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PortraitPro V21 Review

We review the latest version of PortraitPro, V21, the program designed to make portrait photo editing quick and easy.

| Anthropics Technology PortraitPro 21 in Other Software

Ease of Use

PortraitPro V21 Review: Portraitprov21 Face Selection Detection

It doesn't matter how good your lighting is, how beautiful your model or how flawless the make-up job, there will often be a blemish or shadow which could do with touching up. Photoshop may seem the obvious solution, but PortraitPro 21’s advanced facial feature recognition and comprehensive retouching options go way beyond what Photoshop alone can achieve and can generate quick results with much less effort.

PortraitPro 21 Features

PortraitPro offers photo editing software specifically designed for editing and improving your portrait photos. Instead of spending time touching up portrait photos in programs like Photoshop, you can quickly and easily edit portraits and make changes that could take easily take you hours in other software.

PortraitPro uses "AI Facial Recognition" and the program will automatically detect the face, and facial features, detecting the eyes, mouth, nose, and eyebrows, as well as the edges of the face so that you can adjust all elements, as well as adjust hair, and the background of the image. The software will also detect the age and gender of your subject, giving you specific controls and options for male or female subjects.

Once you've loaded an image, if the software’s default enhancement preset doesn’t work to your liking, various gender-specific alternatives can be applied, depending on which parts of the face you’d like to alter and the age range of your subject.

Go beyond the presets and virtually any facial feature can be manually manipulated using sliders, from pupil size and sharpness to skin pore smoothing, nose size and shape, to mouth expression. Touch-up and restore brushes also let you interact directly with an image to apply or remove enhancements from specific areas.

Version 21 adds even more features and tools to help speed up the process, as well as add additional creative options. Here we go through some of the main features added to version 21:

  • Sky Replacement technology allows you to instantly swap skies in and out of your photographs.
  • Remove and reduce noise without sacrificing image quality.
  • Modify shadows and brightness with new Light Brushes.
  • Effortlessly customize hair with the new Hair Highlighting feature.
  • New Clone Tool
  • New History Tool
  • Colour Styles simplify complex editing processes and introduce colourful effects to help lead you in new artistic directions.

There are three different editions available, the Standard, Studio and Studio Max. Go for the Studio Max version and you’ll be able to batch process multiple images, and the Studio version lets you use PortraitPro as a plug-in with Photoshop, as well as adding support for RAW files.

PortraitPro V21 Review: PORTRAIT PROV21 VERSIONS

System Requirements

  • 2GHz processor
  • 2GB of RAM (4GB for handling 8+ megapixel images)
  • 1024 x 600 display
  • 64-bit Windows 10, 8, or 7
  • 64-bit macOS 10.7


PortraitPro 21 Ease of Use

PortraitPro V21 Review: Portrait Pro Studio Max V21

There are a number of built-in tutorials to get you up and running, and they have a number of test images you can use. If you haven't used PortraitPro before, or want to get up and running quickly from a different version, then it's a great way to get to grips with the options and controls.

When you open an image in Portrait Pro, the software automatically locates a face or faces within it and displays outlines around the face, mouth, nose, eyes and eyebrows. The program will automatically detect the sex of your subject, but you can alter this if the program has made a mistake. The program will automatically apply the relevant gender/age preset enhancements according to the facial characteristics of your image.

The initial accuracy of the feature recognition is very good, but you’re free to fine-tune the outlines in a similar way to adjusting the points on a pen tool line in Photoshop. This ensures features such as skin smoothing or teeth whitening are applied to exactly the right areas.

Different presets vary the amount of enhancement or lighting modification, or you can delve into the Portrait Improving Sliders to fine-tune individual facial features. These are grouped into categories, with sections like Face Sculpt allowing you to manipulate the shape of the face as a whole, as well as alter specific areas. Other categories control things like skin smoothing, lighting and hair. If you’d rather a specific feature was left completely untouched, just slide its slider to zero or click the On/Off button alongside the category header to disable all related enhancements.

Using automated face detection and a simple, slider-based approach means there’s rarely any need to manually define facial features and the software works without layers or layer masks. A touch-up brush does allow targeted tweaks to eliminate prominent imperfections, and you’re also able to define other areas of skin beyond the face for enhancement should they not be automatically detected.

Most of the sliders are labelled in non-technical terms so it’s easy to work out what effect they’ll have. However, with so many categories and subcategories of adjustment available, it’s wise to adjust one section at a time and keep a close eye on what’s changing to avoid taking the touch-up too far. That said, Portrait Pro’s does let you fade each section of changes so that you can quickly adjust the levels.

PortraitPro 21 Performance

PortraitPro V21 Review: Portraitprov21 Lighting Controls
Lighting Controls

Portrait Pro was able to automatically enhance this image impressively well, but the default processing is deliberately conservative. By tweaking the Skin Smoothing sliders, facial imperfections were further reduced. The eye controls allowed the eyes to stand out more and irises brightened, you can even change the eye colour, or use the "contact lenses" option, as well as adjust the catchlight, being able to move it to the best position. You can also remove any unwanted reflection in the pupils.

