image / Mode / Lab Color.

Select the Magic Wand tool in the tool bar and use all the settings that I've marked in this screenshot:

Now select the area that needs to be corrected. You mi
ght want to zoom in. Hold down the shift key during every click to include all those areas that the magic wand ignored:

Click on the Create new fill or adjustment layer icon at the bottom of the layers palette, hold down the mouse button and select Levels... and click on OK. Later we will return to this Levels adjustment layer to make the actual adjustments.

Select the Color Sampler tool in the tool bar (if you can't find it, then it's hidden underneath the Eyedropper tool)

In the option bar select for Sample Size a 5 by 5 Average:

Click on the bottom layer that contains the photograph to make it the active layer (a brush icon will appear in front of it).

Click with the mouse once on the area marked with the blue dot and once on the area marked with the green dot:

Open the Info Palette.

You'll notice the two Color Sampler points number 1 and 2 that we just placed on the skin.

The numbers Photoshop's Info Palette show the color (a and b) and luminosity (L) or brightness values of the areas that are marked with these two Color Sampler points. Notice that in front of the L (Luminosity) value we have the number of the color sampler (#1 on the left, #2 on the right).

It's our goal to match the numbers for a and b of Color Sampler point #2 with the a and b values of the Color Sampler point #1and we do this with the Levels adjustment layer that we added earlier.

Double click on the thumbnail of the Levels adjustment layer to open the Levels window.

Select the a channel at the top of this window.

Move the white slider to the left until the value at A in the info palette is the same as the value at B:

Now select the b channel at the top of this window.

Again, move the white slider to the left until the value at A in the info palette is the same as the value at B:

Select the Lightness channel at the top of this window.

Move the gray slider to the right, until the the skin at the bottom matches the skin at the top (ignore the info palette):

It doesn't have to be extremely accurate for the moment. Ignore the darker edge between the two Color Samplers, only focus on the skin that's further away from this edge. With a value of 0.61you're going to be pretty close to what the actual value has to be (Input Levels, center box).

Tip: take a real pencil and hold it over this edge on your monitor, this will make it easier for you to make the adjustment.

Click OK

2. Correct edge

Select the Brush tool in Photoshop's option bar and use the following settings using a soft, round brush:

Make sure that the mask is still active (double border) and that your foreground color is black:

Slowly paint of over the darkest part of the edge with your mouse cursor (zoom in to about 250%). Avoid to paint below the darkest part. Don't be afraid to paint over the area above this dark edge (where we have color sampler 1), since we won't damage anything when we do this; that area is already black in our mask.
Take your time, but it doesn't have to be 100% perfect, because we're going to improve this edge in the next few steps.

When you're done, select the Lasso tool in the tool bar and create selection around the edge (only include skin!):

Tip: zoom in to about 400% to make an accurate selection. Don't make the selection to small, use the screenshot as your guide.

Note: normally you would feather (Select / Feather ) this selection, but in this case it turned out that there was no real need for it.

Make sure that the mask is active (double border) and that you're zoomed in at 100% (double click on the Zoom tool)

Select in the menu Filter / Blur / Gaussian Blur...

Move the slider towards a Radius value of 5 pixels and look at the effect it has on the selected edge in your Photoshop document window. Make some fine adjustments with the slider until you're happy with the result. I ended up with a value of 4.8.
When you're satisfied, click OK.

Double click on the thumbnail of the Levels adjustment layer to open the Levels window.

Select the Lightness channel at the top of this window.

Select the Gray slider to make some final adjustments to the Luminosity (brightness) of the corrected skin.
When you're satisfied, click OK.

The result after blurring the edge and the final luminosity correction:

Note that there is still a faint edge visible

Select the Healing Brush tool in the tool bar.

Use ALL the following settings and make sure you select the box Use All Layers.

Click on the top layer to make it the active layer and then click on the Create a new layer at the bottom of your layers palette to add a new layer.

We're now going to use the healing brush to make some adjustments to the faint edge and because we're doing this on a new layer with the healing brush option Use All Layers selected, the information that is visible in Photoshop's document window will be corrected and placed on the current layer. So we're not damaging the original photograph in any way. It also allows us to start all over if we're not happy with the result, by erasing everything on the current layer.

First you have to decide which source area you want to use for the Healing Brush, so move your mouse cursor to a useful area and while holding down the Alt key (Option key on the Mac) , click once and release the Alt key again.
Continue by improving the edge with single clicks on the areas that you want to fix. Don't make strokes with the healing brush, because in this example single clicks work much better. Keep an eye on your progress by turning off/on  this layer after every click or few clicks. Press Ctrl + Z (Command + Z on the Mac) to undo a single mistake.
At some point (close to the shirt) you might have to zoom in. Also make sure that you select a new source area for your healing brush if necessary.

The Final Result
(before image) :

(after image) :

Final words

As a last step you can consider to tone down the amount of red in the skin. Don't forget that the image is still in Lab mode. You can always return to RGB mode, but then you will have to flatten the image first or you'll lose the Levels adjustment layer.

Note that this Photoshop tutorial can also be used to match skin tones even when you're not dealing with tan lines like photomontages.

I hope that you enjoyed this Photoshop tutorial.

(thanks to Lunacore.com)
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