Retouch4me Portrait Retouching Plug-ins

      Photo Review 8.8

      In summary

      A set of 12 plug-ins for Photoshop, Lightroom and Capture One that uses AI processing to speed up common retouching tasks, supported by a free file organiser.

      Full review

      Retouch4me is a series of software applications, developed in Tallinn, Estonia in 2020, for one specific purpose: speeding up portrait retouching. There are 12 plug-ins in the suite, each designed to achieve a specific task. Compatible with recent Windows and Mac computers, they can be installed in popular professional image editors like Adobe’s Photoshop and Lightroom and also in Capture One. The software can also be used as a stand-alone app for Windows and OS X.

      The Retouch4me website provides the primary interface between the developer company and potential customers.

      The plug-ins were developed by Oleg Sharonov, who also created the 3D LUT Creator tool for professional colour grading and result from eight years of photo retouching experience plus  two years of studying deep learning and neural networks. The AI functions included in the plug-ins have been trained on professionally-retouched photos, some submitted by the local community.

      Aside from a couple of ‘freebies’ – the Arams workflow manager, the Photoshop plug-in  panel,  the plug-in for frequency separation in Photoshop and the colour match LUT plug-in that connects to the cloud – each plug-in, aside from the more expensive Clean Backdrop plug-in (US$149), is sold separately  for US$93 (~AU$138). To purchase the entire set you’d be investing well over AU$1500.

      Fortunately, some plug-ins overlap in functionality so even a busy professional retoucher won’t need them all. That’s the benefit of the individual pricing policy.

      Who’s it For?
      While some enthusiastic portrait photographers may be interested in a few of the individual plug-ins, it’s unlikely you’d need the entire suite, even if your main source of income involves portrait photography and you’re already spending a lot of time on retouching. Wedding and event photographers fall into this category, as do school photographers and businesses that specialise in photographing sporting teams and individual ‘stars’.

      Tasks like smoothing out skin blemishes, subduing wrinkles in faces and fabrics, whitening and brightening eyes and teeth and cleaning up backgrounds can largely be dealt with automatically by the dedicated plug-ins. They could therefore improve overall speed of your workflow.

      If you use the software as a stand-alone app you’ll be reliant on the AI-based processing, which is largely automatic. Therefore, for batch processing, consistency in setting up the lighting, exposure levels and how sitters are posed will determine the outcome’s success.

      Batch processing can save time by allowing a folder containing multiple images to be processed in the background while the user attends to other tasks. For a business in which time is money, this is a major advantage.

      When the plug-ins are accessed via Photoshop or Lightroom, the software creates a new layer for each adjustment – and each layer is individually adjustable. The panels on the right side of the workspace let you keep track of each plug-in you use, as shown in the screen grab below.

      When a plug-in is used in Photoshop, the software creates a new adjustable layer, as shown outlined in red in the screen grab above.

      This won’t happen when the software is used in stand-alone format or if you opt to process the file in the Cloud, as shown in the screen grab below, even if you have opened the file originally in Photoshop.

      New layers are not created when files are processed in the Cloud.

      The stand-alone format workspace within the project window supports a few adjustments – but they’re pretty basic. You can click on the Preview button (outlined in green) to display the automatically-created mask, as shown below.

      A toolbar along the top of the screen allows you to increase or decrease the area covered by the mask, as shown in the green-circled areas on the screen grabs below.

      There are also four tools aligned vertically below the ‘Original’ button, but we found they didn’t appear to make much in the way of noticeable – or controllable – changes to the image.

      Installing and activating the software must be done on an individual plug-in basis, which can be time-consuming if you purchase several plug-ins. If you have Photoshop open on your workspace, it should be closed down and any demo versions of the plug-ins should be uninstalled.

      You’ll need to set up a personal account on the Retouch4me website and log in. This brings up the details of all the various plug-ins, both free and paid-for, allowing you to download the installers for each of the plug-ins you select for the operating system of your choice.

      It takes a minute or so to collect the data and get it ready for downloading so you should allow time for the process, particularly if you’re installing several plug-ins. Before installing any of the plug-ins you should first install the Photoshop Panel, which is free and will be located in the Plug-ins menu in Photoshop.

       Windows users will probably find Windows Defender blocks the installation, as shown in the left panel above.  Click on the More info tab to switch to manual mode then click on the ‘Run anyway’ tab (outlined in red on the right panel) to start the installation. From that point you can follow the sequence of steps in what is a fairly standard installation procedure.

      This routine is followed for every plug-in you install and, sadly, it doesn’t end there, as you can see from the screen grabs above. The first time you access the plug-in you’re required to log-in to Retouch4me and input your email and password. Then you’re required to activate the software. Once that is done, however, the plug-in is yours to use indefinitely.

      How they Work
      Most of the plug-ins work by scanning the image to identify ‘problem’ areas and creating a mask that enables the software to adjust only those areas, according to the local density of the mask while leaving the rest of the image untouched.  So, selecting the Skin Mask plug-in will show you the screen below, with only the skin areas available for editing in a separate layer.

      Often the masks are quite subtle, as shown in the two screen grabs below, the top one showing the mask selected for the Mattifier plug-in and the other the image from which it was created.

      The results can be quite subtle as shown in the before (left) and after (right) images below.

      Original photograph by Jurica Koletić, sourced from

       We found different plug-ins work better with different types of images, as you can see in the Samples section below. You may need to try several out to find which one(s) work best with different types of portraits.

      Occasionally, a plug-in will make a much greater adjustment than you think is needed. This is to be expected when the software is designed to handle a broad range of subject types, with skin textures ranging from velvet-smooth to wrinkled and skin colours from very dark to very pale.

