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How to Use Filters on Skin Retouching

Lesson 4 from: Frequency Separation for Portraits

Lisa Carney

How to Use Filters on Skin Retouching

Lesson 4 from: Frequency Separation for Portraits

Lisa Carney

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Lesson Info

4. How to Use Filters on Skin Retouching

Lesson Info

How to Use Filters on Skin Retouching

We're gonna talk about using filters so we're gonna talk about dust and scratch filter, we're gonna talk about using a blank 50 percent grey layer, and using skin from another file which sounds so wrong, but it's so good, okay. I'm gonna show you a file that might scare you for a second and then we're gonna slowly go through the whole process, so, my before and after, this is not finished, this is just getting along the way here, here's what I have, I have a bunch of layers, I'm showing you first, and then we're gonna hand do it, okay we're gonna go through it, so these are a bunch of layers, I'm gonna delete all these and we're gonna start over, alright, so here we were just a few minutes ago, blur and gray. Best business practices for yourself and anybody else you know is make a duplicate, make a duplicate and why are you making a duplicate? Because you're gonna mess up. I guarantee, you're gonna mess up, and you don't wanna have to fun the frequency separation again, master tip numb...

er one, make a duplicate straight from the get go. So, maybe you should label your layers, so how about retouch blur, biggest pet peeve professionally I have is people don't label their layers. Absolutely number one pet peeve. Very important and please may I have your attention, on this one, we're gonna command J the gray layer, sweet Jesus god, I just had a sun overbake, right? Why is that, that is because it is on linear light, this is really critical, when you make a copy of your gray layer, you need to put it on normal mode, and pay attention here folks, you need to clip it. So what that's basically doing is the top layer which we certainly are gonna label cause we label everything, gray retouch, I don't always label them right, but I label 'em something, alright, basically photoshop is saying okay this gray retouch layer on normal, if I clip it to that bottom one it will act like that bottom one, ie linear dodge, but I've got full accessibility, I've got full mobility to do whatever I want. Alright, so now we're gonna start doing some crazy ass stuff, we're gonna retouch blur, I like to do a few things, first of all, I like to do a super blur, super bad, so I make another layer on top, I'm layer queen here, and I call it super blur, I usually do call it super blur I'm embarrassed to say, and what does that mean, that means I'm blurring it more, some people will blur it the exact amount that it was before, which was a seven, or a five, I tend to do a super blur like a 10 or a 15, so let's do a 10 on this one, and let's take a look and see what it did. I'm gonna turn it off and on. It's the Cybill Shepherd filter from Moonlighting, did you know that she used to have the Vaseline on the lens, that is exactly what this did, oh, everything's nice, alright, it's a little much, right? So let's do this, let's put a black mask on it, option click on the add a mask icon and I've got black, zoom in, aww this is painful, god, it's painful I'm looking at myself and my bloodshot eyes, but that's alright, okay, so, pick your foreground colors, you want to hit D for default to make sure you have 100 percent black and 100 percent white, I need a facial too, evidently, cause it looks like some black heads in there too, that's really pretty, alright, sorry you didn't need to hear me say that, alright I'm painting with white, let's go ahead and make that 100 percent opacity, the brush, and the great thing about this, it's a pretty subtle process, look, it's a facelift, little Botox action here, come on, and it's subtle, and what's nice about this is, I'm holding the space bar so I can move, I'm reducing the wrinkle tone but I'm not reducing the texture, okay, now, I've got some age spots goin' on here, we're gonna have to fix those. That blur, let's take a look at what we have, these are my two blur layers, that's the original blur, and that's the super blur, but do you see, that's texture, can you see that, those little sunspots, that's the texture but I still have some tone, so what I've done is I've made a retouch blur layer, just in case, I've made a super blur layer, and I've masked it in, and now I'm gonna make a blank paint layer, and I'mma use that gradient tool again, I love the gradient for this, and I'm gonna select my forehead color, and I'm gonna click and drag and I'm gonna start painting gradient, I'm selecting areas, I might want to reduce the opacity on this, y'all following along alright? Cool, cheeks, now the thing that I think folks find tricky about frequency separation, I'm just clicking and draggin', option, picking a color, is that you have to work in two different levels, so I'm doing the color but the retouching's not done, and when you're cloning and healing, you can do it all at one time and you see exactly what you get, this time you have to do it in two different spots, but it's worth the wait, so now, let's go back to