Portrait Professional 12 Released for Portrait Optimization

Some of us are born good looking. Others buy beauty through a range of products and services. And the rest of us? Well, until recently we just had to deal with the genetic hand that was dealt to us. But then along came image editing applications such as Photoshop, which could at least make most of us look noticeably snappier via retouched portraits. But such fine-tuning takes time in the hands of a skilled retoucher.

Anthropics Technology responded with Portrait Professional, a cross platform application/plugin that is dedicated to making us all look more appealing. Its approach is an unusual one, in that the app bases its range of changes on thousands of photos of "beautiful human faces." Of course, what constitutes beauty isn't fixed but rather is a factor of time and place. But that's a philosophical discussion for another day. The fact is that users can quickly load in a portrait and by means of 200 sliders simply shift aspects of the face in a more "beautiful" direction. Portrait Professional claims to be the only portrait software capable of slimming and refining the shape of a face, enabling users to make their subjects as slim and beautiful as possible. True, all this could be done in Photoshop — but only given time and expertise.

The kinds of tweaking that are possible include reshaping all or any aspects of the face; fixing skin blemishes such as spots or pimples; reducing and/or removing wrinkles; removing grease, sweat or shine highlights from the skin; adjusting the lighting on the face to make it more flattering; removing red eye; and whitening teeth and eyes. If the face has a double chin, Portrait Professional's "jaw slider" will recognize that and automatically reduce it.

An intelligent touch up brush, which actively looks for defects within its radius and only removes found defects, leaves good skin untouched. This is said to provide both better results and make the brush very fast and easy to use, since accuracy is not required. According to the developer, conventional skin touch up software simply filters the skin. While this works fine for small defects it can fall short when faced with bigger problems. When a large defect is removed, for example, what remains is featureless skin with no texture. In contrast, Portrait Professional automatically "grafts" real skin texture in place of the defects. Users can choose different skin textures to match the age and skin type of the subject. Slider controls can be used to improve common problems, such as reducing eye bags and crow's feet, as well as controls for cheek enhancement and lip moistening. Online dating sites will never be the same.

New in version 12 is patent applied for face relighting technology, which allows you to "show your subject in their best light, bringing out the beauty or character of a face without fakery. " This would seem to be a response to the growing objection to excessively optimized portraits. The new version also has "an enhanced capability to slim faces and take the weight off that the camera puts on." A polite way to say that you won't look as puffy as usual, all while blaming "the camera." Version 12 also includes an updated skin enhancer, which is said to retain natural skin texture while removing blemishes. In the words of Shakespeare, "Out, damned spot! Out, I say!"

There's there's Hair Thickening; the industry's most accurate automatic facial feature finder; an automatic sex and age detector, an automatic batch mode for speeding large jobs; and program speed increases.

It's all good news for those of us who don't like to look in a mirror. Keep in mind that there are three editions available: PortraitPro , PortraitPro Studio and PortraitPro Studio Max. PortraitPro 12 for Mac or Windows can be purchased on the Anthropics Technology site. Trial versions are available for download.