Skin retouching with frequency separation

So, last time I did a quite basic skin retouching tutorial with the Spot Healing Brush and the Patch tool. That’s mostly for when your model has only very slight blemishes, you can check it out here if you missed it Quick skin retouching !

Now I’m going to show you the Frequency Separation technique. This will be very useful if you want to smooth out uneven skin tone and blemishes without compromising on pore texture. It’s a bit more advanced but once you get the hang of it, it will save so much time.

Also this technique won’t compromise on image quality as we will be only working in layers.

First you start off with your image in 16 bit mode.


Next you need to make 2 copies of your image and name one high frequency and low frequency (or whatever helps you remember really, I went with just high and low).


Next select your “low” layer and apply a Gaussian blur (Filters – Blur – Gaussian blur). The radius is up to you to experiment with really, but just as a guide it should be just up to the point where fine hairs and eyelashes are blurred. Too much, or too little won’t give such a good end result.


Moving on to the “high” layer, select it and go to Image – Apply Image.

Now in this dialogue box in the Layer box you need to select your low frequency layer and set your Blending to subtract. Also have your Scale set to 2 and Offset to 128. This will separate your high from low frequencies.


After you’ve hit OK change the blending mode of your “high” layer to Linear Light and you should end up with your original image but with your frequencies separated.


Now, still in your “high” layer, use your spot healing brush to remove any spots or blemishes. This technique also allows the Spot Healing Brush to work much better, without leaving odd colour spots.


Ok so after you’ve done that, go into your “low” layer and select your Lasso Tool.


Select an area that you want to smooth out and apply a Gaussian Blur.


Again, the radius is up to you how high you want it so just experiment a bit until you have what you need!


Then do the same for every other part you need to smooth out and Voila! You will be left with a lovely skin tone and loads of pores!



I have over edited here just to emphasize what the tool does, you can also turn down the opacity of the “low” layer if you feel like you’ve overdone it.

Here's a before and after to compare


That’s all folks! Just experiment as much as you can to get the hang of this and let me know if you have any questions!

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