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How to Make a Frequency Separation Photoshop Action

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Although retouching is an art that requires time and skill, Photoshop actions can automate some of the repetitive tasks. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create an action in Photoshop to automate one such task. Frequency separation allows you to edit the colors and textures separately, to retouch the skin without turning it into a plastic mask. With a frequency separation action, you'll be able to do retouching much faster!

If you want to learn how to use Photoshop actions or what Photoshop actions are, you may want to check these tutorials first:

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube Channel:

How to Create a Frequency Separation Action

Step 1

Open your photo in Photoshop. Make sure your image is the background layer. If not, go to Layer > New > Background from Layer.

background from layer

Step 2

Create a New Action.

create enw action

Step 3

Give it a name.

name your action

Step 4

Duplicate the layer twice by pressing Control-J. Name the lower layer Low Frequency and the upper one High Frequency. Hide the High Frequency layer.

duplicate layers

Step 5

Select the Low Frequency layer and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Adjust the Radius to remove most of the details. We want this layer to contain colors, but not texture.

add gaussian blur

Step 6

Show the other layer and change its Blend Mode to Linear Light.

change mode to linear light

Step 7

Go to Filter > Other > High Pass. Adjust the Radius to bring the texture back. Keep it subtle, trying to avoid the glow.

add high pass filter
high pass sharpening

Step 8

Click Stop Recording.

stop recording action

Step 9

The problem with this action is that every photo needs a different radius for blur and high pass. To make it more universal, check the square next to these positions on the list.

make action customizable

Step 10

Now, every time you play the action, you'll be asked to adjust the Radius manually.

play an action

Step 11

Here's where the action ends. Now you have two layers: Low Frequency contains colors, and High Frequency contains texture. You can edit them separately. 

First, hide the High Frequency layer. Use the Healing Brush Tool (J) or the Clone Stamp Tool (S) to replace the colors and tones that you don't want to see with colors from other areas. It may take a while, but with this method you don't have to worry about losing texture in the process. You can focus completely on the colors.

retouch colors and tones
basic photoshop retouch

Step 12

Next, show the High Frequency layer. Make sure that your Healing Brush is set to Current Layer only. Then repeat the process, this time filling the unwanted areas with the proper texture. Again, it may be time-consuming, depending on the task, but here you don't need to care about the colors. You can borrow the texture from any area, regardless of its background. This makes the process much easier.

retouch texture
how to retouch skin

Retouching Photoshop Actions

Frequency Separation Photoshop Actions

As you can see, Photoshop actions can make the process of retouching easier and faster. But more powerful actions can even do most of the work for you! For example, this set contains highly intelligent actions that utilize face detection to create frequency separation, and it offers an auto-retouch feature as well.

Frequency Separation Photoshop Actions

Skin Retouching Actions

These actions let you retouch portraits in a fraction of the time with only a beginner's knowledge of Photoshop. You can mattify, airbrush, and heal skin using the same techniques professionals use. This set contains tools like mattifier, lip enhancer, teeth whitener, and more.

Skin Retouching Actions

Beauty Box Photoshop Actions

From high-end magazine-quality editing to quick retouching for everyday use, the “Beauty Box” is all you will need! This collection has gone above and beyond any other beauty retouching set on the market, by bringing you one-of-a-kind skin shade matching techniques and an array of beautifully blended digital cosmetics.

Beauty Box Photoshop Actions

Skin Retouch Photoshop Actions Vol. 2

This set offers a variety of effects that are easy to use and customize. After playing an action, simply open the action folder in the layers palette and adjust each individual layer’s opacity and blending mode. You have the power to adjust as necessary to fine tune each action for your personal needs.

Skin Retouch Photoshop Actions Vol 2

Good Job!

Now you know how to create a frequency separation action in Photoshop. If you want to learn how to create other Photoshop actions, check out our tutorials:

how to retouch skin with photoshop action
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