Tutorial for Wavelet Decompose Plug-in for Gimp

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What is Wavelet Decompose Plug-in for Gimp?

Gimp's Wavelet Decompose Plug-in (find links for it at the bottom of this page) is a plug-in that allows you to alter a photo's detail by splitting it into layers of varying scales of detail plus a residual layer.This is ideal for skin retouching where you might want to remove or reduce the strength of certain details, for example freckles, wrinkles or pores, without causing that 'mannequin look' you see on many touched up photos.

This video tutorial teaches you how to use the Wavelet Decompose plug-in for Gimp with the use of screen shots, text explanations and video tutorials.

I have written a few other photography articles, you'll find the links to them at the bottom of this tutorial. Also, feel free to leave any comments at the bottom of the page in the comments section.

What is Gimp?

Gimp is the awesome and free, that's right free, photo editing software that is used by millions of people worldwide. It is as good as Photoshop and did I mention that it's free? You can download Gimp from Gimp.org. There are lots of books out there that teach you how to use Gimp, I have included an Amazon link and an Ebay link to such books for anyone who might be interested in learning learning more about Gimp.

The Book of Gimp from Amazon.com

The Book of GIMP: A Complete Guide to Nearly Everything
The Book of GIMP: A Complete Guide to Nearly Everything

This book has an average customer review of 4.8 stars out of 5

 

More scales Vs less scales

It is far better to work with more scales. I like to decompose photos into at least 10 scales. This usually ensures that the details I want to work on are going to be in at least one of the scales layers. If any of the detail I want to work on appears in the residual layer then I just keep adding scales until none of it appears in the residual layer. See photos below for an image of a residual layer.

The residual layer basically contains all the detail that hasn't been isolated because it would be in a higher scale than you allowed. eg. if you only decomposed your image into 5 scales and the detail you want to isolate would be in a higher scale then it will appear in the residual layer.

I never work on the residual layer simply because there are too many colours to work with and if you don't pick the right colour to use on the area you're working on, you could end up with a very unnatural look - the very thing you're trying to avoid. I don't have the time nor the patience to keep picking and switching colours on the residual layer, so I just make sure I decompose my image into enough layers of scales in the first place.

If you scroll down the page far enough you'll be able to see some before and after shots of photos that I've worked on with different numbers of scales just to show you what I mean.


Freckles: Before and After Wavelet Decompose

Above: Before Wavelet Decompose
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose | Source
Above: After Wavelet Decompose
Above: After Wavelet Decompose

Freckles

With the following photo I wanted to reduce the darkness of the freckles, so I split the image into 10 scales and worked on the scales where the freckles are the detail that stand-out the most. In this case it was scales 6 and 7. In scales 5 and 8 other details were too obvious and it would have been too hard to eliminate the freckles without affecting the detail I didn't want to remove.

I removed the freckles by simply painting over them with a fuzzy paint brush of a neutral grey colour. I chose a grey colour on each scale I worked on with the colour picker tool. On the higher scales, colour starts to appear, always pick a colour that is going to blend in with areas around the detail(s) you're removing for a more natural look.

Before and after Wavelet Decompose Plug-in for Gimp - freckles

Above: Before Wavelet Decompose Plug-in for Gimp.
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose Plug-in for Gimp. | Source
Above: After Wavelet Decompose Plug-in for Gimp.
Above: After Wavelet Decompose Plug-in for Gimp.
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose | Source
Above: After Wavelet Decompose
Above: After Wavelet Decompose

Wrinkles and make-up

For the following photo I wanted to decrease the strength of the wrinkles and make-up, especially around the eyes and mouth for the wrinkles and cheeks for the make-up. I divided the picture into 10 scales and worked on scales 4, 5 and 6 and left the others untouched. It was just a matter of picking a colour close to the areas I was retouching, so that the result looked natural. If the colour doesn't seem to blend in, keep trying until you pick a colour that matches. Large areas required a large brush and on the smaller areas I reduced the size of my brush. I avoided the areas I didn't want to retouch.

I removed some of the shine on the nose and cheeks too.

Scroll down to see images of the scales before I touched them up.

Before and after Wavelet Decompose Plug-in for Gimp - wrinkles

Above: Before Wavelet Decompose Plug-in for Gimp
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose Plug-in for Gimp | Source
Above: Scale 4 - before
Above: Scale 4 - before
Above: Scale 4 - after
Above: Scale 4 - after
Above: Scale 5 - before
Above: Scale 5 - before
Above: Scale 5 - after
Above: Scale 5 - after
Above: Scale 6 - before
Above: Scale 6 - before
Above: Scale 6 - after
Above: Scale 6 - after

Wavelet Decompose - Birthmarks and age spots - before and after

Above: Before Wavelet Decompose Plug-in for Gimp
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose Plug-in for Gimp
Abvoe: After Wavelet Decompose
Abvoe: After Wavelet Decompose

Wavelet Decompose plug-in for Gimp - Spots and marks

With the following photo I wanted to remove the birthmarks and age spots. Again I split the picture into 10 scales and with this one I worked on scales 5 to 9. I really like the end result for this one, I think it's the most natural-looking one.

