photoshop creative

How to balance skin tone in group shots

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
January 8, 2013

To fix skin in group photos, we can select just the faces we want to adjust using a mask

Step 1

The first thing to do is to add a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer via the Layers menu. Call it ‘skin tones’ and hit OK. The adjustment will appear in the Layers palette with its mask as white.

Step 2

Boost the Saturation slider until pale faces begin to show better colour (a setting of +25 is usually enough). Ignore the rest of the image at this stage. You can always go back to the adjustment settings.

Step 3

Press Cmd/Ctrl+I with the adjustment layer’s mask selected to invert it from white to black. This hides the changes made.

Step 4

Use the Eraser tool (E) set to a soft brush to paint over the faces. This will reveal the adjustment underneath and show up as white bits on the layer mask.


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  • Robin

    This looks like it would solve a problem I am having with color casts – I am all good until I get to step 3 – Cmd/Ctrl+I. — Nothing happens. — No black in the mask area – (I tried playing around with the commands and found that I can close all tools bars etc. with ctrl+I…:/)

    Any suggestions??

  • okto

    That’s because the Invert key command is Cmd-SHIFT-I. THe writer of the article seems to have made a typo. ^_^

  • Simon Skellon

    Hi Robin,
    This is interesting, because in my Photoshop Invert is Cmd+I (look under Image>Adjustments>Invert). This is what you need to flip any mask from white to black, or vice versa. Might be worth following the menus, as it seems the shortcuts are different for you.

    This is not to be confused with the ‘Inverse’ command, which is Cmd+Shift+I (found under Select>Inverse). This is used with selections to turn the area around.

    Hope that clears some things up?