Color Manipulation for Portraits: Headshots


Advanced Color Correction in Capture One


Lesson Info

Color Manipulation for Portraits: Headshots

So before starting, let's just do some base adjustments. It's pretty good out the box, I have to say, I don't know if there's a great deal I would do with it. Let's zoom in... And you see skin tone-wise he's actually pretty even, but there's a little bit of kind of a cool tone going up here as well, so it might benefit from an adjustment. So make a layer, let's call that skin. Grab a brush... Zoom in a touch. Do a quick mask, remember it's M to see the mask. I'm gonna include his hair as well. Again, you could probably spend a bit more time and care than me, but... So let's do our shortcut. Fill mask. And then we can press E for eraser, right click to get our brush size, and then we can just take out the color, like so. And now we have a nice, quickly produced mask. So, into our color editor, grab our color picker. Choose a decent skin tone, I'm gonna go kind of around this area, I think, like so. Again, we're in a local adjustment, so I don't feel nervous about getting a good expansio...

n out. And then drag the hue across, saturation, and then lightness we wanna be careful with 'cause we don't wanna remove that modeling, but sometimes you find if there's a bit of a hot spot on the subject, that just a little tweak of the lightness, you can see going back and forth, obviously there's no way I would go that far. But just a tiny tweak might be good. And with this particular shot we can see we're picking up a reflection from somewhere. I don't know where, it's probably something passing by. But as well as using the... Skin tone tab, there's no reason why we can't go to advanced, pick out that color, and then just knock the saturation out, like so. And then we've got rid of that color cast as well. So we could do that quite easily, like so. And then without much work we've more even skin tone, no color cast, just with a... A quick mask, like so. Now, of course, if you wanted to copy paste this to a whole slew of images, then of course your mask isn't necessarily gonna exactly fit. But you'll find once you start getting good at drawing masks, it really doesn't take you long to throw on... a quick mask, like so. Let's have a look at another one, and we'll throw in an extra trick that we can do here as well, let me just give a new variant for this one. So same as before, base corrections are pretty good. I might just lift up exposure and... shadows a tiny bit. We can see his skin tone, again, is pretty good, but we can always benefit from smoothing it a bit and doing an extra trick, which I'll show you. So let's make a new layer, skin. Grab a brush, it's B for brush, which is again a faster way to choose it as opposed to picking it here. On to our image, right click, draw our quick mask... Like so. We can say fill mask, which you could drive with a shortcut. E for erase. Make my brush smaller, take out this section here... Like so. Go to my color editor, skin tone tab, and we'll M to turn off the mask. Grab the skin tone picker, I'm gonna choose somewhere around here. Again I'm not nervous at expanding this out 'cause it's gonna be limited by my local adjustment mask. And then I might just... do the eyes as well, for this one. Again, you might spend a little bit more time than me, but you get the idea. Let's turn our mask off, and you can see his skin tone does vary to a certain amount. So we can drag the hue across, saturation, and again be careful with lightness, not to go too far. And again, how long did that take? That was probably one or two minutes. Again much harder to process that, take it into Photoshop, use layers and different brushes, again, to even out the skin tone. An extra thing we can do, we already have this mask, so we could use this for something else. So if we make a new layer, and we'll call this... Soften. Like so. Not strictly color, but we'll allow it. (laughs) And we can say copy mask from skin. So I've got an exact mask here. I could do it on the same layer, but if you wanna keep it separate it's good to know that you can copy masks across as well. Whoops. So it was there, copy mask. And then what we can do, we can use our clarity tool just to do a little bit of negative clarity and negative structure. And all that does is a slight bit of softening. So if we turn that on, turn it off, we can just take the edge off. And what we could also do on our background is turn off sharpening, and then we could just concentrate our sharpening on a different layer, for example. So blending, sharpening and noise reduction on layers, that's something we'll have a look at in the advanced manipulation as well. But if you've done a skin tone mask, then it's easier to just copy that to do a slight mask for softening as well. How far you wanna go is up to you, but it can just take the edge off, if you wish. It's important to point out Capture One is not a retouching program, we can do sort of basic retouching tasks, but it's definitely, in this case, not a replacement to Photoshop. But to do something quick and easy like this, then it's really simple to do. So if I do an option click, this is how the image came in, and this is how the image looks after some of it's layer adjustment. If we didn't want to blur our eyebrows, like you asked in the audience before, then we can just edit this mask just to take that softening off. And we definitely wouldn't want it on the eyes, like so. But looking at his skin tone, it's now nice and even. If we just turn that off... So you can see how the color range changes just down here. If we turn that back on, nice and even, and we've reduced that hot spot as well, just with the simple sliders. Also on the bridge of the nose is often a space where the skin tone can vary too.

Class Description

Color is at the heart of any photograph and Capture One has an array of precise tools to influence it. Join David Grover, Capture One educator and expert to see how to work with a variety of different photography genres in Capture One. David will show you how to:

  • Use the Color Editor’s advanced function to pick, edit and adjust colors
  • Use the Color Editor’s skin tone tab to optimize and normalize skin tones
  • See color edits on landscape, commercial, travel and fine art images

By the end of this class, you’ll be able to use your creativity to color correct images in Capture One.

Software Used: Capture One Pro 10


Jakob Lehner

I use CP1 for about two years now being pretty happy with it and my color editing skills. So I thought, nahhh not for me I know it all... After some time I bought it on sale and I couldn't be more wrong. I learned much more in the first 40mins than in the last 2 years from YouTube tutorials. This one is really great, highly recommend it!


David's knowledge of the color correction process in CaptureOne is amazing! This class has not only adde to my knowledge of color correction, it has shown me how to do it with a quicker and easier process.