By Neil Bennett | on February 09, 2009
Pros: Outstanding automated skin smoothing function; can output to separate layer.
Cons: Layers don’t output properly on Smart Objects.
This review is taken from our group test of Photoshop CS4 plug-ins.
Retouching skin blemishes, make-up imperfections and the effects of strong lighting is a laborious process that – unless you’re a full-time retouch artist – can eat into the time you want to spend being creative on a project. Portraiture is a plug-in that automates skin smoothing and blemish removal – and it’s one that most digital artists will want to get their hands on, as it’s powerful, effective, and full of nifty extra functions.
When you first apply the plug-in, it scans the image to establish which areas are skin tones, then smoothes these to hide imperfections. For many images that’s all you’ll need to do, as it does an excellent job without manual tweaking. It had no problem with different types of skin tones – and was capable even with troublesome images (as above right and below).
If you want to fine-tune the results, there’s a small number of powerful controls available to you. The presets give you quick access to smoothing, or lighting effects based on the Enhancements panel. You can also create your own presets, for example tuned to a particular model’s skin colour under set lighting, which you can use to batch process a whole shoot.
You alter what Portraiture considers to be skin tones using the Skin Tones Mask panel, which includes an eyedropper and other controls. These are linked to a Mask Preview window, which shows which areas will be smoothed. The plug-in scans all areas of your image, so will likely pick up other areas in your picture as skin tones, but as Portraiture can output the changed pixels with a transparency mask as a separate layer in Photoshop, you can quickly erase them back
in the main tool.
Portraiture works in 8-bit and 16-bit RGB modes, and as a Smart Object, but we did find a bug when outputting a masked layer on a Smart Object.
Supported hosts: Photoshop CS2-CS4, Aperture (in beta), Lightroom (due soon)