Subtle color removal

Discussion in 'Photoshop Tutorials' started by Dennis Kuhn, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. Dennis Kuhn

    Dennis Kuhn Guest

    I'm using PS 7, and I've used various techniques with varying success,
    but I keep getting the nagging feeling there's a simpler, better way
    to do this...

    I'm working on restoring an old color photo, and after adjusting the
    RGB levels to bring back as much color info as possible, I
    occasionally get a strange coloring artifact. For instance, last
    weekend, I ended up with a girl with great color for her clothes and
    most of her face, but her chin had a faint greenish tint to it. If I
    tried adjusting the levels some more, something ELSE would get thrown
    off, so I try to work on just that section.

    I've tried Replace Color, I've tried doing a very soft selection on
    the area and cloning skin color from the cheeks, and I've tried using
    the Adjust-Hue and Saturation.

    All three techniques work, but require lots of fiddling around. Do I
    have tool blinders on? (Am I ignoring some other tool that is better
    suited to this?)

    Or do I just need more practice? Any suggestions?

    Dennis Kuhn, Feb 16, 2004
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  2. Dennis Kuhn

    Flycaster Guest

    It seems you're missing a key PS ingredient: namely, masks. Learn how to
    use your selection tools and make masks so that you can control the exact
    areas you want to adjust, as well as those you want to leave alone.

    Global adjustments are exactly that. You press on the balloon in one area
    and it will bulge elsewhere, usually where it is not wanted. Get out the
    manual, read up on making selections and using masks, and you'll avoid this
    Flycaster, Feb 16, 2004
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  3. Dennis Kuhn

    Tom Guest

    This is a no-brainer.

    Go here:

    This is Color Mechanic Pro from the Digital Light & Color folks. This is
    the brainchild of Jonathan Sachs the inventor of Lotus 1-2-3. He does color
    work now and this is a "must have" plugin IMHO.

    Great stuff.

    Tom, Feb 16, 2004
  4. Dennis Kuhn

    Uni Guest

    Practice makes Perfect:



    Any suggestions?
    Uni, Feb 16, 2004
  5. Dennis Kuhn

    Dennis Kuhn Guest

    Making selections is pretty straightforward for me -- I use the lasso
    tool or go to that alternate selection method where you paint your
    selection, which allows less than 100% selection of pixels. You're
    right, I'm not that well-versed in masks beyond the simple levels
    adjustment masks for global.

    But still, after I've properly selected the problem area, how would
    you suggest I remove one particular shade of color, like a slight
    green tinge from an otherwise flesh-colored patch of skin?

    Or are you saying that there's a partof the masks section in the
    manual that will let me select only a chosen color? I've tried this
    with the magic selection wand, but since the pixels are various shades
    of pink-green, it's really hard to get the ones I want.

    Dennis Kuhn, Feb 17, 2004
  6. Dennis Kuhn

    Tacit Guest

    But still, after I've properly selected the problem area, how would
    Use a paintbrush set to Color mode to paint in the appropriate color, or use
    Image->Adjust->Curves to correct the color.
    Tacit, Feb 19, 2004
  7. Dennis Kuhn

    Flycaster Guest

    First, are you sure this green color cast doesn't exist throughout the
    image? Try to find neutral tones throughout the image (white, black, or
    some grey tone) and see if the RGB values are the same. If not, make a
    global adjustment curves layer and eliminate the overall color cast. This
    takes care of about 90% of all color problems right off the bat.

    If the cast just appears in a section or two, simply select them using the
    lasso with an appropriate feather, and then toggle an adjustment curves
    layer (the selections will automatically be added to the mask) In this
    example, select the green channel, sample-select the area you want to change
    inside the selection (ctl-click, which places the point on the curve for
    you) and simply adjust the curve by changing the numbers, or by drag-moving
    the point itself. Incidentally, this is virtually the same method many
    people use to eliminate global color casts, except here a selection is

    The magic wand is a poor tool for this type of edit, since you can't
    identify specific tones to work with. Another tool that you might want to
    experiment with is Color Range under the Selection menu. It creates
    feathered masks based on image samples that might do the job nicely in this

    You can also make the same adjustments using a levels layer if you prefer,
    but I find curves to be a bit more intuitive. Give these a shot and see how
    it works out. Once again, however, many local adjustments result from
    *global* color casts - try to eliminate these first, and you'll find that
    the need to make local correction edits diminishes a lot.

    As another recent thread suggested, work on the big stuff first.
    Flycaster, Feb 24, 2004
  8. Dennis Kuhn

    Dennis Kuhn Guest

    In the case of the photo I was working on when I posted my original
    question, it only appeared on the chin, which was kind of odd. But
    then, almost ALL of my restoration work has something odd in it. :)

    I once got a series of four 8x10's, taken over a period of about 10
    years at the same studio, let's say from 1970 to 1980. The studio
    didn't keep the negatives for these older shots, so I had to first
    photograph them (there was a drastic pebble grain texture that
    would've been tedious to remove from just a scan). The artifacting on
    the photos stared as very light on the first photo, to very prominent
    on the oldest.

    Here's the weird part: The artifacts strongly resembled _facial hair_,
    and appeared mostly in places where facial hair would normally appear,
    under the nose, on the chin, cheeks and neck. The lady who dropped
    off the photos explained that none of her sons and daughters ever had
    that stubble. :) Healing brush and cloning brush did most of my work
    on that one, but I've never seen such a thing before or since.

    I'll definitely take your advice in future work (and maybe just pull
    up the original files I was working on) to try the techniques out. I
    have a couple of good books on restoration techniques, but I think I
    skipped from the original PS manual to the specific techniques books
    too quickly now.

    It's always great to get new angles on problems from live people,

    I appreciate everybody's feedback in this thread!

    Dennis Kuhn, Feb 25, 2004
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