ONE of the most popular tools in Photoshop is the clone stamp. It is a simple and straightforward tool that duplicates pixels and overwrites them on a particular part of the image. With skilled hands using this tool, a simple tool becomes phenomenal.
In the later versions of Photoshop, the cheat tool came out. You don’t have to train like a shaolin to master this tool. It’s as simple as point and click. The results are very impressive. I’m referring to the healing brush and the rest of the healing family tools.
I’ve always wondered how Photoshop came out with an intelligent tool. The process of cloning skin when using the healing tool is surreal and works almost like a miracle. It removes unwanted details but preserves the tonality, which results to even skin tones.
If there’s one problem with the healing tool, it’s the softness of the result and sometimes even details that you wanted retained will be smoothened. The result is similar to an overly blurred skin that looks like a wax version of the person.
I’ve been doing professional retouching for a long time, and along the way, I learned about a technique called frequency separation. It’s quite a complicated procedure to follow but the results give you more control when cleaning up skin. It turned out that the healing tool is based on the technique.
The idea behind frequency separation is to separate two frequencies of a plane. First, it selects the details of the skin such as the pores, hair and textures. Whatever is left will be separated into another layer. Since the details and the tones are separated, you can now work on the two layers independently.
The decision on how much details you would like to separate and you want to retain is one of the powerful aspects of this technique. It’s like the healing tool but better. Controlling the volume of details is controlled using an unsharp mask technique learned in the darkroom days and used by Photoshop in its sharpening filter.
You can always Google the steps, and although it’s a bit complicated, as long as you follow the steps, it should work. The first few steps where you blur the image to separate the details from the tones are where you can play around to achieve a particular filtering between layers.
If you want to talk more about this technique, visit grp.ph/forum and shoot your questions there. Keep on shooting everyone.