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Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies, 2nd Edition

Lee Varis, Rick Sammon (Foreword by)
ISBN: 978-0-470-59212-0
368 pages
August 2010
Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies, 2nd Edition (0470592125) cover image


Revised and thoroughly updated, this practical guide to photographing people is better than ever!

What is the color of skin? You may think you know, until you enter the world of digital photography and try to reproduce what you see. Differences in software, lighting, computer calibration—everything has an impact on color. And that’s all before you get into differences between people in terms of skin types, ethnicities, age, gender, and more! Hollywood-based photo-illustrator Lee Varis guides you step-by-step through the maze.

This new edition covers the very newest trends and techniques in photographing, lighting, and editing skin—and offers plenty of tips, examples, and valuable advice from the author’s own professional experience in the field.

  • Shows you how to digitally capture all skin types: male, female, young, old, different skin tones and ethnicities, with makeup or without, wrinkled, tattooed, and more
  • Covers a wealth of topics in addition to photo editing, such as how to obtain model releases and compose shots, how to shoot groups, and how to create promotional headshots
  • Incorporates the latest on working with Photoshop and Lightroom
  • Showcases exceptional work from a variety of photographers and artists

If you're photographing people, you’ll want this valuable and unique guide on your shelf.

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Table of Contents



Chapter 1 Digital Imaging Basics, Workflow, and Calibration.

Chips and Pixels.

Your Monitor and Calibrator.

Basic Digital Capture Workflow.

Setting Up a Lightroom Catalog.

Calibrating for Digital Capture.

Building a Camera Calibration.

Using Camera Profiles.

Editing Camera Profiles for Better Skin Color.

Working with Your Calibration.

Calibration Review.

Testing Procedure Overview.

Putting Color Management in Context.

Chapter 2 Lighting and Photographing People.

Lighting Technology.

Basic Portrait Lighting.

Rembrandt Lighting.

Natural Light.

On-Camera Flash.

Breaking the Rules.

Advanced Lighting Techniques.

Ring Light.

Combination Lighting: Daylight Plus Flash.

Controlling Natural Light.

Action Stopping Lighting.

Experimenting with Light.

Chapter 3 The Color of Skin.

White Points, Black Points, and Places In-Between.

Zone System: Contrast and Tone.

Neutral Color: Using Balanced Numbers.

Curves: The Basic Color and Tone Tool.

Contrast Control: The Basic Curve Shapes.

Info Panel: Reading Basic Numbers.

White/Black Point Correction.

Adjusting the Numbers for the Color of Skin.

The Family of Man: Cultural and Psychological Issues.

Cultural and Personal Color Bias.

Chapter 4 Tone and Contrast: Color and B+W.

Converting to B+W.

The Channel Mixer.

Split Channels: Layer Blending.

Luminosity Blending.

Instant Tan.

When Color Overwhelms: Look for the Good Channel.

Hue/Saturation Toning Effects.


Gradient Map Colorizing.

The Power of B+W.

Chapter 5 Retouching.

Basic Image Repair.

Hue/Saturation Color Repair.

Skin Smoothing.

Beauty Retouching.

Subtle Retouching.

Figure Thinning Techniques.

Chapter 6 Special Effects.

Soft Focus.

Basic Diffusion Effect.

Screen Diffusion.

Multiply Diffusion.

Overlay Diffusion.

Depth of Field Effects.

Lens Tilt Effect.

Film Grain and Noise.




Enhancing Existing Tattoos.

Faking Tattoos.

Final Notes.

Chapter 7 Preparing for Print.


Unsharp Mask.

Smart Sharpen.

Multiple Sharpening Layers.

Octave Sharpening.

Overlay Sharpening and High-Radius Effects.

Color Management for Print.

Translating from RGB to CMYK.

Profiles and Look-Up Tables.

Soft Proofing.

Desktop Printing.

Print Options.

Output Simulations.

Creative Print Finishing.

Background and Canvas Options.

Edge Treatments.

Last Minute Fixes.

Chapter 8 Parting Shots.

The Creative Workflow.

Future Developments.


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Author Information

Lee Varis is a photo-illustrator working in Hollywood. He has been involved in commercial photography for three decades. His images have been featured in National Geographic, Newsweek, and Fortune magazines, and both his writing and photography have been featured in trade journals such as PDN, PEI, Design Graphics, and others. His work has appeared on movie posters, video box and CD covers, and in numerous brochures and catalogs. Varis conducts seminars and workshops for APA, PPA, ASMP Maine Media Workshops, Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, and LIGHT Photographic Workshops. He is the president of LADIG (Los Angeles Digital Imaging Group).
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Download TitleSizeDownload
Chapter 2 samples 10.86 MB Click to Download
Chapter 3 samples 2.35 MB Click to Download
Chapter 4 samples 1.41 MB Click to Download
Chapter 5 samples 2.80 MB Click to Download
Chapter 6 samples 3.60 MB Click to Download
Chapter 7 samples 1.24 MB Click to Download
Original Skin Files
All the sample files for the first edition of Skin. Some of the same images are used in both books. If you only have the 2nd edition, you'll want to download these layered .psd files.
7.22 KB Click to Download
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