A Guide to Frequency Separation in Photoshop

When used correctly, frequency separation can be a very powerful and efficient tool for editing your portraits. This great video tutorial will show you a straightforward method to use frequency separation in your portrait retouching.

Coming to you from Miguel Quiles, this helpful tutorial will show you how to use frequency separation in Photoshop to edit portraits. The beauty of frequency separation is that it takes advantage of the Fourier Transform to separate the texture data from the color and luminance data of an image. This allows you to work on things like evening skin tone independently of fixing blemishes. It's quite versatile; for example, I often use it to even out wrinkles in the subject's clothing. That being said, frequency separation has a bit of a controversial reputation, as it tends to get overused and misused a bit, often leading to very plastic and overly edited portraits. It's particularly important with such efficient and powerful methods to use them in moderation. In particular, be sure to step away from the photo when you're finished editing and come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes after a few minutes. Check out the video above for the full rundown. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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Is PS still being used by professionals?
Affinity Photo can do all that (and more) absolutely hassle free with a simple touch of a button. No messy and numerous layers, no fiddly scripts and files to download and no clumsy handling or the occasional error message. Quality output is also top of the line and comparable, if not even better to PS. I find it strange that a software that is supposedly being used by professionals still doesn't have these tools out of the box and as a default available and that a small software company can basically steal the show in terms of usability and quality right now.

Good video and tutorial, though. Thanks for that.

Im sure there are way more professional using photoshop than there are affinity photo. You dont seem to understand how powerful photoshop is if you complain of using too many layers.


I appreciate the fact that guys like Miguel help PS users for free.
What I don't get is why mose of those guys retouch 8 bit files.... what a loss of information!

...Fourier transform? Really? How do you come to this conclusion?


FS is not Fourier transform. It's a hybrid edge detection method, while FT is a pattern extraction. The High Pass or subtraction method both use differencing based on defining the width of a contrast gradient as an edge. That's it. Please stop using "Fourier Transform" to describe frequency separation.