Washed-out and golden skintones effect in darktable

Washed-out and golden skintones effect in darktable

A fellow darktable contributor asked about the washed-out effect he discovered in one of my pictures.

Here is the photo in question:

Final image

Normally, when you want to adjust skintones in studio environment, there always are golden and silver reflectors around. That's the right way to do it. But if you really mean the global washed-out effect, you could make use of darktable.

The trick is basically a two-step operation: raising color temperature while lowering saturation. So here is the original image:

Original image

First of all, let's raise the exposure by 1.5EV:

Raising exposure

The next thing to do in this particular case is fixing composition for which the photo needs a ca. 10° clockwise rotation. You can do it in the crop and rotate plug-in which is in the correct tab.

Rotating the image

And now comes the actual trick part. Switch back to the basic tab and in the white balance plug-in drag the temperature in slider all the way to 12K:

Raising color temperature

The effect is eye-watering, but that's not for long, because the next thing you need to do is going to the color tab and lowering saturation in the color correct plug-in. If you go for 0.40, you get nice goldish skintones:

Golden skintones

If you go for 0.20, you get the exact washed-out look of the final image:

Washed-out colors

The last recommended part here is to bump clarity by applying a highpass filter in overlay blending mode.

Applying highpass filter in overlay blending mode

As you can see, it's really fairly simple. However the effect can be rather harsh depending on scene, and while it works on girls and babies, it doesn't exactly work on flowers and squirrels. Puppies and kittens? Mmmaybe. Use it wisely.

What are your favourite darktable tricks?

Was it useful? There's more:

27 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. It’s a good idea to start writing small Darktable tutorials…

  2. Alexandre Prokoudine 21 October 2011 at 6:51 pm

    @Sergey Sounds like a reasonable request to me :) Would you like to contribute? :)

  3. @Alexandre I’d like to. I just don’t have that many notable shots which are educational in the same time.

  4. Nice little tutorial.

    Which Software do you use?

  5. Um, darktable :)

  6. @Alexandre

    THX. I never see this software.

  7. Pretty simple ! I’ll better try this to seeif i can make it .

  8. Alan in Washington DC 29 August 2012 at 6:10 pm

    Alexandre - - One technique I enjoyed back in my film days was male portraiture using orthographic film. There is something about its exaggerated response to green that makes men’s faces look rugged and interesting in a B&W print.
    Do you have any suggestions how to achieve this in Darktable? I’ve found nothing on the topic anywhere else. Thanx.

  9. Alexandre Prokoudine 29 August 2012 at 6:51 pm

    Alan, it’s an interesting topic, and it sounds like a call for a challenge. I’ll need to do some reasearch :)

  10. That’s supercool I always wanted to do this never really got to do it as good as you showed here, thx a lot man!

  11. Very nice and detailed tutorial. I love the final effect. The hair and skin tone really look golden.

  12. I love tutorials that really go into detail on those nice techniques. Were you using lightroom for this tutorial? I figured that you can do the same thing in photoshop as well and have a similar response to the image!

  13. This method is comparatively Photoshop however this was exceptional new item i get for this excercise by utilizing this strategy it easy to conform lightroom contrast,brightness,color.

    Trick photography and special effects

  14. Cool progra! Gonna have to try it for my hair color to get washed out.

  15. Nice tip. Lots of ways to do this but this seems quite an easy one and quick too.

  16. Hello Alexander,

    Nice article but you can see that bringing such type of effects in the images can never be done by one or two effects. you have to combine many effects in one only then there will be a unique image with amazing effect.

    Thanks for the amazing post.

  17. Nice tutorial. One thing I miss in DT is the ability to make specific changes in skin tones, like the ones to remove “blotchness” or Redness on specific areas (nose and checks). Like the Hue-Saturation adjustment layer in PS

  18. Nice color effects and contrasts

  19. Alexandre, very useful tutorial. Thanks! Looking forward to more. Cheers!

  20. Thanks for share Alexandre…really nice tutorial..

  21. Nice Tutorials. Thanks Alex :D

  22. I am owning Nikon D3200 well I took few images with it but I would difinately try this thing out

  23. Thank you for your post, its very help and nice tutorial!

  24. i was facing difficult problem on removing golden skin tones from my captured images but after reading your post i am able to do that. this is very easy to understand.

  25. Hello,
    I was facing difficult problem on removing golden skin tones from my captured images but after reading your post.Cool progra! Gonna have to try it for my hair color to get washed out.I agree with your post. Thanks for sharing your post.

  26. Hello ALEXANDRE,
    Thanks for solving my problem about golden skin tones for many of my images. I was having the problem but this article helped me a lot. Thanks a lot for sharing this amazing post. Love this post :)