I’m sure you’ve seen the banner ad at some point. I’ve seen it on flickr, and even RAW on some occasions. You know the one with the dramatic before and after shot.
I’m sure you’ve looked at it at some point and thought “yeah it isn’t going to work like that” or “it’s more of a one trick pony and will only work on certain faces” well I’m going to run through my findings like I always do. My version is Portrait Professional v10 Studio edition.
I was skeptical, I really thought that this program would do a really bad job and be completely useless. Well I was wrong. The first time I tried it the program lived up to my initial thoughts. However that was completely my fault since I didn’t completely understand how and what the program could do.
A week later I had a perfect candidate to test it out. I had just completed a simple portrait session and I thought to myself it would be the perfect opportunity to test the program out again. I call it a program because it can be used as a standalone or as I use it as an Aperture 3 plugin (studio version only).
I loaded it up followed the prompts, took care in aligning the points and waited for it to generate. There was an instant wow factor about the image, that actually bought a smile to my face. All the tedious tasks like whitening the eyes and teeth had been completed for me. On the left had side each element of the face is categorised allowing you to go in and further alter the image to suite. Most of my time is spent widening an eye so it’s roughly the same as the other, however there are controls for jaw lines, foreheads, you name it and you can probably alter it through the available sliders. It was at this point that I realised the true power of this plugin.
I want to bring special attention to a great little feature I discovered during that first proper play with Portrait Professional, and that is the “Off” buttons. They sit next to each category and you can toggle them, as the name suggests on and off. Sometimes I don’t want to do any major facial transformations, it just want the teeth and eyes dealt with. I simply turn of all the other categories and those settings are removed.
Aside from the usual skin controls that you would expect they have a handy little “Touch up” brush. This is a life saver when working on skin. It’s so much easier to work then the usual Retouch/Clone tool in Aperture 3. It really is a cool little brush that can fix most blemishes that I have come across.
You might think that it will only work with directly straight on portraits. That is not true, during the initial stage where you select the points of the face it determines the direction of the face and calculates everything from there. There has only been one situation where it didn’t work that well but that was an extreme case.
How do I use it?
Well it is very rarely that I use the full power of the program itself, the main controls I deal with are usually the eyes, hair and skin controls. It has some great little features for easily whitening the eyes removing those fly away hairs and fixing skin blemishes and wrinkles.
I have on occasion used the face sculpt tools which allowed me to align the eyes sculpt the jaw line and alter some other facial features like the mouth and nose. However use this sparingly as in some cases it can actually make the face look too fake.
Is it worth getting?
I would say yes. I find that once you understand how all the controls work it’s actually very customisable and if used correctly can actually help speed up your workflow on certain images.
It is worth mentioning that it doesn’t have any body sculpt controls, so if you are wanting to fix a bump in a leg or whatever (use your imagination) this program/plugin won’t help you. However the features that it provides for developing the face are really great to use.
Check out Portrait Professional it might just help you out a little.