those areas here, the top areas, and I'm gonna use the heal tool, let's say, heal, clone, yes darling? Just a really quick question, I'm following along so far but in the super blur mask, what's your goal, what are you shooting for, what are you looking to mask on? Excellent, great question, alright, as a general rule what I'm looking for are areas with contrast and folds of skin, folds of fabric, folds of skin, that just didn't sound very pretty, folds of skin, dark circles, and what it basically does is it smooths out what's there without surrendering texture, so you can often, I'm really sorry to say this, on men, you can not retouch anything on the gray layer and just blur 'em on the color layer, and they're done. (laughs) I know, right, it's not fair, it's not fair, so for example, look the hair's a little thin, that's the way it is, I wasn't gifted with a lot of hair, I can on that blank paint layer, again always with the gradient, I use it a lot, the gradient, I can select my hair color here, and click and drag, and start filling in tone, and it might be enough to get away with without having to paint hair. Now if you need to paint hair, I know of this gal who did this hair painting workshop, that they might be able to take on creative live, I'm just sayin', alright, I'm gonna paint in my crown here a little bit, do you kinda get the gist of what I'm doing? Now these hairs that are going over my forehead, I can now go on the gray layer, again let me be really clear about the different tools, when you're on the blur slash paint layer, I call it the paint layer, but the blur color layer, you're using the painting tools, brush, smudge, gradient, when you're on the gray layers, you're using the cloning, healing tool, okay. Now please, I'm gonna say it a hundred times, cause this is where people are gonna mess up, please make sure when you go to the gray layer you're on this layer only, and now I can retouch out those hairs pretty quickly, so in our business, a lot of folks, I know you'll be shocked to hear, but the actors have wigs on, in films, and there's a web meshing they put on their heads, it's really attractive, and it comes over, this is the fastest way to take it out. It used to be in the old days you had to hand clone it out, now you just do this. Because I'm not worried about color, I can just do this, so I'm doing this fast and furious, oh well that doesn't look good, do you see that dark area under my hair, go back to your retouch layer, take the smudge tool, and push up that highlight color, now where it gets a little tricky here is if you've painted on this layer here, you've gotta watch out. What? If you painted on this super blur layer, I can't smudge underneath it or you won't see it, so what I will sometimes do while I'm working is I'll turn that on like that, and go okay, and I have to tell you I am not afraid because this process is so fast, I'm not afraid to commit, so if I did a super blur 10, I'm turning the base blur back on, the retouch blur, I'm gonna say, yahoo, I like this, I'm holding the shift key, I'm selecting the two layers, I hit command e and I merge it, and there I am. I'll rename it because it's not longer super blur, it's little super blur, and now, I can go in, and just blur, I'm smudging, I love this, cause can you imagine, look at that gradient, if you had to paint that gradient, that's a bitch, that's really hard, smudging ain't hard, it's just a little, whoo hoo hoo, I'm gonna recommend you don't clone on the blur layer, because I find when you clone on the blur layer you tend to get a halo, and it'll show up. Cause you want it amorphic, you want it soft. So are you guys following along okay, everything cool? It's remarkable, I'm telling you, you can do the whole face, this whole face, all in blur. Big goal of mine that you guys get good before you get fast, and I know it's a little bit of a broken record but most folks are so into getting fast, give me fast, fast, fast, fast, and they suck, they're not even looking at what they're doing, they're not contemplating what they're doing, and they're not mastering their tools, and god love Photoshop, it comes out with amazing tricks, and all these cool, look what you can do in here, but I'll tell you there's some filters that were amazing that are gone, now, and if you don't know how to build it by hand, first, by yourself, you're buggered, you're absolutely buggered, that's a swear word in England, I shouldn't say that either, alright so my goal is that you have a really complex understanding of what Photoshop does and then you can go use filters, then you can use tricks, you can buy plugins, actions that will do beauty retouching for you. I'm not saying they're bad, but it's kind of like making a cake from scratch, or buying a Betty Crocker, which one's gonna taste better. In my house? Oh yeah, good point, but the key is I want you to know it, my goal when teaching classes, is that if you get stuck, you can take your hands off the steering wheel for a second and go okay what's going on, what have I done, what do I need to do, if you've used an action or a filter, you're not going to know what you did, so it's worth doing it by hand first, then going into the trickery as I like to call it. Alright, now as I'm going in on the painting and