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Photoshop Tutorial: How to Retouch Skin Flawlessly with Frequency Separation

Hi. This is Marty from Blue Lightning TV. I’m going to show you how an effective technique for retouching skin that retains the skin’s texture, while it removes skin blotches and imperfections. This technique is called, “Frequency Separation”. Before we begin, if you enjoy my tutorials, show your support by becoming a patron to Blue Lightning TV. Go to (all one word) or simply click the link in this video’s description, which is below the title of this video. Thanks! Open a photo of a face that you’d like to retouch. I downloaded this one from Shutterstock. The first step is to make 2 copies of the photo by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + J twice.

Name the top layer, “High Frequency_Texture” and the middle layer, “Low Frequency_Blur”. Click off the eyeball icon next to the top layer to temporarily hide it and go to Filter, Blur and Gaussian Blur. Drag the slider until it blurs the skin just enough to hide most of the pores and blotchiness. Then, click OK. Make the top layer visible and active. Go to Image and “Apply Image”. For the Source layer, click “Low Frequency_Blur” and for the Target Blending Mode, click “Subtract”.

The Scale is 2 and Offset is 128. Then, click OK. Change the Blend Mode to “Linear Light”. At this point, your photo will look exactly the same. Make the middle layer active. Zoom into areas of the face by pressing “z” to open your Zoom Tool and drag it over the forehead. Open your Lasso Tool and draw a selection over the inside of the forehead. We’ll feather it, so its edges will be soft. For me, the best way to preview the amount of feathering is to click the Refine Edge button or go to Select and Refine Edge. Drag the Feather slider to the right until it’s blurred approximately this much. The actual pixel amount on yours, may be very different than mine depending on your photo’s size and resolution.

Remember your pixel amount and click “Cancel”. At the top, in the Feather field, type in that amount. Deselect it by pressing Ctrl or Cmd + D. To apply the feathering, draw another selection inside the forehead.and go to Filter, Blur and Gaussian Blur. Slide the Blur Radius to an amount that makes the blotchiness disappear. The texture remains because it’s on a different layer. Click OK and deselect it. If you see some imperfections in the texture, we’ll take care of them in a few minutes. Right now, we’re just concerned with removing the blotchiness and overall inconsistencies. To reposition the face on your canvas, press and hold the Space bar as you drag the image. Draw another selection around the cheek and make sure you don’t get too close to the eyes, hair, lips and neck. Press Ctrl or Cmd + F to repeat the last filter you used, which was Gaussian Blur.

Delete the selection and draw another selection around the other cheek. Repeat the filter and deselect it. I’ll repeat these steps for the chin. Next, let’s retouch the nose. Since the nose has more problems with texture than blotchiness, we’ll retouch its texture. To do this, make the High Frequency texture layer active and this time, we’ll use the Clone Stamp Tool. Make sure the Mode is Normal, the Flow is 100% and “Current Layer” is showing. Make its Opacity approximately 35 to 40%. To make your stamp tool bigger or smaller, press the right or left bracket key on your keyboard.

We’ll copy the texture of a smooth area of the skin and clone it onto the nose. To do this, Alt-click or Option-click on a smooth area of skin to copy its texture and brush over a small area of the nose to clone the texture onto it. Go back to the same smooth area, Alt-click or Option click on it and brush over another small area of the nose. Continue this until the entire nose is smooth. Remember, we’re not cloning color, nor brightness & contrast; we’re only cloning texture. Let’s retouch the neck of your subject. Drag the neck into view. Since the neck has problems mostly with skin blotchiness, I’ll make the Low Frequency Blur layer active and open my Lasso Tool again.

I’ll draw inside the neck and shoulder blades avoiding getting too close to her clothing, chin and hair. I’ll repeat my last filter, which was Gaussian Blur, and I’ll deselect it. To fit your image back onto your canvas, press Ctrl or Cmd + 0. To see the before and after, Alt-click or Option-click on the eyeball icon next to the bottom layer to hide all the other layers. To make all the other layers visible again, Alt-click or Option on the eyeball icon again. If you want to finesse it more by removing tiny spots of texture imperfections, zoom into the area you want to finesse by pressing Ctrl or Cmd plus the “Plus” key on your keyboard and drag your subject to the area you want to finesse. Make your High Frequency texture layer active again. This time, we’ll open the “Spot Healing Brush”. Make your brush a bit larger than the spot your want to remove and simply click or brush over the spot. Continue to click or brush over other tiny, texture imperfections until the entire face is flawless.

As found on Youtube

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