Frequency Separation Tutorial

Discuss and share Pixelmator Pro resources such as templates, mockups, and tutorials.
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2019-11-11 01:53:10

I have figured out (read: Googled) a better way to separate frequencies so that one can do skin-smoothing using Pixelmator Pro. I’ve tried it, and the results are perfect. No High Pass filter is needed, we’ll do our own homemade high pass.

The goal of this tutorial is to create two frequency layers, the high and the low. The high frequency layer contains textures and edges—things our eyes see quickly. The low frequency layer contains colors (your image set with Gaussian blur). Blended together, these two combine to become the original image perfectly, but since they are separate, one can do fine touch-up work on skin color and skin texture for next-level results.

Duplicate the layer twice.
• Select the layer and type  Command Shift D  (× 2)
• Select the layer, Edit → Duplicate (× 2)

Add the Gaussian effect to the top layer. Radius set to 10.0 px.
Format → Effects → Blur → Gaussian
• In Effects, select Add → Blur → Gaussian

Add the Invert effect to the same layer.
Format → Effects → Color Adjustments → Invert
• In Effects, select Add → Color Adjustments → Invert

Set the top layer’s opacity to 50%.
• In Layers (View → Layers → Show Layers), type 50 into the input field
• In Style (S), in the input field for Opacity (Normal) type 50

Group the top two layers.
• Hold Shift and select the top and middle layer, type Command G.
• Hold Shift and select the top and middle layer, select Arrange → Group

Set the blending mode for this group to Linear Light
• In Layers (View → Layers → Show Layers), select Normal → Linear Light
• In Style (S), select Opacity (Normal) → Linear Light

Boom. There’s the high-pass filter. These two top layers combine to form the high frequency layer. (Merge or don’t, either way.) Now leave this group alone. For the layer we haven’t touched, the bottom layer, let’s blur and flatten it for the low frequency layer.

Duplicate the bottom layer.
• Select the layer and type  Command Shift D
• Select the layer, Edit → Duplicate

Add the Gaussian effect to the duplicate layer. Radius set to 10.0 px.
Format → Effects → Blur → Gaussian
• In Effects, select Add → Blur → Gaussian

Flatten the effects. (Optional)
Format → Effects → Flatten Effects
• In Effects, hold Option and select Reset Effects / Flatten Effects

That’s it. Now that I know I can do this in Pixelmator Pro, it’s a game changer regarding what I can do.
User avatar

2019-11-11 09:57:42

Awesome! Just moving this to the Pixelmator Pro Resources forum to keep things tidy... :pray:
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2020-04-20 21:32:36


Bought Pixelmator Pro last week. Since then I have been trying hard to find a way to get a high pass filter effect.

Is there a way to get luminosity mask in Pixelmator Pro?
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2020-04-22 11:45:46

by aligohar Is there a way to get luminosity mask in Pixelmator Pro?
There is indeed! Seeing as a luminosity mask is based on the brightness values in an image and masks are black and white, we basically need a black and white version of the image you're editing with adjusted brightness values based on the areas we'd like to mask. Then we can put this adjusted image inside a mask. So, here's how I'd do this:

1. Duplicate the image you're editing twice.
2. Apply the Black & White and Lightness adjustments to the topmost layer.
3. Adjust the layer using the Exposure and Contrast sliders (you can hold down the Option key to extend the range of those sliders. Any areas that are completely white will be fully affected by your future adjustments. If you'd like to adjust the darkest areas of the image (i.e. create a darks/shadows luminosity mask), apply the Invert adjustment so that the shadows are white and the highlights black.
4. In the Layers sidebar, Control-click the middle layer and choose Add Mask. After adding your mask, choose Format > Effects > Fill > Image (make sure the Image fill effect is applied to the mask rather than the image layer).
5. Drag the black and white layer from the Layers sidebar into the image well (the rectangle with the flower) in the Tool Options pane.
6. You can now hide the topmost black and white layer you used for the luminosity mask and click to select the middle group layer (which now has you luminosity mask). Choose the Color Adjustments tool and make whatever adjustments you like!

To summarize:

– To create a lights luminosity mask — use a black and white version of your image (with other exposure-based adjustments, if you feel they're needed) and apply it to the mask.
– To create a darks luminosity mask, invert the image and adjust as needed.
– For a midtones mask, you'd need to have two black and white versions of the original image — a regular and an inverted version. Put the inverted version above and blend them using the Darker Color blending mode. The midtones should now be white and the highlights + shadows black, though you may need to make Lightness adjustments to both layers to get the right amount of midtones in the mask. If you also group those two together, you can drag and drop the group into the image well just like a single image layer to insert it into the mask.

Hope that helps!
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2020-04-22 19:38:34

Thanks Andrius.
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2020-04-26 15:28:09

Happy to help! Just out of interest — did you try the instructions and, if you did, did you get the result you were looking for?
User avatar

2020-04-27 15:31:54

Yes I did get the desired results.
Now this take us to next question. Is there a way to create new actions in Pixelmator Pro, for example creating an action to make a luminosity mask.

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2020-04-27 16:01:02

There currently isn't a way to do this but we're working on adding AppleScript support and, once that's ready, this should be possible. I'll do my best to remember this workflow once we start testing the update internally. :pray:
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2020-08-20 22:35:11

So I did all of this, but how do I ACTUALLY smooth skin with this? I don't even know what to do next.
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2020-08-21 01:47:28

That's a tutorial all in and of itself. Search "Phlearn" on Youtube for Photoshop tutorials that can apply to Pixelmator Pro.
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2020-08-21 11:38:43

So, with the upcoming AppleScript, it's totally possible to create a High-Pass Filter script — here's one I made: ... 10821.scpt

P.S. For anyone who finds this before the update is available, you'll need to sign up for the beta.
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2020-12-17 04:59:58

Thanks for posting this! Do you happen to have a video of the process? I learn better by watching it all play out.
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2020-12-18 15:41:10

by Heathebelle Thanks for posting this! Do you happen to have a video of the process? I learn better by watching it all play out.
We don't currently have a video tutorial for this... :disappointed:

However, a High Pass effect will be added in the next Pixelmator Pro update, coming next week. So that's pretty cool, too. :raised_hands:
User avatar

2020-12-21 15:11:20

As of Pixelmator Pro 2.0.2, a High Pass effect is now available in the Effects tool!