While there are numerous photo-editing packages of various complexities and different price points, those that concentrate their expertise purely on the face are few and far between in number. One such product is Portrait Professional from Anthropics. This digital facial make-over tool is now up to version 11 and is available in a choice of Standard, Studio and Studio-64 versions with different price points to reflect the functionality of each product.
The standard version of Portrait Professional 11 provides features that include skin smoothing, face sculpting and the ability to enhance eye, mouth and hair elements along with support for JPEG and TIFF formats. The Studio product adds supports for RAW format plus the ability to read and write 48-bit colour TIFF files, batch capability and is available as a Photoshop plug-in. Not surprisingly Studio-64 has been optimised to work with a 64-bit operating system and places no limit on image size. This review is based on the Studio version of Portrait Professional.
As already mentioned this product has been designed specifically for facial enhancement whether you are using a full-face or profile view of your subject. Having said that, I found it easier, especially when first using the product, to use a full-face view as I got use to the product. A wizard-like process leads you through the initial steps of selecting your image, either using one of the supplied samples or an image from your own collection before making any adjustments. You will need to identify whether the subject image is female, male, girl or boy and in full-face or profile.
Various areas of the face (eyes, nose and mouth) will need to be pinpointed. This will allow the software to make a mask of the face shown as rather ugly purple lines. This mask will have anchor points allowing you to make various adjustments to its position and generally shape. There were occasional instances when I missed the ability to add some extra anchor points of my own to give me greater flexibility in adjusting the mask elements.
With the mask in place you can begin to work on an After view of the face which sits alongside a Before view. Running down the right side of the screen is a panel holding a series of controls that have been classified as providing Face Sculpt, Skin Smoothing, Eye, Mouth & Nose, Skin Colouring, Skin Lighting, Hair and Picture related options. As part of this panel there is a thumbnail view of the subject image with a bounding box that can be used to move around and focus on specific areas of the face. Along with this ability to move around the image, there is also a zoom slider plus buttons to automatically jump to a pre-defined Fit and Face view.
By selecting one of the previously mentioned facial control categories, you will open up a list of the various slider controls within that section. For example when selecting Skin Smoothing, there are sliders to adjust imperfections, thin wrinkles, fine shadows, remove pores and shine plus further sliders that deal with the area around the eyes. By switching to the Skin Colouring controls, there are sliders for auto white balance, auto exposure, temperature, tint, check colouring, balance hue and tan. As you adjust each slider, so a percentage figure will reflect the individual strength of that feature with alterations being made in real time.
For a more quick fix you get Touch Up and Restore brushes. These tools, which are located over the top of the After view, allow you to manually make adjustments to any part of the face, As you might expect, the Restore brush can undo any alterations made using the Touch Up brush that might not appeal. Slider bars are available to adjust the size and strength of each brush.
As each tool is selected so a dialogue box will appear providing brief description of its purpose. You can turn off this feature by clicking on a check box but this will need to be carried out individually for each tool.
While most facial elements are covered by this program, there was one notable omission. There was no tool designed to deal with beards. You do not have the option to tidy up or make alterations to this facial accessory. You could, however, remove “designer stubble” or “five o’clock shadow” if it was present.
As with the previous versions of this software, Portrait Profession allows you to make adjustments to whatever is there on your subject’s face. It does not, however, allow you to add features that might not be there. Therefore you can not add horns, a Pinocchio nose or taxi door ears to a subject you do not particularly like. It is a serious tool rather than one for hilarious purposes.
The software requires a 1GHz processor with 1GB of RAM and a 1024 x 600 resolution display running either Windows XP and later or Intel Mac OS X10.5 and later. As reviewed this product is priced at £63.99 although at the time of writing there is a special price offering of £31.95.
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