Jun
20

Retouch using frequency separation

by
Rebecca Greig

Learn how to use this professional portrait enhancing technique for smoother skin without loss of detail

Retouch using frequency separation

One of the biggest challenges a portrait retoucher will face is how to retouch blotchy skin without losing important texture and pore detail. One solution to this lies within frequency separation, which is a way of splitting skin into two independent layers in Photoshop: texture and tone. Applying tools such as the Clone Stamp to retouch spots can be performed on the texture layer, and smoothing tones or reducing redness can be applied to a different layer. In the following steps you will learn how to prepare your Layers in Photoshop for frequency separation, and then use filters and tools to create a perfectly retouched portrait.

Retouch using frequency separation

1 Duplicate layers Duplicate the background twice by hitting Cmd/Ctrl+J twice. This gives us two layers to work with non-destructively for frequency separation. Hide the topmost layer: Layer 1 copy.

Retouch using frequency separation

2 Set Gaussian Blur On Layer 1 (currently visible), go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Apply an amount of blurring that hides the blotchiness of the skin. Around 5-9px is usually about right. Hit OK to apply.

Retouch using frequency separation

3 Apply Image Reveal the topmost layer and make it active. Then go to Image>Apply Image. Set the Layer drop-down list to the blurred layer below Layer 1. Set Blending to Subtract, Scale to 2 and Offset to 128.

Retouch using frequency separation

4 Change blending Set the blend mode of Layer 1 copy to Linear Light. Notice how the image has reverted back to its original state. Photoshop separated skin texture (top layer) from tone and colour (layer underneath).

Retouch using frequency separation

5  Lasso selection Zoom into the face and locate the Lasso Tool (L). Set Feather to 25px in the Options bar. Make a selection around an area of skin. Press Q to toggle the Quick Mask view to preview the selected area.

Retouch using frequency separation

6  Soften skin Be sure to have Layer 1 selected. With the Lasso active, go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Decrease Radius to 0 and increase it gradually until the blotchiness on the skin is reduced. 18px works well.

Retouch using frequency separation

7 Complete face Repeat the process of making selections over areas of the face. Apply the Gaussian Blur filter each time (Cmd/Ctrl+F to apply previous filter settings). The texture remains intact but the skin softens.

Retouch using frequency separation

8  Retouch texture  Select the topmost layer that contains the texture. Use a low opacity Clone Stamp Tool (S) to retouch any spots that lie within the texture. Be sure to have only Current Layer selected in the Options bar.

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