Touching Up

Retouching a portrait usually takes several steps in Photoshop to make a well-exposed image effectively stand out. Pros use techniques like cloning, burning and dodging; various filters; and localized color enhancements with layer masks to get a stunning portrait. It’s a fine art that takes a lot of practice. Luckily for those who want great results without the learning curve, these applications will give your portraits a professional look quickly and easily. And when you need to do some elaborate masking, we’ve got a plug-in for that, too.

Alien Skin Image Doctor 2

Alien Skin’s Image Doctor 2 features tools to help you restore old photos, re-touch portraits, and remove any unwanted objects from your /images.

To use the plug-in’s Skin Softener effect to remove skin blemishes, you’ll first make a selection using the various selection tools in Photoshop (see sidebar) to constrain the filter’s effects to the problem areas. The interface provides two different slider controls: Contract/Expand Selection to increase or decrease your selection; and Soften Amount to control the intensity of the softening effect, which eliminates blemishes in your selected areas.

Another tool in the Image Doctor’s bag, Smart Fill, helps you remove unwanted objects by replacing pixels in your selected area with pixels sampled from the surrounding areas, or a specific area of your choosing—great for removing litter from a street scene, for example. The Image Doctor 2 plug-in is available for both Mac and Windows. List Price: $199.

Imagenomic Portraiture 2

Portraiture 2 is a powerful masking tool that helps you refine your /images to get rid of unwanted blemishes and to smooth details. It features a Skin Tones Mask tool that lets you apply Auto-Mask for automatic correction, but also gives you manual control through sliders with fine control over colors, opacity, feathering and luminance.

The Detail Smoothing tool offers separate slider controls for large, medium and small areas of contrast, making it easy to apply different levels of smoothing for different types of details. Use this tool to remove blemishes while preserving details like hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, for example. It also dynamically adjusts the amount of the effect based on the size of your image.

The Enhancements controls allow you to enhance your portrait’s sharpness, warmth, brightness and contrast without blowing highlights or muddying the shadows. The Warmth slider is particu-larly helpful for subtle en-hancements to the color tone of your subject’s skin.

You can use Portraiture 2 in a batch process to apply the same corrections to an entire set of /images automatically. Portraiture 2 is available for Photoshop (Windows and Mac); there’s also a version for Apple Aperture, which is in beta at the time of this writing. List Price: $199.

Portrait Professional v8

Portrait Professional v8 is a stand-alone application that takes troubled portraits, and in just a few minutes, can literally reshape the face of your model. This smart software works with data from hundreds of models to make intelligent corrections that subtly enhance the facial features of your subjects.

Portrait Professional v8 has a “Mark-Up” stage, where you identify points of the face and tell the program if you’re working on a male or female. Once this is completed, you can begin the retouching process—slider controls and brushes help you smooth skin, enhance eyes and teeth, remove blemishes and correct lighting.

The most innovative tool is Face Sculpt, a slider that lets you manipulate the actual shape of your subject, allowing you to adjust the size of the head, nose, etc.—particularly useful for correcting minor distortions caused by wide-angle lenses. You can even correct multiple subjects in a single image. Version 8 adds new features to thicken and recolor hair and enhance lips. Windows and Mac. List Price: $79.

Vertus Fluid Mask 3

For complex image retouching that requires a lot of masking, Vertus Fluid Mask 3 makes this chore much faster and easier. The Photoshop plug-in assesses your image and finds the edges automatically. All you have to do is choose which areas you want to keep or leave out of the final mask, using a variety of brushes and markers to add or remove areas as small as the space between strands of hair. List Price: $149.


Alien Skin Software (888) 921-SKIN
Portrait Professional (971) 238-0917
Vertus (877) 440-8787

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