By using a few guidelines, the skin tones in your photographs will be more pleasing.
Go to Skin Tone Samples for thirty examples of skin tones.
Remove any overall color cast before judging skin tones.
Because they print their user's photographs, SmugMug knows what people like and don't like in regard to skin tone.
SmugMug reports that their customers don't want color accuracy in their skin tones.
"The customer wants to look good and she's allergic to red."
Your goal, rather than accurate skin tone, should be the desired skin tone.
SmugMug has found that:
"90% of all you need to know is that you can never let the yellow % fall below the magenta % on anyone's skin unless you're trying to show sunburn."
Photoshop Elements doesn't show values for yellow, magenta, and cyan (CMY).
The program only shows red, green, and blue values (RGB).
Adapting for this, you want to make sure that:
• The red value is greater than the green value.
• The green value is always greater than the blue value.
In other words, R > G > B.
By observing R > G > B, you won't have skin tones that are grossly too red or too magenta.
Go to Measure Color.
In the charts below, you can see how the R > G > B guideline is followed with the skin tones in these photographs.
(Measured on Forehead)
(Measured on Right Cheek)
In each of the above skin tones:
• The red value is more than the green value.
• The green value is greater than the blue value.
There's a great deal of variation in skin tones, including variability within a grouping, especially Africans and people of African heritage.
Also, the skin tones of groupings overlap with other groupings.
And, as mentioned, the desired skin tone may be different than the actual skin tone.
The culture of a grouping, may determine the optimum skin tone in a photograph.
For example, Caucasian people in the United States may be shifting away from desiring tanned skin tones.
As discussed, the green value is greater than the blue value.
The young woman, above, has 14% more green than blue.
The woman, above, has 57% more.
By how much the green value is greater depends on the group.
While all groups have more green than blue in their skin tones, Asians and Hispanics have, or may prefer, somewhat more green than other groups.
Or, if you're using CMY values, they have, or prefer, more yellow than magenta.
African people, and those of African heritage, have, or may prefer, widely varying amounts of green.
But, they have more green than blue.
With CMY values, they have, or prefer, widely varying amounts of yellow, over magenta, depending on preference and heritage.
Caucasian people have, or may prefer, only a little more green than blue in their skin tones.
So, the green value is only slightly greater than the blue value, when compared to other groups.
With CMY values, they have, or prefer, only a little more yellow than magenta.
Caucasian babies, and Caucasian people with very fair skin, may have only slightly more green than blue, if not equal.
With CMY values, they have only a little more yellow than magenta, or equal amounts.
The parents of these babies, and the people with fair complexions, may prefer having more green than blue, even though these values don't represent their actual skin tone.
As mentioned, the red value is greater than the green value.
If changing blue and green don't correct a skin satisfactorily, vary the red value.
An increase in red will shift the skin toward less saturation (gray to black).
With CMY values, vary the cyan value.
Some African people, and some those of African heritage, may have more red than Asians, Hispanics, and Caucasians.