One of the best things I learned last year was how to do a high-frequency separation layer to edit skin. Truth be told, I never took the time to properly learn skin retouching. I was well versed in clone stamp & spot-healing, and I thought that was enough to get me by. But when I started taking on more commercial work, I quickly learned that my ghetto way of editing skin wasn't going to cut it. If you're serious about being a photographer, this is quintessentially the most important tool to have in your back pocket when it comes to skin retouching. It really is a game changer, so today I'm sharing this technique with you guys in 4 easy steps. Learn it, use it.
High-Frequency Separation Layer
This is the only way to remove blemishes while retaining the texture.
4 Easy Steps to do a High-Frequency Separation Layer
Step 1. Duplicate (cmd+J) your Background layer twice. Rename the top layer "high frequency" and the bottom "low frequency." Then group the two layers (select the two layers & cmd+g)
Step 2. With the Low Frequency layer selected, Filter>Gaussian Blur filter and choose a pixel radius with which all the fine details will be blurred. I have mine set at 3.7 but there are some photographers who will set it to 5 so this is just up to your preference in terms of how much detail you want. I personally prefer a lower blur.
Step 3. Now select the High Frequency layer and go Image > Apply Image and use these settings:
Layer: Select “Low Frequency”
Blending to “Subtract”
Step 4. Now change the Blending Mode of the "High Frequency layer" to Linear Light.
& now you're ready to use the clone stamp & spot-healing brush on the "low frequency" layer for your skin problems. I have this recorded as an action so I don't have to do these 4 steps every single time.
Watch the video below to see how I use the high frequency separation layer to edit this image!
Let me know your thoughts or questions in the comments below!