If you find yourself having to retouch skin in your images often, then you need more “professional” tools for the job. Cue Frequency Separation.

It is technique first developed by professional retouchers, so you know that it’s up to the job — but let’s take a step back and first understand why the pros love it so much.

The problem, or why images look “photoshopped”

You know how people like to people complain that photos look “photoshopped”?

Well, when it comes to digitally enhancing skin, old techniques that simply involve blurring away blemishes may be useful in some situations, but they also remove the most crucial thing to making images look realistic: texture.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a model or a regular joe on the street — you’ve got texture in your skin. It’s natural.

Yes, we could also use built in blemish removal and cloning tools, and they are very good these days, but there are many times where the fine gradations in tone on the face matter as much as removing ugly spots.

But the tools don’t always deal with those situations properly, and we sometimes get “splotchy” results that end up destroying much of the tonality and contrast that might make a shot beautiful.

Of course, to correct for that we could use brush tools to paint and blend in the contours that we want, but that takes a lot of time and work, and if you’re not as good an airbrush artist as you are a photographer or photo retoucher, you could end up with results that looked just as photoshopped.

The “professional” solution

So we need to save on time, skill and work. Frequency Separation helps with all of that.

What we do when we use this technique, is to split our images into 2 separate parts: a layer that contains most of the texture in the image, and another that contains the tonal and colour gradations in the image.

Brilliant, because then we can work on each individually, and then combine the results again to get our final image. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

We can use Blur or any texture softening technique to smooth out gradations that aren’t up to the mark, and we can use Clone, Healing Brush and/or other tools to remove those facial imperfections while still retaining a good deal of texture. And we can mix and match both as we need to do get the desired effect we want.

Affinity Photo upgrades Frequency Separation

The best part is that Affinity Photo makes Frequency Separation super-easy.

Previously you had to muck around with layers and filters to be able to set up the layers that you need, but AP has simply made it part of the software, simply select the menu command, adjust some settings and BOOM, you can get on with your retouching.

Of course, Frequency Separation is not a perfect solution — no technique ever is. But with this you can get further than even most professionals from half a decade ago, and that’s just awesome really.

Now check out the video see what you can do with it!

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