Anthropics Technology’s Portrait Professional 8 Software; Retouching Can Be Fun!

Fun and retouching aren’t usually words found in the same sentence. But using Portrait Professional 8 (PP8) software is a real blast and quite unlike any other program you’ve ever used to retouch before. That said, before we get too carried away, let’s see what it is, and isn’t.

The first step in using PP8 is to set five markers on the eye, nose, and mouth, then the software “maps” the face as shown here. You may make adjustments after the software has performed its work.
All Photos © 2008, Steve Bedell, All Rights Reserved

It’s not Photoshop. It’s not a substitute for Photoshop. It’s not a Photoshop plug-in. It’s a stand-alone program. You can be using it in minutes. The basic version works on JPEG and TIFF files. The pro version works on 16-bit raw files. It has PC and Mac versions. It does not have layers. It has a mind of its own. It’s fun to use, but I already said that.

Once downloaded and launched, you open up a file, tell it if the subject is male or female, mark a few strategic points on the face, and press a button. Presto, you’re done! Is it that easy? You know the answer—it’s “yes” and “no.” It’s “yes” if you accept what they give you. It’s “no” if you want more control over the process. You might say, why don’t they just give you layers, then you can just overdo things and back off the opacity until things look like you want (a favorite technique of mine and many others). The answer: because that just won’t work! It won’t work because PP8 does not just remove and soften blemishes and eye lines, it actually changes the shape of the face so layers won’t line up. It actually takes the information you feed into it and then attempts to change things based upon its own intelligence gained by studying hundreds of examples of faces considered beautiful. Naturally, I was insulted that they didn’t use me as a sample specimen, but I figured it’s because they’re from England and didn’t know me.

This is what the default female settings look like. PP8 did a very nice job of retouching and smoothing, but if you click on the “after” image you’ll see the facial structure has also been changed. (Model: Maddie Pickett.)

After the computer goes to work on your image, it shows the before and after images side by side. You might take a look at the images and figure that outside of a little softening and blemish removal they look pretty much the same and there are many options to accomplish the same thing. You’d be wrong. With the split screen in place, hit the “Enter” button on your computer and watch the face change from the before and after pose. At the default settings, you’ll notice the software has gone ahead and changed the nose, eyes, chin, lips, eyebrows, etc., and you didn’t even notice. That’s really cool—or is it?

Everyone wants to look good, but do they want to look like somebody else? Probably not. But that’s OK, because PP8 allows you many options to control each aspect of the process. Once you have found your own sweet spot, you may set it as a default for both male and female faces.