Frequency Separation for Portraits


Lesson Info

How to Sharpen Eyes

So let's talk about a couple other things you can do that're pretty cool. I'm going to sharpen the eyes. Ooo, let's sharpen the eyes! And what I'm gonna do, is I'm going to take the Marquis selection tool, and I'm gonna go back down to my gray retouch layer. I'm gonna hit command + J. It's gonna make a little copy. Right over the eyes. You gotta link it. Please clip it, not link, excuse me, clip. Do you know in the old days that was called grouping? Back in the ancient days? They don't call it that anymore. But anyway it used to be, before layer sets, it was called grouping. Little trivia for ya. Alright, instead of Layer One, Let's call it Eyes Sharpen. As a general rule, I like to work as a pyramid. So I tend to put the little stuff on top and the bigger stuff on the bottom. So that's a pretty little thing to do, so I'm gonna move that all the way up to the top. And here's where we're gonna do something that's counterintuitive. We're gonna go back to Linear Dodge-- Linear Light, pard...

on me, and put it on Linear Light. Well Sweet Jesus, Mary Mother of God, what has happened to my skin? We're not gonna worry about that. We are gonna just paint that in on the eyes. Ooo. Ahhh. See? Now I'm gonna tell you that's a little crackers, too. Not a problem, not a problem. TV advertising they kinda like that overkill thing, so I just move that down to 48%. You can either-- here's the thing, the other thing, I painted that in at 100% opacity, and then I moved the layer down. You can paint it in at a lighter opacity, but you might get modeling. If you paint with 100% opacity, and change the layer opacity, there's no modeling. Is that cool? Awesome. Another fun trick to do is a blank-- spelled correctly or not, I don't care-- 50% gray layer. And it's exactly what it says it is, It's a blank 50% gray layer. Now this is really important, pay attention, hit rewind, do what you need to do. When we had that color, and then we did the subtract, it made a 50% gray layer. I'm gonna pull this out, just so we can have this conversation, 'cause it's very important for me that you understand the science of what's going on. Alright, lemme do it a different way, excuse me. I'm gonna put this in a New Document, new document, just so we can have this conversation. The gray layer is basically a 50% gray document layer that has highlight and shadow detail and a tiny bit of color in the highlight in the shadow. The rest of the information is gone. So what that means is the color of 50% gray disappears completely. So if that's true--it's clearly true, because it's what I'm showing you, if you put a 50% gray layer on your frequency separation, you have basically obliterated all the information. You're at zero. All you're seeing is the blur layer. So then what you do is you put a black mask, Excuse me, be on the right layer. 50% gray layer, put a black mask on it, and then what you can do with a gentle brush, this is probably one of the few times I will use a low opacity brush... My computer's a little mad at me. Come on, baby. We want the under-eyes. Alright. Is you can start painting in, very gently, and what you're doing is removing the texture. So now I can go back and do the color. Let's make a new under-eyes. And between the two of these, I'm gonna get these bags outta here. By hook or crook. So why am I doing this? Because, especially under the eye, there's kinda no good place to get that skin from. Do you know the skin here's a little different than the skin here? So if I clone the texture of my cheeks under my eyes I'd look like a lizard. It would not be pretty. I've tried. You don't wanna do that. So do you see how it's kinda getting there step by step, inch by inch? Hopefully I haven't scared you guys off. You doin' alright? Excellent. No questions? [Male Audience Member] I do. Excellent. Bring it! Bring it, baby. And you do wanna keep some of the lines under the eye for realism, right? Absolutely. Because if you make them go away then it looks weird. Absolutely. Alright. Yeah. And why do it this way is because it's flexible. So here's the thing, also, we haven't talked about this, but there's that whole viewing thing. Like how are you looking at this? Who's looking at it? Is this--I'm on my tiny little screen, and then I print out a poster, and what looked good on the screen doesn't look good on the poster. This way it's completely flexible. However it's not flexible when you deliver it to the client. And that's--good news and bad news. I like doing this. I do this all the time, frequency separation, I do it for every job practically. And I don't want them to have my every layer. I don't want them touchin' it. If they want a change, call me up. I'll fix it. Because I'm also responsible for the mistakes they make if they change it. Does that make sense? Yeah, Good. Okay, so, this is from Leanne Peterson, who says, "I'm buying this one, definitely gonna be able to go back and re-watch it." Awesome. If I need to. But she is also curious about your basic frequency separation recipe for 16 bit. Did you talk to that yet? I can't, I'd have to look-- I'm really embarrassed to say I don't do it. I do not work in 16 bit. Okay. I can get it. Don't be embarrassed. You do add, not subtract, and the number's different. But I can look it up. I have it here, somewhere, so before we're done I'll look it up. I just don't work in 16 bit. Okay. So, I'm sorry. Okay. Don't be, that's great. And then another question from Art is "Frequency separation has a reputation of producing fake-looking skin, but yours look very real. Are there mistakes that people new to frequency separation often, on skin, tend to make, and--" Absolutely, and I-- Things that we should avoid. And, Art, thank you for the question. I think basically in a sense we've kinda covered it. It's by doing too much. So you do the dust and scratch layer, that we did here, and notice I put it down at 35%. You put it at 100% it looks ridiculous. So that's how they do. It's ham-fisting, we call it. When you're like arrggh! And I'm gonna tell you, just as a general rule, when y'all start out, you're gonna be ham-fisted. It's normal. You're not gonna be elegant, because you're just learning. And, so, with that note, I would suggest that you do each one of these in steps, so that you can pull it back. And it kinda goes along with what I was saying when you're looking at it small and you print it out and the results are not the same. When you have a movie poster, and you do a big poster, and then it has to go to social media and digital, small, you have to handle it completely different. Like if you have a real beautiful halo of white, like a back-lit thing, you make that small, it's gonna look like a crunchy outline, and you have to treat it differently. So it's not one shoe fits all.

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.

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Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017.1.1



  • 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.
  • Amazing opportunity to watch a Hollywood retouching pro in action, hands down one of the best classes I've seen. I love frequency separation, but Lisa takes it to an another mind-blowing level. I hope Creative Live brings her back for more in the future!
  • This class- and Lisa Carney- both incredible! After taking her color class, and then the portrait retouching class, I decided to add this one as well and dig deeper into Frequency Separation. I *LOVE* the way Lisa delivers the content, it's simple and easy to follow, but not slow and never boring... something really hard to accomplish in a video lesson, especially one on a technical topic. I'll be looking out for more classes with Lisa Carney... and hope she'll continue sharing her insightful knowledge and experience. IMHO she's the BEST BEST BEST (Finisher... and Creative Live instructor!)