Any retoucher worth their salt will know how to work with any skin tone. However, I tend to find that this is one area where photographers and retouchers struggle, as there is a tendency to overly lighten the skin tone or wash out its depth and texture.
If your portfolio does not show a range of diversity or you do not feel as skilled in this area, this will be one aspect you should start working on improving, because it is the mark of a true professional.
In today’s video tutorial by Kayleigh June, you will learn how to dodge and burn subjects with darker skin tones. It’s important to note the differences between working with fair skin tones versus darker tones, as typically you will use dodging more than burning for fair skin when it comes to more fine-detailed local corrections.
However, this is where most retouchers make a mistake in reverse, as too much dodging will lift several shades of the model’s genuine skin tone when it is naturally darker. The solution then is to lean more heavily on burning for making your corrections, to keep this aspect intact.
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It is advisable to clean up more noticeable issues on the skin prior to dodging and burning, particularly for texture concerns. Working on a New Blank Layer and cloning or healing, you can address these issues before you begin to buckle down for dodging and burning. As this step often requires some dialing in (such as lowering the opacity of the Dodge or Burn layer), it is best to ensure that this won’t cause issues with your workflow as you move onto other steps such as color grading and possibly shape-manipulation.
Follow along with the video below, and be sure to practice with different subjects with a wide range of skin tones to really grasp this concept fully.