Screen Printing - October/November 2017 - 24
FLESH TONES -
Transforming skin hues into printable graphics
is a nightmare designers might shy away from,
but with patience and the right preparation, it
doesn't have to be.
eparating graphics with flesh tones can be a
scary proposition. Flesh is what's known as a reference (or memory) color; textures like skin, wood, metal,
grass, water, and sky are difficult to
replicate because most people have
seen them thousands of times and can
quickly detect if the colors are off. The
more reference colors a design has, the
harder it will be to print.
And flesh tones are perhaps the worst of
the reference colors. The way that flesh reflects
light can vary incredibly, depending on hundreds of
different factors, yet viewers can still easily detect if an
overall color cast on flesh is wrong. If flesh is too green or
yellow, it may look sick or decayed; if it's too red, it may look
like the person is overheated or has high blood pressure.
The way to take the fear out of flesh tone separation is to
prepare: Analyzing and color-correcting the image before separating the graphic will prevent a major headache later. The next
step is to strategically separate the design in consideration of
the depth of color and values in the flesh.
Because separating images with flesh tones can vary so
much from one design to another, it's useful to minimize
the variety of colors that are interacting in the design. Some
designs with flesh tones may appear fairly flat in color, while
other images have a large shift in value, hue, and shadows
depending on the lighting in the source images (see Figure 1).
It's critical to review the quality of the image prior to prepping it. There are several things to look at before beginning
any color separation, and these are particularly important
when dealing with flesh tones; any image quality problems
will become magnified as the image is split into different
colors. The last thing you want is to separate an image with
a face in it and find out when it hits the press that there are a
bunch of red dots in your skin tones.