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Frequency Separation for Portraits

Lesson 3 of 7

Basic Recipe Of Frequency Separation

Lisa Carney

Frequency Separation for Portraits

Lisa Carney

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Lesson Info

3. Basic Recipe Of Frequency Separation

Lesson Info

Basic Recipe Of Frequency Separation

Again I really wanna stress the basic recipe I'm showing it to you here two different formats so you can see it. The first layer's gonna be blur, probably five to seven pixels, Gaussian blur, the second is gonna be apply image, and it's gonna be the layer blur selected and the numbers. Alright, so let's go ahead and start. Oh look at me, I was so young back then, it was sadly really not that long ago, but that's another conversation. Alright, so here I am, happy to be here, I said make two copies, right? Cmd + J, Cmd + J, or Ctrl + J if you're a PC person, and always, please always, always, always, name your layers. Blur, capital, lowercase, it doesn't matter, but please name your layers, and the top one gray, gray. Now with frequency separation, we talked about the workflow, I said do not give these files to people if they don't know frequency separation. So what I suggest is you hold the shift key down and you grab these two layers and you put it in a folder and you label it. I can't...

spell very often, so I'm gonna just go ahead and put FS, and that's my shortcut for frequency separation, and then you don't have to look at my bad spelling. Okay. You guys can call it whatever you want, just label it please. The other reason I do this is for organization, because as I said, I do 80% of my retouching, you can imagine, there's gonna be some layers in here, and this way it's all condensed in a file and it's manageable. Please note I'm retouching on a flat layer, we're not gonna deal with any kind of masking, anything in this class, this is just retouching. Okay, alright. So as I said, the first part of the treatment is gonna be blur, so I'm gonna turn off the gray layer, I'm gonna go to the blur layer, and I'll blur it. Pretty handy dandy, and I'm gonna blur it whatever number I deem appropriate. Now as I said, I normally use seven, but this file is actually lower res, it's 21, so I think I might just go ahead and do five on this one. It doesn't matter, you're just starting the process, we can change the temperature, as I like to say, as we go along. Now if you're working in a job flow with other people, or if you're working on so many jobs you can't keep track, a good habit is to put the blur number on the layer. Okay, it's a really good working practice. Now we go into the gray layer, please make sure you are on the gray layer, like literally click on the name, and you're gonna go image, apply, and it's gonna default to this, so don't freak out. It's gonna default to merge and multiply. You're gonna select blur as your layer, your source layer, and then you're gonna go down here to multiply to subtract. Okay, and you're gonna type in two and 128. Once you've done this once, it'll always pop up this way, which is so nice, 'cause I can tell you this, first six months, I had it on a piece of tape on my computer what the code was, I couldn't remember. Was it one? 135, wait, no was it two? I forgot those numbers, now it's ingrained in my head. Now what it has basically done is dumped, using the blur layer, it's dumped all the color information and left you just with details. So now what we have sitting here is my blurry, lovely face, and my detail on a separate layer. What you then need to do is take that gray layer, very important, and put it on linear light. This is the number one area people are gonna screw up. Actually I take that back, the apply image menu, first screw up, second screw up will be on linear light. So don't think you're wrong if you screw up here, this is where everyone makes a mistake, so this is where you go slowly. Take your hands off the computer and look, where am I? Now, so turn the eyeball on and off, I can see nothing. You've done it right. If the image is exactly the same, nothing jumps, then you will see nothing. Where you might see something is if you've done too big of a blur, you start getting a halo. So if I did, in fact just for giggles, why don't we do that. I'm gonna do the double double, I'm gonna blur this 20, and I'm gonna do gray. Go back to the blur, Gaussian blur 20, Gray. By the way, as I said, I use this on 80% of my retouching, I use this on product retouching, frequency separation on product is beautiful, it's fantastic, gotta watch the halos on product. That's the big achtung there. Alright, do you see how kind of HDR this looks now? You're gonna get a little, I'm gonna put it in a folder, you might not see it so clearly on the screen here, but there's a tiny bit of haloing going on. It's subtle, but it's there. On product, you will definitely see a halo if you've gone too far. So put that in your notes somewhere. So not scary, and then well, what's the point, what are we doing? Well the point is now we can retouch, so I'm gonna clone here on the top layer. So when you do your retouching, the thing you wanna be careful of is you wanna make sure that your tools are set to, as I like to say, zero. And what I mean by that is, if you're gonna use the clone tool, make sure it is on current layer only, not current and below. And then I can go in and retouch quickly, I don't give a darn what the color, oh I got a mole on top of my head, look at that, I don't care about the color underneath, I am effectively retouching the texture. Now, it's not 1000% true, there is a little color in here, can you guys see it? There is a wee bit of color, but nothing to worry about. So now what that gives me is the blur layer. Now on the blur layer, I can say, wow it's really, I got some age spots goin' on here, this isn't too great. I can select the gradient tool, for example, select that color in my forehead, let me zoom out just a hair, and I can start painting. What's my tool set at? My tool is set at 30% opacity, I can make it 100% opacity, and I can really quickly , oh geez, start filling in some color and give volume. Basic recipe, okay, this is basic. So what are we doing here? We have a base image, some color, and we have texture. Jesus, look at that, too much sun. Some texture. So it allows me to separate the two things and work on them separately. Yes you had a question darling. Sorry, just the last step you were doing with the painting, you went a little quickly and I missed what you were using and how you were doing it. Okay, cool. Can you just briefly repeat that? I will absolutely repeat that, and the beautiful thing is, in all honesty, how you paint doesn't matter. So you can paint with the paintbrush, you could smudge, and we're gonna go over those few things right now. So I happen to have done it right there was I used a gradient tool, and the gradient tool on radial, and I just option clicked to pick a source color, and then I'm clicking and dragging. Now my brush is at 100%, pardon me, the gradient tool's at 100%, I might wanna do it at 50%. And I'm just very quickly going through and starting to clean up. That's all it is, it's, honest to Buddha, it is the easiest thing, it's nothin'. We're gonna get controlled in a minute. This is just to give you the basic recipe, but things like age spots and freckles and whatnot, start gettin' rid of it. Now, I'm gonna put that opacity back up. Do you guys know that when you're on the gradient tool or the paint tool, if you hit any of the keyboard settings, if you look right up here to this section, it will change the opacity. So I rarely go up to the menu bar. I need to get some sleep as you can clearly see here. The other thing, when you're painting, what you wanna do is constantly, do you see that, I'm sorry, the bar on the bottom, I don't know what you call that, where the tool shows up, do you see it? I'm constantly selecting color, every couple minutes, that's another key thing when you're retouching, you don't wanna pick the same color or it's gonna look really modelly. Cool? Alright. So again, I'm just giving you basic, basic recipe, we're gonna get to the next part, which is really the fun stuff. It is really important for me that you understand this lone thing. You copy the image, the base image, twice, you blur the base, and you do the image subtract, image apply subtract to get the formula. Okay, that's, as long as you know that, put it in a folder, then when you're retouching, what you're gonna be doing is you're gonna be painting, blurring, smudging, on the bottom, kinda amorphic like this, and you're gonna be cloning, healing and whatnot on the gray.

