How to Quickly Fix Skin Tone With Too Much Shadow in Photoshop

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When you’re in the printing business it’s necessary to be quick at editing graphics supplied by clients in order to keep up with their delivery time requirements. My best friend Rommel Hachero is a co-owner of Bimbox Advertising and is always at the forefront of editing such graphics. As an expert in Photoshop, Rommel showed me quite an easy way of editing photos that have low-quality skin tones or too much shadow. So here’s how to quickly fix skin tone with too much shadow in Photoshop.


Please note that these procedures apply to CMYK mode files.

  1. Open the subject photo. As we can see in the sample, the skin tone looks somewhat okay but there seems to be too much shadow.
Too much shadow.
There’s too much shadow covering the skin areas.
  1. Duplicate the background photo by pressing Ctrl+j on PC. Create a blank layer that will be used as the color for the skin. You can name this layer if you want. I named mine skin color adjustment layer.
Duplicate background layer.
You can duplicate background layer.

You don’t actually need to duplicate the background layer, you can directly create the skin color adjustment layer if you wish. I duplicated the background just in case I need to edit it.

  1. On the skin color adjustment layer, set Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All.
Create Layer Mask.
Create a Layer Mask.
  1. Using the eyedropper tool select a skin tone color in the photo that is just right for you. My friend suggested the skin tone color should have zero Cyan and zero Black. Fill the skin color adjustment layer with this skin tone.
Fill Layer Mask with skin tone.
Fill Layer Mask with skin tone color.
  1. Set skin color adjustment layer to a blending mode of Screen and an opacity from 5%‒50%. I used 20%, but we can adjust this later if we like. Select the Layer Mask thumbnail then using Brush, start erasing the area that you want to fix the skin tone. Or you can use Path tool and Load path as selection, set a small amount of feather (1 px will do), then delete.
Set Blending Mode.
Set blending mode to Screen, adjust opacity, then delete Layer Mask using either Brush or the Path tool.
  1. After noticing that the subject looked like a vampire due to the pale color, I adjusted the opacity of the Mask layer to 7%.
Adjust opacity.
Adjust opacity if necessary.

I’m not an expert at photo editing/manipulation yet. So the output of this procedure is not well done as you can see below.

Original (left) vs. edited (right).
Original (left) and edited (right) versions of the photo with too much shadow.

But this technique that my friend shared with me is a welcome procedure in Photography post-processing.

Your Thoughts

So that’s how to quickly fix skin tone with too much shadow in Photoshop.

Do you have your own way of editing skin tones with too much shadow using Photoshop? Feel free to share them too in the comments.

Please do visit my Photography website at

Mercenario Cadag

Mercenario Cadag

The author has been in the publishing industry since the year 2000 and has exposure in both print and digital production processes (typesetting, page layout, and eBook creation). He is an aspiring writer and shutterbug. Has an insatiable desire to learn the cosmos but mostly enjoys studying how information dissemination could help improve people’s daily lives.

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