Thursday, June 26, 2014

Portrait+ - I've Got You Under My Skin

A Review of Portrait+

As a busy headshot photographer in New York City, and working with many great looking but young actors and models over the past 15+ years, doing custom in-house retouching has been one of the most challenging areas. I'd have to say that I believe Portrait+ represents a real breakthrough in automated airbrushing.
Arcsoft, Inc has collected many of the most common, time consuming and thankless retouching tasks involved in headshot retouching and make rather quick work of them. (I should make a note that I was only able to test the standalone version - I'm sure that the plug in offers some additional functionality.) 
 If you do this sort of work, and time is money, The low price of Portrait+ can pay for itself quickly. Plus there's a limited time discount code at the bottom of the post.
At the high level of detail required to retouch headshots at high resolutions, Portrait+ doesn't usually do the entire job for me automatically, but it can still save an unbelievable amount of time getting me an unimagined head start over where I'd be without it. The most outstanding feature is "Skin Smoothing " which has entirely been a slow manual process for me up to this point. Wiki answers says there's 20000 pores on the human face. If you've been  retouching skin manually in-house like I have, you'd probably agree it feels like more... Any help in this area is extremely welcome and well targeted in my opinion. Amazing on it's own but it becomes much more efficient with some powerful recognition features which enable it to recognize faces and avoid the details that you'd commonly want to retain unsmoothed. It can do what would be a few hours of smoothing work in seconds. 

This featured street fashion session from 04 shot with a D100 was somewhat difficult,  because I loved hundreds of the images of this beautiful model but the models fine hairs ovelrapped some tiny red blemishes on her cheeks making for extremely laborious retouching. The recognition in Portrait+ seemed to be doing well with this scenario - so I actually batch processed with "Skin Smoothing", "Remove Eye Circles". The latter were sometimes touched up a bit in after Photoshop. There are incredible potentials here.

 Portrait+ does a very impressive job of smoothing regulated by slider so that skin retains a natural texture, and tonality. The algorithm can be surprisingly, accurate, gentle and graceful. For certain types of images you can get use Portrait+ to get very close to a finished result. If it's a bit off, the end result can be seamlessly recombined with the original when desired to maintain integrity. The basic problem is that you still need to err on the side of caution so you'll still have touch ups and polishing - if you push Portrait+ too far your subjects will look like they are made of plastic.Portrait+ ranges from fair to excellent at recognizing facial features, and avoiding the details of the eyes nose and mouth when smoothing.

For high detail work further scrutiny and adjustment is usually required
The feature recognition view allows you to see what's been recognized and to make adjustments with a wireframe and points. I'd say it's excellent at detecting eyes. As it stands, It's very accurate straight on overall but runs into some trouble with faces in profile.
It's still pretty good at finding the eyes but once it confuses profile for straight on it begins getting a little quirky with brows and lips. The brow recognition appears to be hinged to the eye rather than an independent recognition of the brow and will sometimes miss the brow completely on a profile. The recognition is both amazing but also needs some more development
The blemish tool is ok but it's hit or miss. You can't choose the source. I'd rather use PS to solve more isolated specific issues.
There are some fun, cool makeup tools for eye shadow, eyelashes and lipstick - better used on a case by case basis - these are also potentially problematic for batching. 
Remove Shine is effective and often necessary especially under studio lights - works very nicely. Whiten teeth works well, too - even when the lip recognition is somewhat incorrect. Both are very useful.
Using the Skin Area View often shows a better view of the shortcomings of the recognition: it has some trouble with hair and most often includes some hair and some background. It's adjustable, but the standalone tools are a little clunky. Luckily this seems to cause only minimal visible problems with skin smoothing due to a very gentle advanced algorithm but it is probably doing some unwanted stuff in those areas. If you add some of the other options like "skin color", you can start to run into some trouble because you'll be coloring parts of the hair and background.

There's a nice feature to remove under eye circles which is smooth and can work well, however I ran into a some aberrations with this, and I usually augment the results by hand. Where a profile face is confused for straight on the filter will add skin color anywhere such as over hair... Similar to the brow, the under eye circle recognition is not directly assessed, but estimated based on where it believes the eye is so when it thinks a profile is straight on, all bets are off. I also wish it had a slider for intensity and a wireframe for more precision. 

Portrait+ also has an arsenal of other interesting features that I probably wouldn't use as often but could be very useful on occasion like" Slim face", etc.And - If all that functionality insn't enough - Arcsoft, Inc has graciously offered a 45% discount to my readers for any product from ArcSoft's official website

Click here to get Portrait+ @ Arcsoft

Coupon Code: Portrait45
 the Coupon Code will expire July 30, 2014