Discover skin color CMYK to make your designs look good in all formats

If you find that your portrait prints or designs with people don’t look realistic, skin color CMYK will help you keep the colors as you see them on your graphics tablet or computer.

To be clear about what CMYK is, we must review the definition offered by the Online Printing portal. This platform focused on the printing of graphic material, states that this term refers to the colors used in printing and in some advertisements that you can find online.

Therefore, if you want your illustrations to look impeccable in all formats, you must know what the CMYK of skin color is, as well as the different skin tones that exist and that we can see, for example, in the skin phototypes according to the Fitzpatrick scale.

It is enough to take a look around us to realize that there is a wide range of skin colors, with different shades, ranging from pink to brown. As a good graphic designer, photographer or illustrator, you can not fail to inform yourself about it to create or edit your next compositions .

So, if you want to know which skin tone you should use in your project or simply want to learn more about skin color shades and how to obtain them in CMYK, this article is for you. By the way, in the final section, you will find a list of skin color brushes for Photoshop, which you can download for free.

read on!

what is skin color?

It is also called “flesh color”, that is, the one that represents the skin of Caucasian people. It is known as the standard or universal color and it is the same color we used when we were kids to color.

However, what we know as “skin color” is nothing more than a shade that is characterized by a very light shade of orange.

Some variations of this shade are as follows:

cmyk color pielImage: Encycolorpedia

While in the CMYK model, this shade of skin color has magenta, yellow and a slight value of black, but no cyan.

The CMYK values of this skin color are:

Cyan: 0% (0.000)
Magenta: 13% (0.126)
Yellow: 20% (0.202)
Black: 1% (0.008)

Well, now that we have the skin color CMYK values that we all have in mind and remember almost automatically, keep in mind that this path has just begun. The skin color shades are actually more than what we can see around us.

To give you an idea, pay attention to the following image:

tonalidades color pielImage: VectorStock

what should be taken into account when rendering skin color in CMYK?

When it comes to skin tones, some photographers and designers work under a reference guide, in which we find some basic things to know about skin tones, because, as you have seen before, there are not few of them.

In this guide you will find general information that will serve as a guideline for you to use CMYK skin color in any of your projects.

Below, we present it to you:

Darker skin tones tend to have higher cyan, magenta, yellow and black values, but the cyan value will always be the highest.
Both cyan and black serve to neutralize the intensity of magenta and yellow.
Lighter skin tones tend to have lower cyan, magenta, yellow and black values.
A light skin tone requires more of the brightness of magenta and yellow, and less of cyan and black.
The black value is present only in some skin tones.
It is always preferable to use cyan to neutralize the other colors.
Because of its density, black tends to dull all shades, while cyan generates dark shades of a complementary nature.
The magenta value will always be lower than the yellow value (between 0 and 10% less), as the skin tone tends to be more yellow than pink.
The proportion of the cyan value is between 1/3 or 1/6 of the yellow, this is the sufficient range to neutralize its brightness and generate the shadow tone that all skin tones have.
Asian skin tones tend to have a higher yellow value.
African-American skin tones tend to have higher values of cyan, yellow, magenta and black.
All colors in higher values are necessary to generate darker skin tones.

tonalidades color pielImage: Pexels

what is skin color CMYK for?

You have probably done many print proofs and still can’t find the skin color CMYK you were looking for, which generates an imbalance between what you have created and what you are delivering to your client, because the image you print will not look the same as your original creation.

Knowing which CMYK skin color you need for your next project is essential to have a printed product that looks amazing. Think about it, every design person should be able to maintain a consistent image between the sketches they deliver to their client and the final product. Otherwise, you would be detracting from the professionalism of your work.

Therefore, you should keep in mind that most domestic and industrial printers use CMYK inks. So achieving the skin color you expect depends, therefore, on mixing cyan, magenta, yellow and key in defined proportions. Remember that skin color is diverse and not a single color or shade.

So, if at some point in your work you have to deliver printed material, you need to start designing with that in mind. Also, did you know that even the thickness of the paper can change the color of the skin in a print? While that’s a lot of things to consider if you want to be successful, let’s focus on skin color CMYK for now.

diferentes tonalidades de pielImage: Pexels

how to get skin color CMYK values in Photoshop?

Although it sounds complicated, there are several methods to identify the CMYK skin color code in any image, so you can replicate those tones for use in your artwork to add a realistic effect.

Here’s how you can identify the CMYK skin color values from a photograph using the favorite program of many digital artists: Photoshop. Before you start, make sure your monitor has the correct calibration or at least within the standard.

