Frequency Separation Photoshop Tutorial (Nondestructive & Fully Editable Layers)

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Hello and welcome to this episode of Denny’s tips. Today you’ll learn how to retouch skin with a technique called frequency separation. It is the most popular way to recharge skin and it does a lot for very little effort. In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to apply frequency separation with a fully editable and non-destructive layer set up. This will let you readjust the settings or even make changes to the original layer without having to redo every single step. So if you’re interested, keep watching and you learn how to do frequency separation non-destructively. Frequency separation is a technique to give skin and airbrushed look.

It does so by splitting your photo into two layers – a high and low frequency layer. A high-frequency radio it looks like this and it’s made with a high pass filter, a host the sharp details to your photo a low-frequency layer looks like this and it holds the tones and colors of your photo when combined these two layers form a normal-looking image by adjusting the balance of these two layers, you can choose how much softening to apply in the low-pass layer and how much detail to restore in the high-pass layer to clear out some miss. Frequency separation is not going to do all the re-touching for you it’s not going to remove blemishes it’s not going to mattify skin, remove redness, thick skin discoloration etc.

It’s just a single technique to quickly enhance the skin textures and tones. It doesn’t take a lot of time to do and when done properly, it can look very natural. For this tutorial instead of using a photo of someone who already looks great and was photographed in soft lighting, I’ll be using this image which isn’t the most flattering way to photograph someone so you can see the limitations of this frequency separation effect. Before we start, if you’re just looking for something to do this for you, you can visit the link in the video description below to download by skin retouching actions. The free version has an action to generate the layers that you need to do frequency separation and you’re done with the same layer set up and non-destructive techniques as this tutorial. But whether you use the actions, I still recommend following this tutorial so you can understand how it works and how you can find to it in the settings for better results.

For the layer set up we need to create two layers: one for high frequency filter and one for the low frequencies filter. Start by right-clicking on the background layer and choosing convert to smart object. It’s very important that your layer is a smart object because you’re likely not going to get the perfect settings the first time. It will take some back-and-forth adjustments to get the best results and by using Smart Objects, you can always go back and edit the settings later. There’s also another benefit to using this, I’ll tell you what it is later.

Press ctrl or command J twice to duplicate the smart object. You should now have three layers rename the top layer to high-frequency and the second layer to low-frequency. Let’s start with the high-frequency layer. Select the high-frequency layer and then go to filter – other – high pass. This filter is used to create a gray layer with an embossed effect of the fine details set the radius to 3 then click ok. It’s pointless to fine-tune the settings now because you came and see what it’s doing. We’ll readjust the settings later. Change the blend mode to linear light once it’s changed, your image will look incredibly sharp. This layer helps restore the fine details in your photo. Now let’s work on the low-frequency layer. In Photoshop, the low-pass filter is called Gaussian blur filter. Traditionally, the low-frequency layer was made with this order but it tends to create a diffuse effect that doesn’t look very natural. I recommend using the surface blur filter instead, which will preserve some of the edge details.

To do this, go to “Filter” -> “Blur” -> “Surface Blur” play around these settings to get a soft skin look. I like to start off by maxing out the threshold and picking a radius setting that will smooth the skin out without losing the contours. Then reduce the threshold to bring back some of the details. Don’t worry too much about the settings, you typically will have to go back and forth for the settings to get something that looks great.

Click OK when you’re done and now have an airbrush look. By the way, if the filter is taking a long time to process it’s probably because you’re in 16 or 32-bit mode. You can wait for it to finish or if you’re just doing this for learning purposes, you can convert your image into 8-bit mode by going to image – mode – eight bits per channel. Right now, the effect is very strong and overprocessed. Reduce the opacity of the high-frequency layer until you get something that looks more natural. You can also double-click on the high-pass filter. To change settings depending on the resolution and how much skin detail is in your photo. You might need to increase or decrease the setting. You can also double-click on the surface blur filter to fine-tune the settings. currently the frequency separation is affecting the entire image. So we can fix this with a layer mask, select a high and low frequency separation layer and press ctrl or command key to add them to a group, select the group and the hold the Alt or option key and click on the add layer mask button in your layers panel.

Holding the alt or option key will create an inverted layer mask select the brush tool and then paint over the skin where you would like the airbrushing to occur. Make sure your foreground color is set to white and adjust the brush opacity setting in the options bar. I like to start off with around seventy-five percent so it doesn’t apply the full effect, if there are certain spots where you want the frequency separation to be more visible you can just paint over area multiple times. Here’s how the image looks like before and after remember earlier when I told you that there was another benefit to using Smart Objects let’s say that you want to use a healing brush to remove something, typically people would create a new layer.

Set the healing brush to sample all layers and just heal a spot but the problem with this is that the layers aren’t synchronizing with each other. So, if you make a significant change, your frequency separation layers you have to do a healing brush layer again. But because we use Smart Objects, we have the option of doing this in a better way. Simply double-click on the thumbnail of the smart object. Now you can make any edits you like. I’m going to do the same thing and create a new layer to clone a spot like this. I’m also gonna go further like running up mattifying action on it and reducing the redness.

The image now has been drastically changed, I want to save and close this document and as you can see now all of the layers have been updated and we don’t have to redo anything. Using smart objects like this is a great way to future-proof your work. It only takes a second to convert your layer into a smart object but it can save you a lot of time.

Before we end this video, I want to talk well, over processing because it’s such a common thing for this technique. It happens when you’re trying to use as much frequency separation as you can. Unless you’re going for a surreal glamour look you should be using as little as necessary so that the effect is still there but it’s not immediately noticeable. Now in this video, it’s a bit too strong, but I did it so it’s easier for you to see the difference. A good way to practice frequency separation is you do it on a male model, because if you apply too much of it will look weird right away Hey, thanks for watching this video! I haven’t checked my stats for a while but just realize that we’re getting closer to 2,000 subscribers. So I wanna thank you guys so much for that. I really appreciate it. By the way, this video was made as a request and I love how my videos are based on request. So if you have any suggestions you’re definitely welcome to let me know in the comments or by messaging me.

And if it’s something that I can do, I’ll definitely try to help. Anyways I hope you guys have an awesome day let me know what you think in the comments and I’ll see again next week!.

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