Forums > Digital Art and Retouching > Is there a real-world skin tone reference chart?

Photographer

Harry Torque

Posts: 37

Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands

Is there a standard skin tone reference chart with real-world images of various ethnicities out there? I'm not looking for just patches of flat skin tone as they are not very helpful, but actual faces so it's easier to match a certain reference skin tone to a model I'm shooting.

I have of course several printing test patterns, some of which include skin tones. But there's typically only one or two faces. Pantone sells a very nice collection of 110 skin tone patches, but those are physical - not what I'm looking for as I use a ColorChecker Passport for color balancing.

I'm thinking of just creating my own from images I find appealing, but was wondering if someone else has done a similar exercise already.

Oct 31 12 03:42 am Link

Photographer

Neil Snape

Posts: 9473

Paris, Île-de-France, France

I don't think you can find much. The X-Rite Passport is all I know with multiple pigment patches which are low in illuminant metamerism. Skin as you know is 3D and make up or other meteorological states greatly alter the reflections and rendering.

It would be interesting to have a head with various colours of the X-Rite Munsell pigmented inks to see how they respond on a non flat surface!

Oct 31 12 03:56 am Link

Retoucher

Greg Curran

Posts: 204

Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

looks like there is now

http://www.pantone.com/pages/pantone.aspx?pg=21046

anyone out there used this yet?

Oct 31 12 04:29 am Link

Photographer

Harry Torque

Posts: 37

Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands

Greg Curran wrote:
looks like there is now

http://www.pantone.com/pages/pantone.aspx?pg=21046

anyone out there used this yet?

That's the one I was referring to in OP. But I'm looking for a computer file with faces.

I created my own with 40 faces, but I can't share it since I don't hold copyright to any of the images (celebrities and models).

Oct 31 12 11:01 am Link

Photographer

Ruben Vasquez

Posts: 3115

Puyallup, Washington, US

Neil Snape wrote:
I don't think you can find much. The X-Rite Passport is all I know with multiple pigment patches which are low in illuminant metamerism. Skin as you know is 3D and make up or other meteorological states greatly alter the reflections and rendering.

It would be interesting to have a head with various colours of the X-Rite Munsell pigmented inks to see how they respond on a non flat surface!

smile Meteorological states? Isn't a scientific study of the sky a bit overkill for matching skin tones?

Oct 31 12 04:06 pm Link

Retoucher

Natalia_Taffarel

Posts: 7665

Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Ruben Vasquez wrote:

smile Meteorological states? Isn't a scientific study of the sky a bit overkill for matching skin tones?

Actually that's the main role of a photography producer in an advertising agency or study. When you're not working at the level where you can hire a producer, guess who's got to take weather into account when planing shoots? Yup, you smile

Oct 31 12 04:26 pm Link

Photographer

Ruben Vasquez

Posts: 3115

Puyallup, Washington, US

Natalia_Taffarel wrote:

Actually that's the main role of a photography producer in an advertising agency or study. When you're not working at the level where you can hire a producer, guess who's got to take weather into account when planing shoots? Yup, you smile

I think my communications professor got to me because this reminds me of a story he told where, rather than responding to a request by saying, "sure, I'll throw that away for you," he instead to chose to say, "I'll ensure that your garbage is properly disposed of in the appropriate trash recepticle."

Oct 31 12 08:02 pm Link

Photographer

Photographe

Posts: 2350

Bristol, England, United Kingdom

My experience of charts is that they are useful for only a few weeks/months.

Also I am scratching my head.

Ok so you have two identical skin tones. Ok Model number 1 please jump up and down for 2 hours with that balldress on. Model number 2 please stand still for 2 hours nude and look demure. 2 hours later you have two totally different tones of skin.

And yes, some black people do go red with embarassment or in the sun etc. This is something so subtle it is vast and immeasurable perhaps. People literally do go grey or yellow according to various illnesses or toxicities...

There are a million factors involved, so I wonder the usefulness of a chart. No sorry, a chart would be very good, I just wonder the brilliance of any existing chart at the moment.

Oct 31 12 08:12 pm Link

Photographer

billy badfinger

Posts: 830

Tampa, Florida, US

Great question!!!
There is a HUGE range of "acceptible" skin tones.
Throw in the huge difference in modern computer monitors (calibrated or not.) and skin colors are all over the place!
Kodak and Fuji used to have a "Shirley" print but it was only for average
caucason skin...
If in fact you can resolve this...bazillions of people will be indebted to you.
Good luck to you...keep us posted.

Oct 31 12 08:21 pm Link

Retoucher

Digital Soup Retouch

Posts: 1433

Los Angeles, California, US

here are a world of them ... please use google wisely!


Skin tone chart


one of my favs Sorry for the blow out but you want this full size!

