As photographers, it is our duty to capture the ‘perfect shot’ during a photo session. Nevertheless, there will always be flaws and imperfections within the frame. Fortunately, with today’s advanced technology, we are able to achieve the desired image that we want through post-production. Although we might think we got the perfect shot, it can still be enhanced and that’s where the magic of ‘portrait retouching’ comes in.

Before we begin touching up any part of the skin, we will first take a look at the entire photo. We want to spot the blemishes and elements that we want to fix or remove later on. With this technique, we won’t be skipping areas that need fixing. Above is the image we want to retouch. Let’s begin our tutorial.

Step 1: Skin Retouching

As we want to focus on a particular area to manage workflow, let’s begin with the skin first. Notice how the model has pretty fair skin already. In this part, we ensure not to overdo the retouching by fixing only the areas that we can see and just light changes to other areas.

Frequency separation, in its simplest terms, action divides your image into 2 layers. These layers are:

High Frequency – Skin details such as pores, lines, acne, scars and stray hairs. These are typically called the high frequencies and in actions are known as the high-frequency layer.

Low Frequency- color, tones, and skin transitions from light to dark are on the second layer and typically called low frequency or color/ tones layer.

By separating the image in this way you can remove blemishes and blend skin color without losing overall skin texture. If done well, it stops the subject from looking artificial and too heavily edited. Let’s work on the frequency separation layers. You will see the ‘high’ and ‘low’ frequency layers. Simply put, high is the texture layer and low is the color/tone layer.

So going back, we want to slightly smoothen the parts of the skin and reduce the shine on the forehead using the frequency layers. Begin with the ‘low’ layer by using the patch tool. Encircle the area you want to fix, then drag it to the skin color you want it to imitate. Keep patching it out until you blend it nice and clean. You’ll notice that it only changed the colors and the skin texture is untouched.

Since we have the frequency separation layers we can also blend out other parts of the skin by the combination of patch and clone stamp tools.

Try playing with the brush and patch tools until you notice the smoothing effect on the skin. If the skin is fairly smooth and clean yet still looks natural we can move on forward.

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