I'm always on the lookout for Photoshop plug-ins that will make my life easier in post production. Plug-ins generally simplify what I am trying to achieve in Photoshop. What might take me 10 layers in Photoshop can be achieved with one click with a plug-in. But I have never found a plug-in that reduces my time in post production like Portrait Professional. I photograph a lot of models for assignments, and part of that job is retouching tight headshots. Most model's skin, eyes, mouth and hair needs a little help. And with each part of the face comes a new group of layers to fix or enhance that aspect. My retouching could take hours on one subject.
But then I tried Portrait Professional. At first I was skeptical. I saw the before and after shots in the magazine ads, but really, how involved was this process? Portrait Professional can't get any easier to use. The program comes in both plug-in and stand alone versions; I have the plug-in version. You choose the plug-in in Photoshop, and the program will begin to guide you along on your retouching. First choose whether your subject is male or female. Then click in the corner of the eyes, mouth and on the tip of the nose. Adjust the markers for the shape of the face, and then hit the button to apply the program. I couldn't believe my first result. What had taken me close to 3 hours in Photoshop I achieved in 5 minutes with almost the same results.
But here is the best part. Portrait Professional has detailed panels and sliders to adjust all aspects of the retouch. You can fine tune the mouth, skin, hair, eyes and teeth. You want to make the lip color a little more red? No problem. How about adding more texture to the skin. Check, just use the slider for this aspect. I found that the program sharpened and lightened the eyes just a little too much for my tastes, but this was easily backed off using the control sliders. Many retouching jobs tend to make the skin look like plastic, but Portrait Professional allows total control to achieve the right skin tone and texture that you prefer.
If this hasn't made you slightly interested, right now the program is on sale for $40. For the amount of time this program will save you, this is a bargain.