I have included pictures of the scales before and after I worked on them.

Gimp Wavelet Decompose Before and After - Birthmarks and age spots

Above: Before Wavelet Decompose
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose
Above: After Wavelet Decompose
Above: After Wavelet Decompose
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose - scale 5
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose - scale 5
Above: After Wavelet Decompose - scale 5
Above: After Wavelet Decompose - scale 5
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose - scale 6
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose - scale 6
Above: After Wavelet Decompose - scale 6
Above: After Wavelet Decompose - scale 6
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose - scale 7
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose - scale 7
Above: After Wavelet Decompose - scale 7
Above: After Wavelet Decompose - scale 7
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose - scale 8
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose - scale 8
Above: After Wavelet Decompose - scale 8
Above: After Wavelet Decompose - scale 8
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose - scale 9
Above: Before Wavelet Decompose - scale 9
Above: After Wavelet Decompose - scale 9
Above: After Wavelet Decompose - scale 9

10 scales Vs 5 scales

Above: This imaged was decomposed into only 5 scales.
Above: This imaged was decomposed into only 5 scales.
This image was decomposed into 10 scales
This image was decomposed into 10 scales

Decomposed into 5 layers of scales (before and after) plus residual layer

Above: Before
Above: Before
Above: After.
Above: After.
Above: Residual layer of image decomposed into 5 layers of scales. As you can see the details I wanted to isolate (birthmarks and age spots) is still clearly visible in the residual layer. I would therefore need to decompose my image into more layers
Above: Residual layer of image decomposed into 5 layers of scales. As you can see the details I wanted to isolate (birthmarks and age spots) is still clearly visible in the residual layer. I would therefore need to decompose my image into more layers

Wavelet Decompose video tutorial

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Comments are always welcome, please leave yours below. 7 comments

SmartAndFun profile image

SmartAndFun 3 years ago from Texas

Wow, I especially love that first photo! Gorgeous girl with beautiful freckles! My daughter uses GIMP sometimes to draw with but the one time I looked at it, it confused me. I'll have to give it a second try, and maybe have my daughter explain it to me. I love the idea of retouching photos without them having that over-airbrushed look. Thanks for sharing your tips!


sleepylog profile image

sleepylog 3 years ago from Australia Author

Thank you for your comment and kind words. I'll be uploading more photos in the next day, keep an eye out for them.

Gimp can be a little overwhelming at first but it's really worth trying to get the hang of it. There are books and many tutorials about it, try searching on youtube for a basic tutorial.


mizjo profile image

mizjo 3 years ago from New York City, NY

Is the plugin Mac-compatible? I have never come across this plugin before. Seems like it could be very useful for stock photography. But what are 'scales'?


sleepylog profile image

sleepylog 3 years ago from Australia Author

Scales, also known as frequencies, are different levels of detail according to the size of the detail. The smallest scales contain smaller details and the larger scales contain larger details. The more scales you create, the more detail you'll be able to 'isolate'. Using more scales gives you a more natural look at the end.

I'll do a couple of before and after that show this. I'm trying to get a video capture program that will work on my linux system so I can do a video tutorial of this but so far I haven't had any luck finding one that works.


sleepylog profile image

sleepylog 3 years ago from Australia Author

So sorry mizjo, I forgot to answer your question. I don't think Gimp is Mac-compatible. It works on open-source and Windows OS. But the plug-ins don't all work with every version of Windows.


That Grrl profile image

That Grrl 3 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

I've read about how much they can do with air brushing techniques. This shows how professional photographers can really make a person look like a magazine cover. I thought it would be far more complicated to do that much.

Learning Gimp is on my to-do list. Has been for awhile. I've even got 2 books to review for Gimp. It's one of the things I've been looking forward to doing but there are so many other things ahead of it on the list.

Added a link to this post to Scoop.it - Creative Photography Ideas.


sleepylog profile image

sleepylog 3 years ago from Australia Author

Sounds like a long list, hehe. Thanks so much for the link, they're always appreciated :) I'm going to be adding a couple of ideas to it soon and I'll also be writing more Gimp tutorials in the near future.

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