Skin Retouching In Larger Areas

Hello and welcome back to our series on portrait editing.  Today we will be looking at dealing with larger areas of skin issues such as chapped or dry lips, lumpy make up and texture issues in the skin itself.  For this we will be using a technique called Frequency Separation.


Frequency Separation is a 2 layer process that deals with tonality and texture.  As mentioned in my introductory post to this series, there are many factors that affect both tonality and texture.  What we don’t want to do is affect the texture of the skin when we rectify tones, nor do we just want to run a Gausian Blur layer to make skin look smoother as this will affect areas with very fine texture, making it look flat.  But we often have to tone things down on our texture layer.


Before I start – This is a good time to start naming layers and creating groups.  I have renamed the layer where I used the spot healing brush to “Spot Removal”.


Duplicate this layer twice by holding down the Ctrl/Cmd J keys.  Rename the bottom of these 2 copied layers Low and the top layer High.  If you’re familiar with creating actions, this is also a good time to create an action for this step.  Making sure your Low layer is active go to Filter>Blur>Gausian Blur and enter a value that can be divided by 3.  For this image I entered a value of 21, but this amount will depend on the size of your photo and the size of the area you will be working on.  My areas that I will betargeting are all in the same size range and I can therefore use the same Low layer.



Target your High layer and go to Image>Apply Image and enter the following values for a 16-bit image.  Layer : Low – Invert : Checked – Blending : Add – Scale : 2 and Offset : 0 and click OK.  If you’re working with an 8-bit image (a .jpeg file) the following values apply.  Layer : Low – Invert : Unchecked – Blending : Subtract – Scale : 2 and Offset : 128.



You will then get a layer that is mostly filled with 50% grey.



Change the Blend Mode of this layer to Linear light.



With the Lasso Tool and a Feather of 5 pixels, draw a selection around the area you want to tone down.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but ensure that you get the entire area in your selection.



Hold down the Ctrl/Cmd J keys to create a new copy layer of the selection.  Don’t worry that it now looks even worse.



Go to Filter>Blur>Gausian Blur and enter the value of your Low layer value divided by 3.  My Low layer value was 21 so I entered a value of 7.  Hold down Ctrl/Cmd I to invert the selection and voila you now have smoother skin that still has texture.



Keep going back to the High layer, making selections of troublesome areas and repeating the above steps.



Do the same for chapped lips, but add a layer mask and brush the effect out on teeth or skin if you have color bleed from lipstick.



Group all these layers into a folder named Skin Correction.


I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and I will see you next week when we deal with tonal issues.




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