Colorist Tip #14 – Keep Skintones

Skin tones are critical in a look. No matter how far you push the look, you have to keep the skintones relatively natural. There are two main methods to get an aggressive look and still keep the skintones natural: push/pull & secondaries.

With the more aggressive looks that we see today, it’s important to keep skintones relatively natural. They don’t have to be exact, but you don’t want to see a green or a blue person (unless you’re watching the Smurfs). The example looks in the previous post are great examples, but you can also take a look at the shots below. While the skintones may vary in saturation and lightness, they all have about the same hue:


After - Notice the cool background, but the skintones remain a warm hue


After - Very desaturated, almost bleach bypass, but still with warm skintones

Now let’s look at another case:


A "Matrix' look

This is a quick look that emulates The Matrix. While the skintones aren’t as warm or defined as in the previous examples, you can still see the warm tone in the highights, and a quick look at the vectorscope for this image confirms the tones along the skintone line:

The whole image is greenish, but notice the hues along the skintone line

They may be as desaturated as the bleach bypass look, but they’re there.

For the next few days, we’ll look into how to keep the skintones natural while pushing the look. We’ll check out the push/pull method, and how and when to use secondaries to pull them back instead. For a more information and a great read on this topic, be sure to check out Stu Maschwitz’s post about it on Save Our Skins

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