If you’re anything like me, you probably dread the amount of time you have to spend at the computer processing and working with photo files to create the desired effect and feeling in each image. This is especially true when it come to skin retouching, which can suck up tedious hours of intense and ridiculously exacting work. I’ve had many clients with less than perfect skin that needs some work. In fact, outside of professional models with high-priced makeup stylists, few people do have perfect skin. And like most readers, I’ve learned lots of tricks in Photoshop that can heal the skin, fix the spots, change the color, and soften the lines, and each one must be done separately. I’m not a professional retoucher, or even an expert Photoshop technician, but I do know what looks good and more important, what looks real. No Gaussian blur for me.
The great news is that with Portrait Professional from Anthropics Technology (www.portraitprofessional.com), a stand-alone software retouching program, I can save time, create fantastic images with wonderful skin tones, and reshape the structure of the face including width of the eyes, shape of the jaw, length of the neck, and even change eye color if the mood strikes me. My first impression of Portrait Professional is that this is a program that works extremely well and it’s fun and easy to use. Where has this program been? Actually, I just found out that it has been around since 2006, and that the current version is number 8. A few months ago, one of my students told me about it; a week later PHOTO Techniques called me and asked me to review it. And I’ve been having a blast. I used it right out of the box on several of the images from last issue’s digital lighting article.
The premise is very simple, although the program uses some complicated algorithms. When you open a photo, you choose Male or Female to set the default adjustments (which you can change later). The program then asks you to set points on-screen to outline the subject’s eyes, mouth, and nose (which are fine-tuned in the next step). This consists of moving and clicking on the edges of eyes, eyebrows, lips, nose, chin, and edges of face (Figure 1). Absolutely no specialized skill is required to do this.
What happens next is almost magical; after a few seconds for processing, the image appears with the skin cleaned up, eyes and teeth whitened, and most amazing of all, the shape of the face is re-sculpted in subtle ways (Figure 2). The basic default program choices are very good, and are not overdone. The program automatically can slim a wide face, shorten a high forehead, extend a stubby neck, and just slightly reshape a face into a more “pleasing” form (Figure 3).
The image still looks like the person—it isn’t some overdone idea of beauty—but just makes them look better. In many cases, no other adjustments are necessary. You can chose to either have both “before” and “after” images side by side, or just look at the “after” image, so it’s larger on the screen. A button on the top of the screen allows you to f lip between the two views as well. I f ind this incredibly handy because when you switch with this tab, you can immediately see what’s changed, and it’s easier to understand than the side-by-side view. You also have a zoom tool for examination of fine-detail.
There are several default settings to chose from: Drama and Glamour for both male and female, Glamour with No Sculpting, Face Slimming, and Improve Complexion. Next to that set of defaults are some specialty options such as turning eyes blue, brown, or green; removing wrinkles; adding saturation; sepia toning; lightening hair; reddening lips; and adding contrast. I’ve tried several of the presets and some work better than others. Drama increases contrast and seems to really smooth out the skin tone so it doesn’t look normal anymore. I tried it on both male and female and didn’t like the result with either (Figure 4).