blurring and do you notice I made a blank paint layer, I'm gonna make a suggestion you also do things like label exactly what it is, for example under eyes, the bags, that's a really tough area, and if you've done all this beautiful painting here, and then you start doing the under eye bags and you totally jack it up, you don't want to have to start all over again, so while you're starting out, or even when you're not it's just a good practice, under eyes, do segments on the head, and then if you're done and you're happy, merge it, command shift e, you can collapse it, alright, so here is what I'm gonna do, I'm going to select a color and I'm gonna do a gradient under my eyes, and do you notice how I'm not being careful? The other plus about doing the paint layer and doing it on a separate layer like I have under eyes, is I can mask that now, option click add a layer mask, and I'm gonna paint with the paintbrush with white, and now I can go ahead and paint, just making it 100 percent opacity, and I can paint it in as need be, now the texture is where the problem comes in, I got some texture goin' on here. So let's talk about a couple things with texture, you guys following along, we did the paint, and did you guys notice I'm going back and forth, I'm going back and forth from the paint to the detail, paint to the detail, and you want to be free about it, so the first thing I'm gonna do is, as always, I'm gonna make a copy in case I screw up, command j, I'm gonna copy the gray layer and I'm gonna try a filter called dust and scratch, I love dust and scratch, okay, again, you need to clip it, very important. Now this is a very personal decision to make, what kind of filter and how much you wanna do, it's gonna get rid of the detail basically, so what we're gonna do is we're gonna go in here and we're gonna go under filter, noise, dust and scratch, and we're gonna pick some numbers, and this is where you've got to decide, it depends on the image, it depends on the blur on the image, the fidelity of the shot, how close you are, how texturey they are, what you're gonna pick, I will tell you though, there're a few numbers that I generally use, six six is generally a good one for me, three and ten, often good on men, ten and three, and ten and three is for some serious retouching, okay so do you see how obliterated everything is? Retouching is definitely a personal process, people have different tastes, some people love that butter skin, some people wanna see some texture, and as I've said before, I am not the final purveyor of my job, someone is paying me to do these jobs and they're gonna pick so I want to be flexible. So let's say I'm gonna go backwards on that, I'm gonna stick with the six and six. And you know, if you don't know what to do, do it a few different times and paint it in and decide as you go, now I do wanna do a little caveat here, it might be a little hard to see on screen, you may have to take my word on it, when you use dust and scratch, at six and six you often get a little bit of fragmentation going on, again you may have to just trust me, you'll see it on your screen at home when you're working, so I often do a little gaussian blur, like point three or point five on top, just to soften that, can you guys see that, okay cool, if not just take my word on it, cause I wouldn't lie to ya. Alright, so dust and scratch, well my eyes look like crap, right, as always, put a black mask on it and paint it in, okay, now let's talk about that technique, I know folks who would prefer to put a white mask and paint black, I put a black mask and paint white, why, I do it almost exclusively on everything that I do because what that means is where my brush is, my eyes are, I'm looking at it, and if you have a white mask that you're painting out black, you might miss a ton of stuff on the side but your brush did not go over it, so my eyes are looking where that brush is, so nothing gets put down on the screen without me seeing it, nothing. So just a suggestion. Alright I'm painting with my dust and scratch, I'm gonna tell ya for me, this is a little heavy, I think it's a little too far, but you know what's awesome, layer opacity, now I can come back, I'm gonna admit to something because hopefully none of my clients are watching, I will occasionally have a job where I'll do some retouching, and you tend to go heavy first, and have 'em tell you to pull back, because everybody wants to have a comment. They wanna say something on a job, they just do, they wanna have a markup, let's call a spade a spade, they just do, they want to have a markup, so what I do is I often go a little bit heavy, and then for me to pull back I'll say ooh yeah, I'll get that to you in an hour, 50 percent opacity, go have some lunch, come back, do you like it? I admitted that on live TV, I did. I think some clients are gonna ask for some refunds, alright, so I'm gonna paint this through, y'all following along alright, cool. So I know that there's retouchers who make a beautiful living, beautiful living at retouching, and then they say oh, I just use frequency separation for a tiny bit, I use it for everything, sorry my hands, are, oh chest stuff, now let's talk about that, often the chest is gonna need a lot more than the face is gonna, I like the sun, there's