||The next generation in skin
enhancement - Automatic skin regeneration|
by Andrew Berend
Current automatic skin touch-up software packages, (usually offered as
Photoshop plug-ins), all operate in a similar way. Essentially, they work
using filters that remove certain frequencies within the skin to remove the
defects that occur at those frequencies.
Filtering in this way works reasonably well as long as the defects are
small, or similar to natural skin features. However, skin filtering only has
important limitations. If the defects on the skin are large, or the skin has
no texture because it has been over-exposed, this approach breaks down.
f the skin defects being removed are large, the areas of skin where the
defects used to be become artificial and waxy looking. The only way to hide
these featureless, waxy patches is to smooth all the rest of the skin,
giving the featureless, unnatural, often over-airbrushed look that
characterises ‘quick and dirty’ automatic skin touch-up.
Until now the only way to get around this has been painstaking and
time-consuming hand work, using, typically, the healing brushes in
Photoshop. This means that with current technology, there is a stark choice
between either over-softened skin, or lots of hand work in Photoshop (see
the call-out box right – Ed.). For the hard-working wedding or portrait
photographer with little time and a set budget, neither solution is ideal.
So what can be done to improve the situation? Currently software skin
enhancers can only subtract from what is there. They only remove features
from the skin. They cannot generate realistic new skin where this is
necessary. To deal with skin properly, what is needed is an automatic skin
regenerator, a 'software surgeon', capable of automatically producing
realistic skin grafts, and then seamlessly blending the grafts into the
existing skin where necessary.
We have incorporated just such a seamless ‘skin graft’ facility in the
latest version of Portrait Professional touch-up software. Version 9
incorporates new, patent applied for ClearSkintm automatic skin clean up and
regeneration technology, designed to give both a more natural and realistic
result on existing skin and also to automatically regenerate skin, where
necessary. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first commercially
available automatic skin regenerator.
ClearSkin can regenerate natural looking skin even in ‘impossible’ areas
such as over exposed highlights, or where very large defects have had to be
removed from the skin. This ability to automatically generate skin texture
also enables portraits with major problems such as over-exposed highlights
or very large skin defects to be convincingly retrieved.
In the (rather extreme) example above, an old man’s skin has been
de-wrinkled (and, in this case, also effectively rejuvenated with younger
skin) using the Clearskin™ technology. Notice that skin detail has been
restored even in the over exposed highlights to the side and below the eye
in the original.
What does this mean for the busy working photographer? Three things: Greater
speed. Convincing skin touch-up can be achieved in a fraction of the time
that was previous required. Better quality. More realistic skin touch-up can
be automatically achieved, particularly in more extreme situations. And
finally, less skill is required. Because the process is mostly completely
automatic, significantly less skill and painstaking work is required from
the photographer or touch-up artist.
If you are interested, you can evaluate this new technology for yourself.
Download a free trial version of Portrait Professional 9 from
and judge for yourself the effectiveness or otherwise of this new skin
Skin Repair – the long method
Andrew Berend points out on the opposite page that it is possible to repair
a missing skin area in Photoshop, but that it is a job for experts. This is
undoubtedly true. We have done it before and refreshed our memory via Gry
Garness' book on retouching (reviewed in August–September 2009). The method
involves the use of the Pattern Maker and the CS4 user is immediately
confronted with a problem – Pattern Maker is no longer installed by default!
You have to go and find the dot 8bi plug-in file in the goodies folder on
your installation DVDs or download it. Then you have to navigate to the
relevant plug-in folder and drag the 8bi file across. However, you have to
do this separately for the 64-bit and 32-bit versions of Photoshop and the
locations are different. Ours were found in:
C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS4 (64 Bit)\Plug-ins\Filters
C:\Program Files (x86)\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS4\Plug-ins\Filters
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