For some photographers, retouching portraits in Photoshop is part of the fun. For others, especially pros working through large image sets from multiple portrait sittings, retouching can become a grinding chore. If manual retouching sounds like all work and no play, consider investing in software that specializes in streamlining common portrait corrections.
These apps take the heavy lifting out of the process by automatically creating masks and offering preset corrections to simplify enhancements like skin smoothing—great for beginners, but helpful for even experienced Photoshop users who want to speed up their workflows. Batch processing and the ability to save custom presets can dramatically reduce turnaround time for busy portrait studios.
Whether you’re a pro looking to expedite repetitive tasks, or a photographer who’d rather work with a camera than a keyboard, these applications will help you quickly create stunning portraits that your subjects will love. A downloadable demo version is available for each, so you can try before you buy.
One of the most popular portrait-focused applications, PortraitPro makes dramatic portrait enhancements (almost) completely automatic. Open your photo in PortraitPro, and the software identifies key facial features of your subjects, prompts you to select gender for each and adjusts its enhancements accordingly. After giving you the option to fine-tune its facial feature detection, the software smooths skin, removes blemishes, brightens eyes and teeth, and reshapes facial structures. It can even "relight" your subject for more pleasing highlights and shadows. All of these adjustments can then be manually controlled with simple sliders if you want to dial back or intensify the effects. PortraitPro can handle group portraits, too, allowing you to refine the look of each subject individually. Three editions are available: Standard is a stand-alone app, while the Studio and Studio Max versions also work as a plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom. List Price: From $39 (Standard). Contact: Anthropics PortraitPro, portraitprofessional.com.
ATHENTECH PERFECTLY CLEAR PLUG-INS 2.0
Though not strictly a portrait processor, Perfectly Clear 2.0 now includes the Beautify feature from the Perfectly Clear smartphone app. Upgraded for the desktop, Beautify makes 10 adjustments to your portraits, including basic enhancements like skin smoothing and shine removal to more dramatic changes like eye enlargement and face slimming. Beautify’s facial detection techniques identify age, gender and prominent facial features to help automate the process. In addition to its portrait-enhancement ability, Perfectly Clear also offers tools to improve photos of any subject, such as exposure, color and dynamic range corrections, noise reduction and intelligent sharpening. Available as a plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom; a stand-alone version is currently in beta. List Price: From $149. Contact: Athentech Imaging, athentech.com.
Portrait+ 3.0 is another highly automated portrait retoucher that uses face-detection technology to identify up to 30 faces in a photo and set anchor points that target adjustments to key facial features. You can adjust these points for each individual in the photo. Ten presets range from light retouching and skin smoothing to more dramatic changes including face reshaping. Each of these presets can be edited to create your own presets by fine-tuning the effects via sliders. Batch processing lets you open a series of photos, which you can work on individually or apply your adjustments to all photos in the batch, speeding up retouching for multiple shots from a portrait session. Available as a stand-alone application or as a plug-in for Photoshop. List Price: $79 (plug-in); $179 (stand-alone). Contact: ArcSoft, arcsoft.com.
DIGITAL ANARCHY BEAUTY BOX PHOTO
In addition to powerful, automatic skin tone and texture corrections, Beauty Box Photo includes more than 30 preset styles from subdued to wild. Beauty Box does an excellent job of automatically masking skin tones, but if it misses, you can manually adjust the mask by simply clicking on your subject’s skin. Slider controls let you refine the software’s effects by choosing how much detail to retain, the intensity of sharpening and the amount of shine (hot spots) to smooth out. You can also adjust hue, saturation and brightness, either globally or by confining those adjustments to the mask area. Among the presets are color and exposure effects if you’re looking to create a highly stylized portrait. Available as a plug-in for Photoshop and Aperture. List Price: $99. Contact: Digital Anarchy, digitalanarchy.com.
EVER IMAGING BEAUTUNE
Beautune takes a hands-on approach to portrait enhancement, similar to what you might do if manually retouching in Photoshop, but with tools specifically created for each step, organized into four categories—Face, Eyes, Mouth and Advanced—to keep the interface clean and suggest a workflow. Select an enhancement and "paint" the effect onto your subject. Most of the tools can be adjusted for both size and intensity of the effect. In addition to the typical portrait fixes like skin smoothing and blemish removal, there are makeup tools to add foundation, eyeliner and shadow, lip tint and more. The Advanced tools include a defocus brush for softening the background, photo frames and Instagram-like color-effect filters. List Price: $29. Contact: Everimaging, everimaging.com.
Rather than identifying facial featu
res by shapes and anchor points, Portraiture creates a mask by examining color and isolating skin tone. You can adjust this mask manually by varying the color range, feathering, opacity and more. Compared to other automatic portrait enhancement software, Portraiture‘s effects are restrained. It’s easy to go overboard with many portrait fixes, but even the strongest skin smoothing preset in Portraiture appeared subtle and natural, retaining some skin texture details. There are also presets for high-key and low-key looks. In addition to detail smoothing, you can apply sharpness, softness, warmth and other exposure corrections, either globally or to the skin tone mask areas only. Available as a plug-in for Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture. List Price: $199. Contact: Imagenomic, imagenomic.com.
ONONE PERFECT PORTRAIT 9
Available on its own or as part of onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite 9, Perfect Portrait includes all of the essential tools you need to smoothen skin, reduce shine, add warmth, and brighten eyes and teeth. It also incorporates a smart retouching brush that makes it easy to quickly remove spot blemishes. Several presets are available, which you can adjust with slider controls to create your own. Perfect Portrait can identify multiple faces in an image to handle group portraits, and while it does a good job of identifying facial features automatically, you can easily adjust its masks. One especially nice feature is the option to save all adjustments to a duplicate layered Photoshop (PSD) file with Perfect Portrait’s enhancements on their own layer, leaving your original untouched. List Price: $59 (Perfect Portrait 9); $149 (Perfect Photo Suite 9 Premium). Contact: onOne Software, ononesoftware.com.
Reallusion FaceFilter3 PRO
FaceFilter3 PRO is another app that uses face detection to identify where to mask adjustments. When you import an image, the software automatically detects features, then walks you through adjusting its selections for eyes, nose, mouth and facial contour. The software’s workflow is divided into six steps. After importing and adjusting the face-detection anchors, you progress through adjustments that add "Makeover" effects, such as applying skin foundation and eye makeup. Next, you move on to face reshaping, if desired, then on to global image effects like adding a vignette, adjusting color balance and similar exposure settings. The final step gives you the option to export as a JPEG or TIFF with selected enhancements applied. List Price: $79. Contact: Reallusion, reallusion.com.