Portrait Professional 11

Jon Stapley tests the latest version of Portrait Professional photo-retouching software

FACIAL retouching is big business in portraiture, and aspiring portrait photographers will need to learn the basics and how to use the software to make it happen. Portrait Professional aims to provide both, with powerful skin-smoothing and facial-alteration technology combined with a preset and slider-focused approach that makes it easy even for the novice to get rid of blemishes, whiten teeth and even alter a subject’s facial structure.

HOW IT WORKS

Once you’ve input the gender and rough age of the subject, Portrait Pro detects the face and places markers denoting its dimensions. Once these are set, you enter the main editing screen. Groups of sliders control individual functions, such as fill-out lips, illuminate eyes or add colour to the cheeks. It’s all intuitive and very easily done.

The most work seems to have gone into the skin-smoothing functions. The user can control different types of skin imperfections — blemishes, wrinkles, pores — either with presets or specific sliders, and then fine-tune with the touch-up Brush tool. The presets are a little overzealous — a manual approach is better for subtler editing, and the user is able to precisely control how heavily blemishes are removed.

It is quite alarming how easily and dramatically one can resculpt a face with Portrait Professional. I experimented with thinning the face of my subject, reshaping the nose and altering the angle of the mouth, and found all of it easy to accomplish. If you so desire, you can practically transform your subject into a different person.

IMPRESSIONS

The face detection is decent, but not perfect. In one of my images the markers completely missed the model’s eyebrows, and the teeth and lip detection went rather awry. However, this is easy to rectify by dragging the markers to the correct points. I’d advise testing the face detection by moving some sliders to their maximum settings — the exaggerated effects will allow you to see whether the software has correctly set the feature boundaries.

The hair controls allow you to smooth and/or recolour the subject’s hair. The detection here isn’t quite so sharp — an image in which the subject’s hair was a similar colour to the background resulted in the entire street being coated in vivid red.

The software also features sliders to control exposure and white balance in the overall image. However, they work in a corrective capacity based off the skin tone, so if the software deems the skin to have been exposed and coloured correctly, they have absolutely no effect. For these kinds of adjustments, I’d recommend sticking with your imaging-editing software.

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