Now follow these steps:

1.once in Photoshop, use the F8 key to open the information panel. This is where we will see the CMYK values of the samples we will take.

2.then, go to the toolbar and select “color swatch tool”, located below the “eyedropper”.

cmyk color piel en photoshop the “color swatch” tool options bar (at the top) change the “swatch size” to “average 11×11”. This in case the photo is large. If it is medium, “average 5×5” is recommended.

4.look for medium tonalities in the person’s face. That is to say, that they are not in shadow or with a lot of light. Generally, the recommended areas are: the chin, the nose or between the eyebrows.

5.take the samples. You will see the values in RGB, so the next step is to change them to CMYK. the same information panel click on the eyedropper of each swatch (#1, #2 and #3) and select “CMYK color”.

cmyk color piel en photoshop

7.finally, you will be able to see the values you were looking for and evaluate them with the reference guide, and thus define what would be your correct swatch.

is it possible to find the CMYK of the skin color online?

On the other hand, if you don’t have a photograph at hand to perform the above procedure, but you still want to find out what skin colors exist to create your next illustration today, we have the perfect solution for you: ShameColor.

This site offers you more than 10 skin color scales to enhance the look of your designs, including RGB, CMYK, html color code, color names and variations of each skin color palette you choose.

Once you have the CMYK skin color you need, you will be able to say goodbye to the artificial tone prints that did not meet the characteristics of the drawing you had initially elaborated.

shame color pagina principalImage: Shame Color

how to paint the different skin tones?

Skin tones, as we told you before, have different shades. Therefore, it is important to learn how to generate the skin colors we are looking for when we start a portrait or illustration project of different people.

For this reason, we will tell you some tips that will help you in the creative and artistic process.

1. Keep in mind the range of skin colors

In addition to knowing the CMYK of the skin color, the key to painting skin types is to know that there are color variations. Knowing this is vital if you want to create a natural, realistic and warm skin color.

These color type variations exist because the skin is not uniform throughout our body and always reflects the colors of the surrounding environment.

The mistake most designers or illustrators who are just starting out make is to choose a single color for the entire skin. Another common mistake is to use one darker and one lighter color code of the same color.

That “CMYK skin color” palette limits us in illustration and on several occasions can give results like these:

pintura tonos de pielImage: KMC Morris

At first glance, it seems that we have different types of skin color, but the reality is that this image has many color bases and this results in an artificial skin. We are sure that, if you are a designer or illustrator, you will know what we are talking about.

2. Pay attention to the colors of the whole skin

Skin colors always tend to follow a pattern, especially when it comes to faces. There are some people who tend to have yellow tones on the forehead, sides of the face and neck. However, others tend to have a bit of pink on the cheeks, nose and ears.

Remember that we are talking on a general level and that we all have uneven features. Also, skin tones will look different in different environments depending on the lighting.

With that in mind, you will most likely have to look for various skin-colored CMYKs to make your artwork look good everywhere you look.

tonalidades de pielImage: L’Oreal Paris

The types of blends and color schemes run on a very wide spectrum and the best thing you can do is to look at the faces before illustrating them. This way, you will be able to notice the conditions and elements that make each person a unique being with different shades.

For this reason, the best thing to do is to learn how to create a color palette so that you don’t lose sight of the different combinations and skin tones.

3. Look for visual references

In order to portray the various types of skin colors, it is important that you can find the right amount of shade variations. This takes practice; but it is not impossible to achieve.

One way to achieve skin coloring in its different ranges is observation. Constantly look at photographs, portraits, illustrations of people. Thus, you will be able to paint in Photoshop with realism and with a level of detail that everyone will praise.

Here are some examples that will help you:

gamas de color pielImage: Inside Out Style

tonalidades de color pielImage: Inside Out Style

4. Have a realistic palette of skin tones on hand.

If you have ever wondered how to make skin color in Photoshop, remember that, as you have discovered above, the range of skin colors is wide and infinite. The important thing at this point is to identify which skin tones are within the same range so as not to generate abrupt changes in your illustration .

In that sense, skin color palettes are intended to demonstrate which are the varieties of tones that you can illustrate in your drawings. These models can help you see how skin tone changes on a person.

paleta de colores pielImage: Pinterest

how to correct skin color tones easily?

Throughout your career as a designer or photographer you will have to face various challenges or requirements from your clients. Therefore, it is not enough to know what the CMYK of the skin color is.

For example, if at some point you need to correct a skin tone that is not uniform to one that looks neat for advertising purposes, how can you do it?

