Make Skin Tones Pop in Portraits with This Photoshop Technique

Photo of Photoshop skin tip

Portraits don’t always look the way you want them to straight out of the camera. One of the biggest issues can be your subject’s skin tones, which may look dull or flat if not properly lit or if make-up – or a lack thereof – is off.

Fortunately, there are many ways to tweak a portrait during post processing. And, of course, one of the most popular tools to “fix it in post” is Photoshop. But Photoshop can be complicated and time consuming so it’s always great to know a few quick editing shortcuts.

In the below tutorial, Unmesh Dinda of PiXimperfect shows you how to make skin tones pop in portraits by using an easy Photoshop technique. As Dinda explains in the video at the bottom of this post, you can add dimension to skin by creating “Zones” in Photoshop. The result will be a portrait that has more depth and shape, which will help it stand out.

“This process is essential if the skin begins to look too flat or dull,” Dinda explains. “In the first part of the lesson, we will use the Lumenzia Photoshop Panel to automatically create Zone Curves using Blend-If, which is going to help us easily take control of different zones of Luminosity. In the second part of the lesson, we will learn how to do all of this manually, without the need for a Photoshop panel. We will use Curves and Blend-If, in general, to make it happen. ”

As he notes, the quickest way to do these portrait skin edits is to use the Lumenzia Photoshop Panel, which is a Photoshop extension created by photographer Greg Benz that costs $40. (Using the code PIX25 will save you 25%.) Lumenzia, however, is not essential as you can also do all the edits manually, which he demonstrates in the second part of the video. The trade-off, of course, is the manual approach takes a bit more time.

To follow along and try both methods yourself, you can download Dinda’s sample image from the video for free here. If you’re looking for another great editing shortcut but this time in Lightroom, check out this tutorial on how to use range masks to make targeted edits.

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