      In our experience the Dodge and Burn, White Teeth, Eye Brilliance and Eye Vessels plug-ins were most likely to need some pulling back. The screen grabs below show examples of excessive adjustments, where we had to reduce the White Teeth plug-in by 50% and the two Eyes adjustments to about 20% of their strength.

      The top screen grab shows the effects produced by the two Eyes plug-ins and the White Teeth plug-in at full strength, while the lower one shows the improvements made by pulling them back somewhat.

      Before and after results show the improvements that can be made with the Retouch4me plug-ins.

      This is one reason why consistency is vital whenever you rely on batch processing, which would be the case with school and club portrait shooters. When working on individual images, the best results will be obtained when you use the plug-ins from an editor that supports layers adjustments because they will allow you to fine-tune the changes made by the plug-in.

      The Plug-ins
      Retouch4Me currently offers 12 plug-ins, targeting specific tasks. Examples of their use are provided for those we tried, in each case with the un-retouched image on the left and the retouched image with the plug-in applied at full strength on the right.

      Heal: Fixes minor skin defects, such as blemishes, pimples, post-acne marks and enlarged pores.

      An interesting result which illustrates the relatively ‘light’ touch of the software. The Heal plug-in has eliminated the blemishes on the subject’s forehead and the dark moles on her chest and slightly suppressed the freckles without eliminating them. Photograph by: gabriel-silverio-u3WmDyKGsrY-unsplash

      Mattifier: Tones down highlights on the skin.

      This example shows how successful the Mattifier plug-in can be at suppressing the sheen caused by lights reflecting off oily skin. As well as eliminating the sheen, the subject’s skin has also been very subtly smoothed to deliver a more attractive end result.


      Dodge&Burn: Smoothes problem skin areas, such as prominent creases that extend from each side of the nose to the ends of the lips, bags under the eyes, uneven skin textures, veiny hands and feet and unflattering shadows and highlights.

      In this example the plug-in has done exactly what it promised: smoothing out wrinkles and evening up the tone and texture of the subject’s skin without eliminating the ‘character lines’. Compare it with the example below to see the importance of choosing the right plug-in for the task. Image by on Freepik.

      Skin Tone: Evens out the skin tone by automatically identifying an average skin tone and adjusting the skin to match that colour.

      Using the same image as we used above with the Skin Tone plug-in resulted in minimal changes. The wrinkles beneath the subject’s eyes were toned back a little and the cheeks were made a little less red. The overall result would be ‘acceptable’ but not as good as the result from using the Dodge & Burn plug-in. Image by on Freepik.

      Portrait Volumes: Adds modelling to portraits by lightening and darkening of different areas of the image.

      Another example showing how the plug-in does exactly what it promises but in a very subtle way, adding ‘modelling’ to the subject’s face to make it appear a little more three-dimensional. Image by Freepik.

      Eye Vessels: Removes enlarged blood vessels and redness from the eyes. Eye Brilliance: Automatically detects the eyes in the photo and retouches them by dodging and burning.

      We’ve applied both plug-ins to this image – Eye Vessels and Eye Brilliance – because they’re often used together. Note how well the software has ‘cleaned up’ the subject’s eyes, removing the yellow tone and suggestions of blood vessels from the whites and making the pupils stand out more with clearer, cleaner colour.

      Dust: Detects small particles and dust on objects and surfaces and removes them. (Not tried)

      White Teeth: Creates an ultra-white smile.

      This is the one case where we felt the software went overboard and, although the result doesn’t look unnatural, those teeth are just a little too white to be true. It would have been better to pull back on the density of the layer overlay before flattening the image. Image source: Unsplash

      Skin Mask: Selects and masks the skin in one click. (Shown above.)

      Fabric: Smooths out creases and wrinkles in fabric.

      We set the Fabric plug-in a difficult (if not impossible) task of smoothing out the wrinkles in the shirt and suit worn by this relaxed wedding guest. While it didn’t actually eliminate any wrinkles, it had the greatest effect on the trousers where it eliminated some of the striped pattern in places. This is an example where local application of Photoshop’s eraser tool could have cut back on the processing and produced a better result. But it was probably over-optimistic to think any application could have done a much better job with such a challenging original.

      Clean Backdrop: Detects dirt, small folds and sensor dust automatically and removes it from an evenly-coloured studio background. ($111.75 regularly $149) (Not tried.)

      The Arams workflow manager pulls all the plug-ins together and also supports batch processing to make it easy to retouch hundreds of photos with any number of plug-ins with a few clicks.


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      Systems compatibility: Windows 7 (x64), Windows 10 (x64), Windows 11, macOS 10.14+
      Hardware requirements: PC: GPU with 4GB RAM or Intel CPU with OpenCL 1.1 support; MAC: 2015 or later plus Intel, M1 or M2 CPU
      Processor speed: 64-bit (x64) processor, 1.2 GHz or faster
      Disk space requirement: at least 6Gb RAM
      Supported image formats: JPEG, PNG, TIFF, HEIC
      Raw formats
      : Not supported
      Batch processing: Yes
      Usable as standalone software: Yes
      Other editors’ support: The Retouch4me Photoshop Panel and the Frequency Separation plug-in panels work with Capture One, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop versions 23.3.0 and newer. The plug-ins (except for the Frequency Separation plug-in) are compatible with Photoshop versions starting from CS6 x64. The Color Match OFX is supported in DaVinci Resolve 18 and newer.
      Export to social media: Only indirectly
      Distributor: Retouch4me (30% discount link for Photo Review readers)



      RRP: US$93 (~AU$138) per plug-in

      • Features: 8.8
      • Ease of Use: 8.9
      • Versatility: 8.2



      Retouch4me 30% discount link for Photo Review readers