Before panicking, you should know that skin tone modification is not a big deal and, although it may seem complicated, it can be done efficiently by considering the following tips:

Avoid very orange, reddish or yellowish skin tones.
It is also not advisable to add too much saturation to skin tones, as the result will be unnatural.
Use saturation only to even out the skin tone, otherwise the skin will look dull and gray.
If the model in your photo has very orange skin, to correct her skin color you should work with the colors red and yellow.
Go to the Properties panel and set the yellow and red color to a lower value.

To illustrate this explanation, we share with you an open lesson by Amina Donskaya, teacher of the Fine Art portrait photography course, where she explains how to correct skin tones in simple steps.

how to diminish spots and textures in skin color?

If after matching the skin tone of your model you identify some spots and textures, we recommend you to check this tutorial and learn the Dodge and Burn technique in Photoshop.

This technique will not only help you to diminish these spots, but also to improve the transition from light to shadow.

how to retouch skin with frequency separation in Photoshop?

A good skin retouching is the one you don’t notice. Therefore, frequency separation in Photoshop is one of the favorite techniques of photographers to achieve this finish. To do this, it is necessary to separate the color and texture of the image into two layers and work on each one independently.

Follow this video to learn how to retouch skin tones with this method.

how to build color palettes according to different skin tones?

If you are into illustration, you must know that skin tones are one of the subjects you must master if you are interested in creating characters. But how to achieve the right skin tone?

First, consider that you should use a base color and two shades: one for the shadow and one for the light. Then, we recommend you to take into account the following:

Choose a good base color: make sure it is not reddish or yellowish, unless it is a non-human character.
Choose a shade to shade the skin of your character: do not darken the base, it is best to choose a shade with a violet tendency from it.
To get a second shade, take the color of the first shade and move it closer to violet.
To give light to your character’s skin, take the base color and modify its tone to one with a yellow tendency.

On the other hand, you can also resort to the skin color palettes that you can find on the internet. These will be very helpful, because they already have designated colors and shades to paint or color directly.

Here are some examples of skin color palettes:

tonos pielImage: @puppsicle

tonos pielImage: @puppsicle

Now, if you are looking for a palette of skin colors to paint in anime style, take a look at the following. Remember to paint in this order: base color, shadows, blush, highlights and reflected light.

tonos de piel animeImage: Nanniimo Tasnim

paleta de color piel animeImage:

how to get skin tones in Photoshop?

To build your skin color palette, you must learn how to get skin tones directly from your photographs or from illustrations that you find interesting enough to replicate.

For this, there are 2 methods that can help you, which we will describe below:

Method 1

A practical and quick way to obtain skin tones is to use references. For example, through a photograph. If you use Photoshop, follow these steps. in Photoshop the photograph that you will use as a reference to get the skin tones you want.

colores piel en photoshop

2.go to the top of the screen and click on Filter > Pixelize > Crystallize

colores piel en photoshop

3.under “Cell Size”, set a value between 120 – 150. Click OK.

colores piel en photoshop

This way you can get different skin tones (with tones for shadows and highlights) and start painting in Photoshop.

Method 2 your reference photo in Photoshop.

2.go to the top of the screen and click Filter > Filter Gallery > Artistic > Quartetting.

colores piel en photoshop

colores piel en photoshop

Set the following values:

Number of values: 8
Edge simplicity: 3
Edge fidelity: 1

tonos color piel

that’s it! You now know two quick ways to get the skin tones.

what are the Pantone skin color shades?

Angelica Dass is a Brazilian photographer who never understood why human beings were classified as “white”, “black”, “red” and “yellow”.growing up in a colorful family, as she calls it, meant that color was never important. Outside the home, however, color seemed to have many meanings laden with stereotypes and concepts.

“I was made of flesh, I was brown and people said I was black,” she recalls. One day she had an idea: to use her profession to find an answer to what was happening. Thus was born the Humanae project, which seeks to display a chromatic range of the different colors of human skin with the help of the Pantone color palette.

colores piel pantoneImage: Angelica Dass

In her lecture “The Beauty of Human Skin Color” at TED, Dass explains the process of her work like this:

“I take the photos on a white background, I take a little 11×11 square of the nose, I paint the background [with that swatch] and I name it after a color palette called Pantone. And I use this palette because I know the number of the color white, I know the number of the color black and in this project, which has 4 thousand portraits, I have not been able to find any human being that frames in what is black and white”.

As you may have noticed, there are more colors and shades behind the well-known “skin color” or “flesh color”. Let us learn to value the richness of our diversity, that which is manifested, for example, in the different shades of skin color.

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