If you’re an aspiring professional retoucher you’ve most likely been left scratching your head, pondering the question, ‘should I invest in plug-in software?’
Firstly, there’s the matter of money, with some types more cost effective than other, but start-up capital isn’t always readily available.
Secondly, and more importantly, there’s the matter of production. Namely, how a plug-in enhances the quality of the images you produce.
When encountering software like Portrait Professional Studio 64, which promises an ultimately fast, easy photo editing experience with the highest quality touch up, your interest is bound to peek.
There is one constant in the retouch business and that is time equals money, so Portrait Professional Studio 64 seems like a great investment.
What you get for your buck with Portrait Professional Studio 64 is an easily acclimatised interface and driven functionality, which ultimately speeds up the entire retouch process. Upon firing up the plug-in you’re asked to open your start image then prompted to determine the gender of your model. Subsequent options follow in the same vein.
Portrait Professional Studio 64 will ask you to map out your model’s face in the Locate Features options – easily done by quickly dragging and dropping selectors on to key facial areas. Here, the plug-in works it’s magic, effectively determining improvements automatically. Make a mistake and just click the back button to start over.
We will warn you not to take too long deliberating over the following Adjust Outline options. Portrait Professional Studio 64 operates here much like Photoshop Paths, targeting eye, eyebrow and mouth regions. Selections are manipulated through point controls, but for best results just tweak regions that are drastically out of sync.
Trust the plug-in to automate skin refinement and tweak facial contour, and default settings return impressive results. But of course customisation is abundant with Portrait Professional Studio 64 – more than we anticipated actually. Seven categories are made available, including Face Sculpt, Skin, Eye, Mouth & Nose, Hair, Skin Lighting, and Picture.
Each drops to provide specific option sets, controlled through simple sliders. These will appeal to photographers and retouchers who work extensively in Camera RAW. More dedicated Photoshop users may be apprehensive, always preferring hands-on application. You needn’t be, as Portrait Professional Studio 64 has already isolated affected areas, so editing becomes meticulous.
There were several categorise that really grabbed our attention. Most importantly the Skin Controls. We discovered that it was easy to over egg edits here, so the subtle application of sliders were key. Moderately increased Skin Smoothing augmented default settings. Combining with the Remove Pores slider and Texture controls produced commercial looks.
Spot removal was also highly intuitive, with Portrait Professional Studio 64 applying effects through strength levels – from ‘1 Only Prominent Spots’ up to ’10 Maximum Sensitivity’. We recommend setting to ‘6 Medium Sensitivity’, working out more noticeable artefacts with the responsive Touch Up Brush tools.
Admittedly the plug-in isn’t freckle friendly, but if you’re looking to remove these, along with spots and wrinkles you’ll find results extremely satisfying. Portrait Professional Studio 64 takes customisation even further by supplying masking options with Skin and Hair controls. Here you can extend or cut back applied-to regions, determined through Brush Size and Detector (density) Size Area Brushes.
We were especially impressed with the way these interacted with a model’s hair – targeting is quicker than we’d experienced with Alpha Channel and Refine Edge application, which are standard practice with Photoshop users. Those who love to work with detail will likewise be impressed with the Eye controls. An essential focal area of any portrait, you can target and effects sharpens, colour, intensity, size and density of the pupil, and much more.
Throw in the ability to reshape facial contour i.e. increase neck size for added elegance, eye size (if a little temperamental in angled shots), and redefine jaw outlines to create a slim or full look, and you’ve an entire gamut of essential edits at your disposal.
So should you invest in this plug-in software? That depends on you, the user. If you try to fill in the blanks left behind in your technical skills, we’d say educate yourself further. This software is simple to apply, easy to abuse. But it will complement the preproduction workflow of those who understand the requirements of a good retouch. Portrait Professional Studio 64 is also a wonderful solution for commercial photographers who want to simply push fantastic photo looks that extra mile.