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One of the main complaints subjects have about being photographed is skin imperfections showing up on camera. And it’s true, with high definition DSLRs, every pimple and blemish is on display. But that can be easily fixed with a little help from Photoshop. So the next time your model expresses concerns about their less than perfect skin, you can reassure them with confidence that their skin will look flawless by the time the photos are seen by the world.

In this tutorial, we’re going to learn how to perfect skin tone using frequency separation in Photoshop. Start by opening your portrait in Photoshop.

Make two copies of the background layer by clicking twice on the icon in the bottom right corner that looks like a piece of paper with the corner folded over. Name the middle layer Low Frequency Blur and the top layer High Frequency Texture. Now your layers panel should look like this:

Then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur, and an editing box will pop up.

In the editing box, increase the Radius until the pores and major blemishes disappear. Don’t increase too much or else the effect will look unnatural. Then click OK.

Next, go to Image>Apply Image and change the Layer to Low Frequency Blur with Channel set to RGB. Set the Blending mode to Subtract, Opacity to 100%, Scale to 2 and Offset to 128. Then click OK.

Above the layers panel next to the Opacity setting, click on the blending option drop down menu and select Linear Light. Then click the middle layer to activate it.

Zoom into the forehead so that it fills the screen. Click on the lasso tool and make a selection of the forehead. Then click Refine Edge and increase the feather until the edges are blurred. Remember the number of pixels and then hit Cancel.

Type the number you memorized into the Feather box at the top of the screen. The edges in my photo blurred at about 12 pixels, but this number will vary depending on the size and quality of the image.

Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and increase the Radius until the skin blotches start to disappear.

Draw another selection around the cheek and hit Control or Command + F to repeat the filter you just created for the forehead. Repeat this step with the other cheek, chin and space above the upper lip. Make sure you don’t get too close to the eyes, hair or lips.

Then make the High Frequency Texture layer active, and select the clone stamp tool. Change the mode to Normal, the Flow to 100 and the Opacity to 40. Hold down Alt and click a smooth area of skin. Then brush over the nose to even out the texture. Continue repeating the past two steps around the neck and face until the skin appears to have an even tone throughout.

Finally, activate the High Frequency Texture layer and select the Spot Healing Brush tool. Use the [ and ] keys to change the size of the brush until it’s slightly larger than the spots you want to remove. Start erasing any remaining zits or color imperfections until the skin looks flawless throughout. Zoom into the lips and erase any bumps or blemishes around the edges of the mouth.

You can see just how smooth the skin tone looks in a side by side compilation of the effect. With this technique, your models can rest assured their skin will end up looking flawless in every photo you make of them.



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