No soup no mo

Oct 31 12 08:27 pm Link

Digital Artist

Koray

Posts: 6688

Ankara, Ankara, Turkey

that last girl is pretty smile

Oct 31 12 11:34 pm Link

Photographer

Neil Snape

Posts: 9473

Paris, Île-de-France, France

Meteorological states was a nicer way of saying sweaty, oily, swollen, dry, parched, etc. 

You are asking about predictable skin tones. I am saying that mapping 3D with the above and make up if any, you cannot have such a thing. Of course if you want to believe, the Pantone chart above would put you in their marketing game!

What reference what colour model etc all make it a very loose idea of what skin colour means and is or is not. Measuring colour on a 3D surface with so many variables make it a challenge. At Gretag ( now X-Rite we used a Spherical spectrophotometer to measure anything other than flat surfaces.

It took years to learn all of that , happy now to have forgotten most of it.
I did work on the Passport, and other Munsell + RIT charts though....

Oct 31 12 11:54 pm Link

Photographer

TMA Photo and Retouch

Posts: 728

New York, New York, US

We did a test like that...but for reasons of image copyright... we didnt include the models faces as part of the chart.  Sorry OP.

One of the things we wanted to do was to identify (numerically and visually) skin colors that represented the "magazine version of preferred skin tone colors".  For each ethnic group...there seemed to be several ranges of color tones that were fairly prevalent and preferred. Magazines have to get these skin colors just right...so their viewers are happy. 

We captured the models highlight colors, general skin color, the cheek colors, the blush tones, and the shadow colors. 

So now what we sometimes do is to paint in and contour the 5 different kinds of shades and colors into an image.

Here is one kind of chart we came up with for ourselves (less the models faces)...that shows the colors and tones... both visually and in RGB and CYMK numbers... so we can paint... or create color correction curves. 

You could spend the time and commission your own study and formulate the unique characteristics that you want to capture for your own needs.  This is the kind of thing you can spend the time to do just once... and then use it often afterwards.

Heres an example of the skin colors we found helpful to map.  The 5 colors are all from the same model...but from different places on the face or body...so they match and blend well.
There are several ethnic color runs...some in here... and others on charts by themselves.  Once you create your own map...you can slice and dice it many ways.

http://www.glamourretouching.com/mm/skinpallet2012.jpg

When you make up your own chart...you can put in the models faces or bodies as part of the chart...that way its most helpful to what you want.

Nov 01 12 09:19 am Link

Photographer

Harry Torque

Posts: 37

Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands

Digital Soup Retouch wrote:
here are a world of them ... please use google wisely!

I did, and found that. Of limited use to me since it is a very small sample size of mostly wrong types of models, and that there's no guarantee that the skin tones have been eyeballed to be "correct" by anyone else than the artist, who may or may not be a color correction authority.

Thanks for the page widening, though.

TMA Photo and Retouch wrote:
We did a test like that...but for reasons of image copyright... we didnt include the models faces as part of the chart.  Sorry OP.

Thanks for this! I have a rather large sample at 40 models, so I could do the same and do some comparison on the ranges. Great idea to turn the images into patches to make the effort slightly less subjective!

Nov 01 12 11:47 am Link

Retoucher

Digital Soup Retouch

Posts: 1433

Los Angeles, California, US

Harry Torque wrote:

I did, and found that. Of limited use to me since it is a very small sample size of mostly wrong types of models, and that there's no guarantee that the skin tones have been eyeballed to be "correct" by anyone else than the artist, who may or may not be a color correction authority.

Thanks for the page widening, though.


Thanks for this! I have a rather large sample at 40 models, so I could do the same and do some comparison on the ranges. Great idea to turn the images into patches to make the effort slightly less subjective!

Those are Pantone skintones, if you dont know how to use them I am sorry... If you are looking to steal skin patches you are better off learning how to do real retouch... otherwise im very confused by what you want.

Nov 02 12 09:24 pm Link

Photographer

Harry Torque

Posts: 37

Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands

Digital Soup Retouch wrote:
Those are Pantone skintones, if you dont know how to use them I am sorry... If you are looking to steal skin patches you are better off learning how to do real retouch... otherwise im very confused by what you want.

TMA and others understood what I'm looking for, so it must be you.

Nov 03 12 02:38 am Link

Retoucher

Digital Soup Retouch

Posts: 1433

Los Angeles, California, US

Harry Torque wrote:
TMA and others understood what I'm looking for, so it must be you.

But that very chart was in the link I gave you and you said it wasnt . Then you made a strange comment about the large one which had portraits that was what you asked for... so im thinking KOOKOO!


Here is what you said...'Is there a standard skin tone reference chart with real-world images of various ethnicities out there?"

I provided you with one of them and you mocked it.

again KOOKOO

Nov 05 12 06:57 am Link