some sun stuff going on here, so you might wanna make a section for the chest, and don't be afraid to use different texture blurs on the chest either, so real quickly I'm just gonna select some color, I'm not really fussed what color I'm picking, for the chest, I'm option clicking, and in the masking classes that you guys have, one of the things hopefully, gonna turn the frequency separation off for a second, in the masking classes you learn how to pull channels, hopefully, or, in said class that was just a few minutes ago, I'm gonna pull a channel to select the skin, cause I don't wanna have to mask it out by hand, I use the red channel cause there's so much tone, there's so much red in the skin it's gonna be white, so I'm doing levels, Lisa said do levels, command l, please note when I do the channel pull to paint the skin in, I have the frequency separation turned off, cause I don't want the blurry stuff, I want the sharp stuff, let's just say for giggles that's good, and let's say we use the dodge tool to finish up that last little area, I don't care about my face part, that's cool. Command click on the channel that you've just made, which is called red copy, I should call red copy for skin but you get the point, go back to your chest layer, click on the mask, and now it's masked in, and I didn't have to do it by hand, and then we'll put the gray layer on, and okay, that's a little rough, and there's some things going on here so let's talk about this, don't let me lose you here, what you may want to do is change the blur factor first of all, so I'm gonna take that dust and scratch off, do you see how I'm going back and forth between each layer like it's no big deal, that's what I'd like you guys to be, to not be afraid to go between your layers, like know what your layers are doing, I'm definitely gonna pull back that color, that is way too dark so I'm gonna put that at say 80 percent opacity, the fill color, go back to the gray retouch, let's try a different dust and scratch just for the chest, I'm gonna zoom in, please note, I definitely link that layer and call it dust scratch for chest alright, and notice I'm zoomed in super tight and close, do not do this far away, cause you won't be able to see what you're doing, and I don't care what its doing on my face, so let's end the conversation there, and let's see how far we wanna go. Okay well that's a little bit too much, right, alright let's say for giggles, we like that, eh, it's a little chicken skinny, let's just do four, just for giggles, right here, now, I don't want it over the whole piece, do I, most definitely not, so put a black mask, option click, and then paint it in, and what the hell you made that channel, right, not that one, this one, command click on it, and as I said before, I like to paint in where my brush is, so I'm not doing an automatic fill, I wanna see where this is going, I could fill it with white, but I'd rather look and see exactly where it's going, see that, now there's a wee bit of a halo and this happens a lot with frequency separation, and while you're trying to figure out what's causing the halo, what you're gonna have to do is go back and forth between different layers, so I'm gonna go to the color layer, and I may need to smudge down my mask a little, nope, I don't want to do that, smudge up my mask, no, I want to smudge the color, no, it's not working, this is really important, cause it's gonna be on either of those two layers, it's either gonna be on the color layer, or it's going to be on the tone, I'm gonna go to the tone layer, I'm on the rubber stamp tool, the clone tool, option click for a source point, make sure I'm on current layer, and I'm gonna start cloning, and now, I'm gonna do something really crazy, do you see my mask, right there, I'm gonna blur my mask out a little as well, it's a little halo-ey but I think we can live with it. So let's take a look and see what we've done so far. Some of it's a little ridiculous, right, yeah it's a little too much, the beautiful thing about this process is you can pull it back, the key is to figure out what is too much, is it the blur that was too much, or is it the texture, or was it the whole thing, so here's what you can consider, you can turn off and on the whole thing, and go okay well that color on the forehead's a little too much, again it's all taste, it depends on what you like. Eh, that's not so bad, ah, here's where I lost the plot, do you see that? So what I'm trying to get you guys used to is being willing to just take a look, turn it off and on, don't be afraid, put a black mask on that corner hair, and take it off, alright cool, chest, under eyes, maybe the dust and scratch was too much, maybe we put that back to 25. Maybe the retouch blur in that upper corner was too much, maybe we put that back at 50, and you remember I said you make a copy? You make a copy so you can always go backwards, always, so it's fully fully flexible. You guys get the gist, all good? It's actually easy, it's just a matter of one, the basic recipe, two, if you're gonna add chocolate chips and almonds, add 'em in separate little pockets so you can take 'em in or out as needed.

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


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!

Student Work