In this video I walk through a simple background replacement and skin retouch. In this video I used quick selection, masks and mask refinement as well as working with frequency separation and face shape removing blemishes and smoothing the skin at a large scale while leaving the natural pores and other defects.
On White head shots can be tough if you have to work on location. In this case, logistically, I didn’t want to have to haul a 4 light setup, backdrop and v-flats to the shoot location. I took advantage of the (nearly) white walls at the location and concentrated on lighting the subject the way I wanted. I used 2 lights, a large 3×4 soft-box on the subject and a 3×1.5 strip box on the background to light it.
It is easiest to replace a background when the new background is similar in color and tone to the original. By adding the light the the background I was able to get close enough to make life easier during the retouching.
Because the original background was nearly white, the quick selection tool in Affinity Photo did a reasonably good job of picking out the background. Once I had a rough selection, I created a mask and inverted it (because I had selected the background but I wanted to mask IN the subject instead). A quick pass through the “refine mask” tool allowed me to clean up the edges and get the mask very close to perfect.
Once the subject was masked, all I had to do was create an empty pixel layer, move it below the subject and fill it with white.
Frequency Separation and Face Shape
Frequency separation is frequently (see what I did there) used to smooth skin blemishes, and remove pores, and other natural skin features. In this case, I used frequency separation to remove the bags under the subjects eyes and reduce the laugh lines around his eyes. I also used blended regions of the low frequency layer to smooth the shape of his face.
Shadow is the main queue our brains use to turn 2D images into 3D ideas. By lightening and darkening areas I can control shape. In this case, the lighting setup highlighted some undulations in the subjects cheeks. Blending the light and dark areas to a uniform and consistent pattern causes those undulations to disappear. The same applies to things like wrinkles in a neck when it is turned.