How to make creative color correction of pictures with channel mixer

October 23, 2015   13135 views

Let's face it, even with ideal lighting and great makeup,  a beautifully tanned model with awesome skin, you may confronted with an image where you either just don't like the look of your  models skin tone, or maybe we just would like to change overall how her skin tone looks.

In this tutorial I will show you one of my frequently used tips and tricks in Photoshop for fashion photographer on getting some seriously sexy shades of beautiful bronzed skin that really pops!

First let’s look at the original photo:

channel mixer postprocessing tutorial Photoshop

Technical parameters:
Camera: Hasselblad H3DII-31
Lens: Hasselblad 80 8.2
Focal Length: 80 mm (65 mm in recalculation to 35 mm format)
Aperture: f/14.0
Exposure: 1/200
ISO 200

I purposely shot Katya (model) with a “Hard Light” look using a reflector. Remember, the more distance you put between your subject (model) and the actual light source,  the ”harder” the light you'll get,  giving you sharp dramatic contrast lines both in your subject and any shadows that they may cast on a nearby background. (If you are really into Hard light photography, I recommend the “ Profoto Spot small”, with this great tool in your arsenal, you can get very hard light at almost any distance. Profoto spot small actually uses a lens at the light source and will  give you theater type lighting results. Yes, there are other brands but I like Profoto spot small. This is equipment I work with.

I put our model on a white cube in the corner formed by white walls which as you can see creates a rather bizarre shadow on the wall. 

Now lets look at postprocrssing I made with this photo:

First thing I do, after opening my image in Photoshop CS6, is to create a new adjustment layer CHANNEL MIXER and change the mode to monochrome. Now you can see three channels (Red, Green, Blue) and can change the influence of each channel that is presented in the final image. In order to avoid the trouble of counting, the bottom of the window has the sum of the values that will warn you when you exceed a value of 100%.

If you put the channels in the Channel Mixer to the designated levels, you will get an image almost identical to that obtained with HUE SATURATION.

However, lets look for other solutions and put the channels on other levels. So add CHANNEL MIXER

The Channel mixer postprocessing tutorial fashion

Let’s first see how it looks if there is only one channel, such as RED. I agree, not too good!

Channel Mixer Postprocessing tutorial Photoshop 

If we leave only the green channel, the picture will look familiar to the picture we could get with HUE SATURATION:

The Channel mixer postprocessingTutorial beauty channel mixer

Now let’s look at the blue channel! Effectively! Here the skin tone looks similar to a black model, or to an Caucasian girl with a seriously overdone tan!

The Channel mixer postprocessingTutorial beauty channel mixer

I slightly enhance this effect by putting the value of the blue channel to 110% and -10% of red. Sub-zero values of the effect looks as if it were subtracted from the output image. So we have added the blue channel by 10%, and the RED channel is subtracted by 10%. It turns out into the image you see below. At first glance it may seem unacceptable, but not to worry,  we are just beginning our postprocessing.

The Channel Mixer Postprocessing Article tutorial Photoshop 

As a side note, I did use a medium format camera was used by me to get this picture, so the quality of channels, even the blue (no noise, grit, stains, so typical for 35 mm cameras), is very high, its definitely on of the perks and pleasures one experiences when shooting editing high-quality pictures.

Now copy the first layer and move it up setting blending mode to COLOR. Thus, we return the original color of the image.

Photoshop channel mixer postprocessing tutorial fashion 

After using CHANNEL MIXER, this color does not look natural. The prevalence of the blue channel changes colors and increases their intensity. To make this picture more natural, add a layer of HUE SATURATION with 40% reducing of color saturation.

Photoshop channel mixer postprocessing tutorial fashion 

Now the result is more interesting, nice looking, but still unnatural and overdesigned. In order to eliminate it, I return to the Channel Mixer layer and change opacity to the level of 70% to get the final image that got me this :

Photoshop channel mixer postprocessing tutorial fashion 

Remember that these values and adjustments are appropriate for this particular image, Ive overdone them to a degree to show you  the influence of the powerful Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer. These are not universal settings, so you are invited to play around with the settings of each channel, You never know until you try. After a while you will be an old Channel Mixing Pro, creating images and skin tones in Photoshop that uniquely set you images from the rest!

Photoshop channel mixer postprocessing tutorial beauty

Good luck!