Portrait photography is one of the most important genres in the industry. It is also one of the most competitive types of photography. If you plan to stay ahead of the competition, having a great workflow will dramatically improve your performance.
Portrait photography benefits greatly from good editing skills. Unfortunately, editing large amounts of images can be time consuming. Most photographers would probably rather be outdoors shooting more subjects than stuck behind a screen editing dozens of images. Photographing more people makes more money, which is why many high-end photographers hire outside editors.
For most of us, however, hiring an outside editor may not be financially feasible. Fortunately, as technology continues to improve, the editing process can be eased through the use of AI.
Estonian company Retouch4me has produced something remarkable with its suite of software. This is the same company that produced the highly regarded and highly successful 3D LUT Creator. Its latest software suite is just a few leaps forward.
When it comes to retouching portraits, it is almost necessary to use healing features in editing software. For most of us, skin isn’t perfect all the time. Temporary blemishes in our skin are captured by a camera, and if not healed, they become permanent features.
Problems such as painful patches, acne, skin redness and even skin damage need to be removed in many cases. Two of Photoshop’s most useful tools for doing this are the Spot Healing Brush and the Healing Brush. These two are usually enough to clear up some of the points that need healing.
The downside is that this is one of the most time-consuming parts of retouching a portrait. This is compounded by the number of portraits you need to modify. This is why the Retouch4me Heal software is so incredibly useful.
The software is simple to use. Once installed, it appears near the bottom of the filters tab in Photoshop. The software launches almost immediately and after a second or two the healing preview is complete.
Along the top section of the software, you have several options. These include the ability to reduce the impact of software using the sensitivity slider. You can also check the mask box if you want to create a mask. Additionally, clicking the “Original” button in the top left section allows you to switch between before and after.
Once you click on the “apply” button, the software takes a few seconds to complete its work. It is remarkable how fast the software works and the time it saves is worth every penny.
Of course, results are the most important part of the equation, and Retouch4me’s Heal AI software is truly impressive. In the before and after image below, you will notice how the software is smart enough to fix all the issues without going overboard. This is also the case when using the software at its maximum setting.
Retouch4me Dodge & Burn
Dodging and burning is one of the most powerful ways to sculpt and correct skin tones. No matter how well done it is, portrait lighting won’t always be perfect, and that’s where the dodge and burn functions come in super handy.
For example, uneven places can end up being a distraction. With Dodge and Burn, you can fix most issues related to uneven skin tones. This is probably the most efficient way to retouch a portrait. Unfortunately, this is usually the longest part of the retouching process.
There’s such a thing as going too far in retouching, and dodging and burning can sometimes get out of control. However, even when used in a reserved way, the time it takes can end up being hours and hours. This is why Retouch4me’s dodge and burn software is, without a doubt, the most useful and impactful.
Again, the software only takes a few seconds to launch, and once you hit apply, the effect is rendered almost immediately.
The two images above show the before and after, and as you can see, the result is quite powerful. The light and dark tones around the forehead, chin and nose are evened out without appearing abrupt. Doing this manually would be time consuming, but here we have software that can do the task amazingly well in seconds.
Portrait Retouch4me Volumes
As photographers, we use light to sculpt our subjects. Sometimes the lighting isn’t perfect everywhere, and that’s why retouching is so useful for the work we produce. Portrait Volumes enhance key areas of a portrait, such as the lips, eyes, and nose. All this to create a result that has more depth and appears more three-dimensional.
Granted, this isn’t the most time-consuming part of a retouching workflow; however, with a large number of portraits, the time adds up.
The software works almost identically to how the Dodge and Burn and Heal software works. And once again, the speed and quality of the results are to be underlined.
As you can see in the comparison above, the software helps bring more depth to the portrait. Features like eyes and lips stand out more, which is important in a portrait. The only thing that would improve this software would be to be able to extend it to also include the subject’s hair. Currently, the software does not appear to make any major changes to a subject’s hair. However, this is by no means a major problem.
The three software discussed above are the crucial elements of Retouch4me. They contain the most useful features and provide the greatest impact on a workflow. You can pretty much stick to the above three and not miss much. The other software, complexion, Eye shine, Eye vesselsand White teeth are nice to have. Collectively they are great; however, individually they don’t have the greatest impact on your workflow and end result. Finally, the Clean the backdrop The software is a little more specialized and is only recommended if you take a lot of portraits with lighter backgrounds.
That said, here’s the end result when all of the software’s features are applied to a portrait.
The final image also saw increased contrast and exposure. The colors of the image have also been slightly degraded.
Whenever someone talks about AI and editing, the knee-jerk reaction is probably negative. We assume the software is going to make everyone’s skin look like plastic and smooth out every detail in a person. Retouch4me is the first software suite to hit the market that understands how retouching is done.
Software such as Dodge and Burn and Portrait Volumes demonstrate incredible understanding as the results are brilliant. Even at maximum settings, the results don’t seem overdone. Of course, as with most things, subtlety is key; however, with Retouch4me this is surprisingly not necessary.
You can easily browse a whole batch of portraits and get results that clients love. This is literally what happened in my case. With Retouch4me, I was able to retouch 26 portraits in just over an hour, and clients loved the results. Some of these images are in the main image collage.
When you combine a bit of color grading with a few touches that you would normally apply to your portraits with Retouch4me software, you have the most capable and powerful retouching workflow available today.