Class Description

Lisa Carney will go over the basic formula, demystifying the process so that you can incorporate Frequency Separation into most of your portrait and retouching jobs. She'll show how to incorporate filters, paint and blend modes to really make your portraits sing. Learn how to utilize this powerful technique for more of your heavy lifting retouching needs.

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Sample File for Practice

Frequency Separation Basic Build (.psd file)

Frequency Separation Workbook

Frequency Separation Actions

Bonus Materials

Frequency Separation Before and After

Adobe Stock Contributor

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



Magic Lisa is the best teacher. She makes learning Photoshop fun. Great course. Lisa has a great teaching style. She mixes in a great speech cadence, great voice up and down and pausing, jokes, and is extremely knowledgeable and fun to watch. Awesome course.

a Creativelive Student

I thought this course was absolutely excellent; Lisa's style of teaching worked perfectly for me. I loved how she related what she was doing to how a professional might incorporate the methods into their workflow with clients (and without, when they're doing it for themselves only, such as a photographer). She mentioned at the top of the course that this is an advanced workshop, so she wasn't going to be detailing all of the shortcuts, assuming that those who are taking this course either (a) know them already or (b) are savvy enough to look up the basics via the help topics in PS. (Super easy to do.) Lisa demystified the process for me, made it very approachable and doable, and I had fun listening to her. Would highly recommend.

Sonya Messier

This technic is awesome. I do not do portrait, but I use it to clean pave roads and trucks. It save me a lot of time and I can be so much more creative. Lisa is wonderful and I love her teaching. Congratulations Lisa, good job!