This is part two of Retouching skin in Photoshop. In our previous post, I discussed about “Touch-Up Layer Technique”. Today I will discuss about “Frequency Separation Technique”
When more is needed to achieve beautiful skin, Frequency Separation is an option. The steps to create the working layers are technical, but the reward is an ability to do touch-ups without harming or losing skin texture.
Frequency separation works well for tiny blemishes, blotchy skin, red patches, wrinkles of all types, dry and flaky skin, and oily patches. This technique does miracles with under-eye circles and is also ideal for smoothing out makeup that has caked or has not blended well.
There are plenty of tutorials about how to retouching skin in Photoshop. But I guarantee you that there is no better method than Frequency Separation in Photoshop for smoothing blemishes and evening-out skin tones.
How does it work? You’re essentially separating the detail from the color and putting them each into their own layer. That way you can adjust either quality without affecting the other. Let’s start….
Also you may check out my previous post about 3 Techniques for Retouching Skin In Photoshop (Part-1)
Step – 1
First set the stage. This work best in 16-bit mode, but it’s functional in 8-bit mode for web.
Step – 2
The first thing to do after opening your image is to duplicate the original Background layer twice by clicking Ctrl+J twice. Just to make things easier, name the top layer “High Frequency” and the layer below that “Low Frequency”.
Step – 3
With the low frequency layer selected in the Layers Window and the High Frequency layer made invisible by clicking the eye icon, go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur.
The settings will be different depending on the size of your image, but the main idea is to smooth details such as wrinkles, eyelashes or hair to a point that they are gradients of color. See the eye in the Gaussian Blur editing window below for the approximate effect.
Step – 4
As in the image below, click on the High Frequency Layer. Go to Image>Apply Image. In the resulting dialog box, select Low Frequency in the Layer drop-down menu.
In the Blending drop-down menu select “Subtract”. Make sure the Scale is set to “2” and the Offset is set to “128” then Click OK.
Step – 5
With the High Frequency layer still selected, Go to the Blending Mode and select Linear Light. It will look like nothing ever happened to the image. But you have just set the stage for the good stuff.
What you just did was separate the detail (high frequency) from the color (low frequency). Now we can edit each one without disturbing the other.
Step – 6
Now its time for Smoothing Blemishes in the High Frequency Layer. From this point on, you will want to work at 100% magnification to make sure the edits are good. The following techniques do require a little skill to do well, but it only takes a little practice and you should have it down in no time.
Select the “High Frequency” layer. It’s very important to set the “Sample:” field in the Tools’ Option Bar at the top of the open window to “Current”. Remove unwanted sharp detail like blackheads and rough skin texture, or use this layer to seamlessly clone detail back into burned out areas, using the Clone Stamp Tool set to 100% Opacity and Flow.
Step – 7
If you are trying to lighten or darken a particular area, the Dodge or Burn Tools are best on the Low Frequency Layer. Select the “Low Frequency” layer then brush over wrinkles and blotches with the Healing Brush tool, or the Clone Stamp tool. Make sure to set the “Sample:”
field in the Tools’ Option Bar at the top of the open window to “Current & Below” so as to not select any pixel information from the top layer.
That’s all. Now we have the final image. The time needed for each image depends on the condition of your subject’s skin. Nearly anyone could benefit to some degree from this method. Hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. Stay updated with our new articles.