Heads and Bodies – Part 7

Finally, we’ve made it to the end of this chapter in How to Cheat in Photoshop, 6th ed., by Steve Caplin! Thank you for sticking with it.  Next week I’ll post a Friday Challenge. I promise.

Coloring Black and White Images
Sometimes, you need that retro look that only an old photo can provide.  In this tutorial, Caplin not only teaches how to colorize a monochrome image, but also provides some of the color swatches he’s created over time.

Colorizing an image isn’t difficult but it does require a light touch, with very low opacity brushes.  Here is the starting image and what I created by following Caplin’s instructions:

Coloring black+whiteBoth Before one starts colorizing, Caplin suggests using CYMK  swatches even when working in RGB so that the image will print true. Next comes giving the image an overall wash in a flesh-colored tone using Color Fill from the Edit menu, switching to Color mode and clicking on Preserve Transparency.  Then, with very low opacity brushes, color in the beard area, add some blush tones and pigment the lips, using the appropriate swatches Caplin provides.

For the eyes and teeth, Caplin recommends against using pure white as it will look unnatural.  Instead, he supplies an extremely pale beige swatch. And, if the results aren’t quite white enough, Caplin suggests using the Dodge tool on a low opacity to add the sparkle.

Finally, to color the clothes, make them into a new layer. Then try Curves, Color Balance and/or Hue and Saturation to recolor them.  I used a combination of all three.

Voila! Now our gentleman has that retro look.

From Light to Dark and Back Again
For our last lesson in putting a head on a new body, we learn how to match skin tones when the components are dissimilar. Caplin demonstrates with two extreme examples. Both use Curves to handle the task.

The first task is lightening a dark body to match a fair-headed man, as seen in the following image pair:

BOX.AM 44To start, I  copied the body skin to a new layer and then created a Curves Adjustment layer, ensuring that I checked “Use Previous Layer to Create Clipping Mask.” Note that Caplin always prefers to use an Adjustment layer, instead of directly adjusting the layer, because it can be edited later.

Next, the dark skin was lightened considerably  in RGB. Then, the Green and Blue channels were adjusted to give the skin a better match.  At this point, Caplin’s instructions stops.  He expects us to remember a critical process for combining two body parts, which he covered at the beginning of this chapter. Namely, to use a layer mask to make a smooth transition between the new head and the body. Without the mask, there will be a distinct line.  I was on guard for this and added the layer mask.

Solving The Opposite Problem
Of course the second half of this exercise darkening the skin to match the transferred head.  Here is the original and my results using Caplin’s instructions:

1964 65As in the first case, a Curves Adjustment layer in RGB is used to darken the skin of the body.  However, Instead of switching to the other channels, Caplin a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer is used to lower the saturation and tweak the hue.  Then Caplin suggests going back to the Curves Adjustment Layer and removing a little of the green in the skin.  Also as before, Caplin omits the specific instruction to create a layer mask for a smooth join between the new head and body.

When doing this type of work, Caplin suggests getting up and going do something else at the point you believe you’re “finished.”  That way, upon returning, you can see the image with fresh eyes, identify deficiencies and make any final adjustments.

There was one thing Caplin doesn’t mention, but it seemed obvious to me. While the bulk of the changes should be with the skin tones of the body, the head’s skin tones can also be altered slightly for a more realistic fit.

Next: Friday Challenges – A Lighthouse, A Mirror, and A Creative Female Builder

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