This is the third article in a series dedicated to evaluating different software packages and the techniques for editing portraits. Follow these links to read the first two articles in this series on using Apple’s Aperture 3.2 and using Photoshop. This article is specifically about using Imaginomic’s Portraiture 2.0 plugin.
Portraiture 2.0 is a Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture plugin that attempts to eliminate manual labor of selective masking and pixel-by- pixel treatments in portrait retouching. It uses intelligent software that detects, smooths and removes imperfections while preserving skin texture and other important portrait details such as hair, eyebrows, eyelashes etc.
Portraiture’s approach revolves around a masking tool that enables selective smoothing only in the skin tone areas of the image. Portraiture employs an auto-detection algorithm that generates skin tone masks based upon the colour ranges within the picture as compared to its built in database. It helps you quickly discover most of the skin tone range of the image automatically and, if preferred, you can manually fine-tune it to optimize the results to taste.
Portraiture comes with pre-defined presets for one-click effects and you can capture your own workflow in a custom preset tailored to your specific needs. The range of pre-defined settings runs from minimal smoothing to heavy skin smoothing, with options for glamour, high and low key enhancements to the overall image. Depending on your portraiture style, using the presets may be all you require. I found, however, that even the lowest setting of smoothing applied in the presets still had an artificial look to the output (that Barbie doll, plastic look). My tastes gear more towards a minimal approach so I used the default, minimal setting and adjusted it accordingly.
Portraiture 2.0 launches from Aperture (or Lightroom or Photoshop) in the standard manner of most plugins. The user interface is clean and uncluttered, though hardly intuitive enough to avoid needing to read the accompanying short manual. The manual helps the user understand the philosophy of the software’s design and allows you to dive right into experimenting with it in a short amount of time. A quick preview of how the software is used is also available on the Imaginomic website.
The program is not intended to be a place where you spend a lot of time tweaking an image. It is really designed to quickly apply skin smoothing to an image without impacting non-skin areas or backgrounds, or for use as a batch process for a large number of portraits in a series. Essentially it is supposed to do the heavy lifting involved in building masks in a photoshop workflow. The masks themselves can be imported back into photoshop as a layer if using the photoshop plugin. This is a bit less intuitive for an Aperture workflow which does not use masks, and for that reason the mask export ability is not available in the Aperture plugin. If you use both Aperture and Photoshop, it might be wise to purchase the Photoshop plugin for this added flexibility in the output.
Portraiture 2.0 does not have a capacity for making spot edits of zits, or birthmarks (such as the brown liver spots on Natasha’s face). If those need to be removed, it will have to be done in another program. Given that the program also builds its masks based on the range of skin tones it detects, it will have difficulties if two or more people are in the photograph with different skin tones (such as people with caucasian and dark skin tones in the same image). While limited in application, the program is quick to use for single person portraits and for batch editing a large number of single person portraits.
With purchase price of $199.00 US Portraiture 2 is relatively expensive for what it does. Other programs have been developed since Portraiture was first introduced to the market which better handle some of the limitations noted above. Imaginomic offers a free 15 day, fully functional trial of Portraiture 2.0 plugin, so I recommend you give it a test drive before you make a decision. In short, the software does exactly what it claims to do and it does it very well. You will need to decide if it meets all of your needs or if another software package is better suited.
If you enjoyed this article, please sign up to receive my free newsletter in your email. You will receive weekly summaries of the postings on this blog as well as articles, coupons, and goodies only made available to subscribers.