There are many books, articles and web based tutorials on the art of retouching the human skin. In general, most of these deal with the concept that skin colors all fall within a given range based on the race of the subject. While this is a generalized concept, it is difficult to apply this idea to skin retouching in a realistic manner. Using such concepts and applying the normal tools available to us in our digital editing programs, we tend to get widely varying results even among supposedly similar images.

In our development of the Portraiture plugin, we've discovered quite a few unique things about the composition and digital portrayal of human skin. We've done this through careful, nitpicking analysis of thousands of images shot in various lighting scenarios as well as by actually taking skin color samples with specific hardware. We've found that there is a vastly varying tonality to the human skin, even within the range of one person's body. Figure 1 below shows such a sampled variation and also goes to prove that even though there aren't really big differences in the RGB values of each patch, our eyes can perceive a lot of variation due to the lightness and darkness of each patch, and not just the actual color.


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