Many folks tend to neglect the fact that the skill set of seasoned colorists extends way beyond the manipulation of colors. Making subtle aesthetic changes such as improving talents’ skin tones and removing blemishes, for instance, are just as essential.
Even though the smoothening of your actors’ skin in post may seem relatively simple, the amount of work put into the process can make a huge difference in the end. Theo of MeisnerMedia is here with another comprehensive tutorial that unveils a few useful techniques regarding skin softening inside of DaVinci Resolve 14.
Before proceeding with the tutorial, it’s important to note that you should have performed your primary grade before tackling skin tones. If there’s a particular style or look that you want to apply to your footage, make your adjustments in advance since this step will help you immensely later on when manipulating skin tones.
Once your primary grade is set, you can now begin the skin smoothening process. First, create a new node and use the qualifier to isolate the actor’s skin tones. To do so, click on the eyedropper tool as shown in the video and then select the skin area in the frame. Afterward, adjust the hue, saturation, and luminance so that you can set apart your actor’s skin as precisely as possible.
Next, increase the blur radius to soften the skin details a bit. Be careful, though; you don’t want to go too overboard here. You just need to blur enough so that the harshness and possible over-sharpening from the camera are removed, but the overall image should remain sharp enough.
After that, adjust the contrast, pivot, and saturation to your liking. Regarding contrast, you might want to increase the value slightly so that details on the skin pop out a little bit more. As for the pivot, that will help improve the lightness of the skin. Saturation, on the other hand, will determine how the skin color pops, which you may want to turn down depending on the overall color theme of your shot.
In the meantime, if there are any minor imperfections that you spot on your actor’s face, you can easily remedy this by increasing the Midpoint Detail. Although the effect is less prominent, it can actually go a long way in making your actors skin seem smoother.
Another issue you might come across due to the increased blur radius is losing some skin details. This next step will explain how to bring those back while minimising imperfections. First off, create a new node and invert the key. After that, head over to the Key tab and in the Key Input section, select the icon with the white dot in the circle of a box.
Next, cascade that node so that it is split into three separate nodes. Make sure to bring the alpha output to the three new nodes by clicking on the blue dot of the second node and drag it to each of the separate nodes. In the group of three nodes, take the top one, then copy and paste its properties to the other two nodes below it.
Finally, disable the top two nodes and reset the Midtone Detailsof the bottom node. Adjust the Blur Radius by decreasing the values to bring back the details. Also, be careful with how drastic your adjustments are. As a rule, the skin should remain naturally detailed, but not over sharpened.
The last step in creating smooth skin tones inside Resolve 14 is using the built-in sharpening effect which you can find in the OpenFX panel. Simply adjust the Detail Level settings to your liking and remember that your adjustment values do not have to be too high. The subtle sharpness adjustments are really sensitive, so do treat them with some extra caution.