Frequency separation is a powerful retouching technique used by many professionals to enhance portraits while retaining detail. As with many editing techniques, it requires practice and restraint for the best results. This great video tutorial will show you how to quickly clean up your portraits. Using the free action for Photoshop CC you can make your portraits pop without looking over-processed.
Prince Meyson gives a great introduction to frequency separation in this short and straightforward video tutorial. Prince also has a free Photoshop Action that you can download here that allows you to use this editing technique with one click in Photoshop. In addition to frequency separation, this video shows you how to quickly color grade your images using LUTs in Photoshop CC. Historically LUTs (Look Up Tables) have most commonly been used to color grade video, we can now use LUTs in Photoshop CC to enhance our images. Purple 11 has a fantastic free pack of LUTs available to download here for you to practice with.
For those unfamiliar with frequency separation, it is a retouching technique that allows you to separate the color information from the detail of your image so that you can make adjustments to the color layer or the detail layer independent of each other.
Frequency separation is a divisive subject among portrait photographers. It’s certainly a powerful tool that can be used to smooth skin, remove blemishes, and produce consistent skin tones. However, it’s very easy to overdo it when you’re starting to learn this skill. Many professionals still opt for more time-consuming methods such as dodging & burning, mixer brush, and clone stamp.
Frequency separation is definitely a good starting point when learning how to edit portraits. As you become more proficient in Photoshop you can start to incorporate other tools into your workflow. Photoshop can be intimidating when you’re starting out, I’ve always found it helpful to learn one technique, practice it and become comfortable with that skill, then you can start to combine the different skills you learn over time to achieve a variety of results. Use this tool sparingly as restraint is key to keeping your portraits looking natural.