Anthropics PortraitPro 22
As with Version 21, a lot depends on the original image the software has to work with. We found images that are correctly exposed and relatively simple in composition normally respond well to the automatic adjustments, as they did in the previous version.
Improvements to the user interface are welcome, although some tools still require fine-tuning to make them more reliable and useful.
Integration of the two Studio editions with popular image editors like Photoshop and Lightroom is virtually seamless, and batch processing functions are easy to use.
We’ve been following the development of Anthropics’ Portrait Professional software since 2013 when we reviewed the 11th edition of the application. This was followed up with reviews of the 12th edition and then of PortraitPro 21 so when we were offered the latest edition – PortraitPro 22 – we were keen to see what new features it contained. Like edition 21, PortraitPro 22 makes extensive use of ‘artificial intelligence’ and relies a lot on AI face detection.
Some of the ‘Glamorous’ presets in the latest version of PortraitPro.
As usual, PortraitPro is designed to make retouching portrait photographs to a ‘professional’ standard as straightforward as possible by speeding up image recognition and identifying features that can benefit from selective improvement. The in-built image processing algorithms have been developed to detect and correct common problems like:
1. Skin and hair irregularities such as cracked lips, spots, wrinkles, dull or unruly hair, and stray hairs.
2. Lighting irregularities that include unwanted hot-spots, unattractive colour biases, poorly-placed shadows and distracting backgrounds.
3. Colour issues associated with saturation, contrast and distracting colours and patterns as well as dyed hair that shows different colours in the roots and ends and large discoloured areas of skin associated with birth marks, age spots and dense freckling.
Who’s it For?
PortraitPro’s main target market is ‘glamour’ photographers, largely because, as the developers claim, it has been ‘trained in human beauty’ – whatever that means. From what we’ve gathered through using the software’s last couple of versions, this application provides a quick and easy way to achieve the ‘looks’ seen in advertising and magazines.
Fortunately, most of the controls in the latest version are quite subtle, which is an improvement on the earliest versions we tried. This makes it easier to obtain natural-looking results with most images.
Like its predecessor, PortraitPro 22 is available for Windows and MacOS computers and comes in three editions. The Standard edition is affordable for everyday users and provides all the tools most people will need if they only plan to work on JPEG and/or TIFF files. The Studio and Studio Max versions are designed for commercial users and provide most of the same functions, although batch processing is faster and more efficient in the Studio Max version.
The table below compares the three editions.
|Free online support||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Fully automatic age and gender detection||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Enhance hair, eyes and mouth||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|3D lighting effects||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Unlimited customisable presets||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Enhance more than one person in a photo||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Read & write JPEG and TIFF format||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|No limit on image size||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Works as a Photoshop plug-in with Smart Filter capability||No||Yes||Yes|
|Works as an external editor with Lightroom||No||Yes||Yes|
|Read camera RAW format||No||Yes||Yes|
|Read Adobe DNG format||No||Yes||Yes|
|Read & write TIFFs with 16 bits/colour sample||No||Yes||Yes|
|Read & write PNGs with 16 bits/colour sample||No||Yes||Yes|
|Conversion between different colour spaces||No||Yes||Yes|
|Setting monitor and working colour spaces||No||Yes||Yes|
|JPEG and TIFF embedded colour profile support||No||Yes||Yes|
|Batch dialog to speed workflow||No||Yes||n.a.|
|Full Batch mode to greatly speed workflow||No||n.a.||Yes|
One of the best features of the software is the degree of control it provides. The slider adjustments provided for most functions provide a high degree of control over how much adjustment is applied.
When quick adjustments are needed, users can also access pre-set adjustments for different purposes: Standard, Glamorous and Subtle. User-created collections of adjustments can also be saved as ‘My Preset’ files for applying the same adjustments to a collection of image files.
What’s New – and how well do these functions work?
The latest edition introduces slimming adjustments for subjects’ chins, neck and shoulder regions. The face sculpting slider enables users to apply and refine the shape of the lower part of the face to slim the cheeks and chin. Adjustments are also available to widen and expand the eyes, adjust the mouth shape and plump the lips, change the nose, slim the neck and shoulders, correct wide angle lens distortions and tilt the subject’s head forwards to reduce a prominent chin.
Some of the adjustments provided in the face sculpting group of adjustments: top screen grab shows the effect of the Face Shape slider; lower screen grab shows the addition of the Head Forward slider. Note the automatic application of skin smoothing and blemish removal, which is quite subtle.
Tools for adjusting lighting include global and local controls, the latter providing adjustable brush sizes and intensity, which are an extension of the lighting brushes provided in the previous edition of PortraitPro. The brushes make small changes unless pushed to their limits. They can be used for adding contrast and exposure intensity as well as changing the light source colour and angle on half- and full-length portraits.
The global (top) and local (below) lighting adjustment tools.
New hair finder adjustments includes controls that can be used for hairline correction with sliders for quickly lowering (or raising) hairlines and adding volume to the subject’s hair. The shape of a wearer’s glasses can also be fixed if it has been distorted by the shooting angle or angle of view of the lens.
Hairline adjustment combined with hair smoothing and volume adjustment.
Additions to the digital make-up choices include new lipstick colours with the ability to select ‘only conventional’ colours for more conservative subjects and apply lipstick in a range of realistic textures. These adjustments have generally been based on years of research into cosmetics use, so they usually produce good results.
Lipstick adjustments have been extended to provide more choices.
The make-up options also enable users to: enhance eyes with false eyelashes, eyeliner, eye-shadow and mascara and apply highlighter and bronzer to contour the face and/or blusher to give a natural glow or create dramatic high-fashion styles.
The control panel for applying make-up to subjects’ eyes is outlined in red in this screen grab.
The background replacement function – an extension of the Sky Replacement tool in PortraitPro 21 – has been improved and works well in most situations, although the algorithms for detecting what is and isn’t background can’t always distinguish them in areas with fine detail. Mask Edit tools are provided for refining the selection, as shown in the screen grab below.
The Mask Edit tools are shown in the toolbar to the right of the image.
There’s also a new selection of background replacement images to choose from, as shown in the screen grab below, along with an example of a new background being selected.
The Find Detail control can be used for ‘brushing in’ details that were missed by the original masking. It works better with easily-detected details – and can sometimes over-select an area so it must be used with care. Fine hairs, and similar items, take a lot of brushing over to bring up and may not be effectively revealed.
Using the Find Detail control.
The special Child mode includes pre-sets designed for use on children’s portraits, which require very little retouching and a much more subtle hand. Its main focus is on natural retouching such as enhancing eyes and smiles.
The presets in the Child mode apply minimal adjustments to ensure natural-looking results. It’s worth noting the food stains on the child’s face were not removed, indicating the light application of adjstments.
Most of the remaining tools are largely unchanged, although Anthropics says it has made general UI and speed improvements. PortraitPro’s interface has always been relatively clean and easy to use as well as reasonably fast. The main criticisms we have of the latest edition are:
1. We’d like a quick ‘undo’ function that was always readily available via a button on the workspace screen – or something similar – instead of users having to resort to the top control panel. That would provide more scope for experimentation and encourage users to try new effects.
- We’d also like to see additional brush controls for ‘painting on’ or ‘cutting back’ density and applying colours. Size adjustments are fine as they are, but intensity adjustments could do with some extension. Other functions like adjustments to skin, hair and clothing could also benefit from some additional local fine-tuning that is under the user’s control.
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RRP: AU$79.95 (Standard)
- Features: 8.8
- Ease of use: 8.8