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Lightening Dark Skin with Luminosity Blending – part-2

This is part 2 of a detailed article.  Be sure to also check out part 1.

We saw how to lighten dark skin using the red channel luminosity in my last post. This post explores an additional technique to “Pop” the highlights for further lightening. The idea here is to emphasize just the highlight portion of the skin tones and add a bit of 3D pop!

Start by selecting “Merge Visible” from the Layer options flyaway menu WHILE holding down the Option/Alt key (very important!) As long as you have the top layer selected when you do this, Photoshop will place a copy of the image with all the adjustments of the layer stack at the top of the Layer stack (shown here as Layer 1)

Desaturate this layer using a Hue/Saturation adjustment directly (from the application menu at the top of the screen): Image-> Adjustments-> Hue Saturation…

Push the Saturation slider all the way to the left to end up with a gray image. Bear with me here – this step helps prevent an unwanted saturation boost once we get to the Overlay step…

At this point you might want to rename the layer “Highlights” to indicate its function so you don’t get confused later when you open the image back up.

Now we’re going to run a filter on this layer. This layer will then be applied in Overlay mode to complete the effect but for now select: Filter-> Other-> High Pass…

At low radius settings the resulting image can be used to create a kind of sharpening effect – we are after a more bas-relief kind of look so use a larger radius (here about 15) to create a more sculptural look – you are looking for the maximum contrast in the highlights on the face…

After applying the filter change the Layer blending mode to “Overlay…”

The result will have more contrast but we will want to limit that contrast to just the highlights – right now the shadows are getting darker as well and that is giving the image a harsh look!

We’re going to blend though the darkening portion of the Overlay layer using our little friend the Layer Style dialog. As before, double-click into the empty section next to the Thumbnail for the layer…

This time use the black slider in the upper gradient and push it to the exact center so that it reads 128 – now anything that can darken the underlying layers is blended through so it has no effect. We are now left with just the highlights intensified. This gives us a nice sculptural effect without adding the harshness that extra contrast would normally have. Compare with the unaffected image…

The correction is now complete and we have enhanced the shape of the face and other areas of skin at the same time lightening the skin without having to create a mask to control the effect. See how much more alive and 3-dimensional the image seems compared to the original. You can tweak the intensity of the effect very easily because everything is in a layer – just adjust the layer opacity for any of the layers to suit…

This channel blending technique has many variations and can be applied to a wide range of imagery to create enhancement effects that are quite powerful but very natural looking. The key is in analyzing the individual channels of the color image and applying the grayscale luminosity of these channels against the color image to affect the value structure of the image – photography is all about the lights and darks!

I have numerous advanced tutorials like this on my web site at: www.varis.com. I have a complete online course that examines all of the more advanced concepts in much more detail called: The 10-Channel Workflow—enroll here: 10-Channel Workflow Online

 

* special note: this image is copyrighted by Anthony Nex ©2004, please respect his rights and only use this image for your educational efforts, thank you

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