Under the Face Sculpt options, you get a wide range of controls, including the ability to add a smile to your subject, or even increase the hair volume, giving the impression of bigger more voluptuous hair!

The lighting controls allow shadows to be applied to both sides of the face to increase contrast and depth, as well as giving the illusion of raised cheekbones. This could easily take hours to apply a similar effect in Photoshop. You can also use the "Fix Lighting" slider to reduce highlights or harsh shadows. Finally, the lips have been plumped up slightly, plus we’ve applied a lip moistening effect and extra colour saturation, and a slight pout shadow added below.


PortraitPro V21 Review: Portraitprov21 Hair Colour Changes
Hair Colour Changes

We've used the "Hair Recolor" option to adjust the hair colour to a similar colour, going for a fairly subtle change, but also added highlights. You can adjust the levels so that the differences are subtle, or more noticeable. Subtle hair colour enhancements like this work best, as radical changes from blonde to dark brunette or vice versa, may not look convincing if you're already used to your subject having a specific hair colour.

PortraitPro V21 Review: Portrait Pro 21 Pink Highlights
Pink Highlights

Portrait Pro gives a number of different skin smoothing options including specific controls for around the eyes, imperfections, thin wrinkles, fine shadows, pores, shine, grease, and more, as well as fine control over spot removal. You can adjust the areas selected for adjustment, however, this can be a little fiddly.

If you need to exit the program and come back to edit the photo at a later date, you can save the session, and come back to it later, and continue to adjust and tweak any of the settings.


Under TOOLS you'll find a range of new tools

PortraitPro V21 Review: Portraitprovv21 Noise Reduction
Noise Reduction

Noise Reduction - this does exactly what you'd expect it to do, removing noise caused by using a high ISO speed. You can adjust the strength of noise reduction so that you can tweak it as needed.


PortraitPro V21 Review: Portraitprov21 Lighting Brush
Lighting Brush

Lighting Brush - We've used the lighting brush to add a brighter, sunnier look to the image, which you can see in the top right of the image. We've kept the effect quite subtle and used a colour that matches with the look of the image. Care needs to be taken with this tool, as you can't undo the changes once you've exited the tool.


PortraitPro V21 Review: Portraitprov21 Clone Tool
Clone Tool

Clone tool - The clone tool is quick and easy to use, and the interface makes it quick and easy to adjust the source used, you simply click and drag to adjust when needed.


PortraitPro V21 Review: Portraitprov21 Sky Replacement

Sky Replacement - If you can find a portrait photo with the sky in the background, then you might find this tool useful. We used an image of two people riding bikes, to replace the sky, and auto-detection of the foreground and background (sky) has worked well. Where this needs to be refined, it is easy to select additional sections that need adding or removing. The software has also made the foreground much warmer to match the new sky in the image, helping make the image look more natural. There are numerous different images of sky built-in making it quick and easy to find one that suits your scene or look that you're going for.


Under Layers, you'll find background replacement options. You can use any background image you want, including images of the sky, and there are a number of different background images provided, including the typical backgrounds you might find in a studio. You can adjust the brush size, and zoom in to make any fine adjustments needed.

PortraitPro V21 Review: Background Replacement Masking
Background Replacement Masking


Anthropics PortraitPro Sample Photos


Value For Money

PortraitPro is available for £39.95 (after 50% discount), this makes it great value for money for portrait editing. The Studio edition is available for £69.95 (after 50% discount) and can be used as a plug-in for Photoshop, and supports RAW files. Studio Max is available for £139.95 (after 50% discount) and includes full batch processing in addition. Currently, all three versions can be had for half price, making the Standard edition exceptional value at just £39.95, the Studio version £69.95 and the Studio Max version £139.95. You can also get an extra 10% off with this code: EPZAM.


PortraitPro 21 Verdict

You can see from our examples that Portrait Pro can quickly improve portrait photos, as well as improve other shots, with sky replacement being another creative option for the right photos. It shouldn't matter if you're an advanced "Photoshop" wizard, or a complete beginner in portrait photo editing, Portrait Pro makes it easy to quickly and easily get some great results.

The automated facial feature recognition and effect targeting are outstanding, as is the thought that’s gone into making each enhancement work in harmony your subject, giving you control over how strong each change is applied. You can go too far with your edits, of course, but this is the same with any photo editing package.

Care needs to be taken when using some of the Tools, as you can't undo the changes once you've exited the tool, and the History tab doesn't help here, as it doesn't keep the history of your changes made inside the tool.

If all you want to do is remove a couple of pesky pimples or smooth the odd patch of skin, then any normal photo editing software with clone or blur tools will do the job, but to take portrait editing to the next level, and make your subjects really look their best, Portrait Pro works wonders and is worth every penny.

PortraitPro 21 Pros

  • Ease of use
  • Extent of editing options
  • Support for profile shots and multiple faces
  • Effective lighting control
  • Natural skin smoothing
  • Background replacement

PortraitPro 21 Cons

  • Hair colour changes not always effective
  • Making fine adjustments to selected layers can be fiddly
  • Once you exit some of the tools you can't undo the changes
  • History can disappear or start again when using tools

Overall Verdict

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