Portraiture Review

Wow Portraiture is great!

I have a strange story about how I stumbled upon Portraiture. But I am glad I did – and now I will use it all the time!

First, before I get started, you can go ahead and download a trial in the background. If you decide to buy it, you can use the Portraiture Coupon Code of “STUCKINCUSTOMS” to get 10% off. As with all things now adays, it comes in two flavors: Portraiture for Windows or Portraiture for the Mac.

So what is this story of discovery? Well, some of you might have seen my HDR Tutorial. That’s kind of my bread and butter, although I also very much enjoy taking photos of people, models, kids, and the like. One of the problems with HDR is excessive noise, and I have ended up using a program called Noiseware to reduce the noise (Noiseware Review here). Anyway, Noiseware is made by a company called Imagenomic, and they sent me their other product too called Portraiture, but I had never tried it. It’s a plugin for Photoshop and I never got around to trying it until just recently.

I was invited to some exclusive party with a bunch of models here in central Texas. I was picturing that party from Seinfeld when George Costanza had that little cut out from a magazine. Anyway, it was nothing like that.

It started with a little road trip with me, Janus Anderson, Kevin Gliner, and Christopher Ferguson (I linked there to their ports in case you are a model looking for a good photographer). These three guys are great photographers and they shoot models all the time. It was an extremely geeky road trip and we spent the whole time talking about lenses and software. They kept telling me how great Portraiture was! This was impressive to me, since I was kind of an old-school guy I guess. I would clean up skin on models and use various techniques that were manual and fairly intensive. But I’m pretty open-minded and always willing to try new things, so I’ve spent a lot of time really trying out Portraiture. And now I love it! I can’t imagine going back to the old way of doing it!

Great stuff about Portraiture:

  • It’s very easy to use.  For those of you that are scared by sliders and settings — there is no need!  Just use the default then click OK!
  • Saves me many hours of time.
  • The dropdowns have excellent default setups to produce interesting looks.
  • It gives an edge over other photographers that don’t have this software.
  • The company’s website has excellent video tutorials.  The guy that talks over them sounds just like Tim Calhoun from SNL, but he is still informative.

So, below I have put several shots, showing off how cool Portraiture is.

Let’s keep in mind that this model already had great skin. Must be nice, eh? But this software also looks great for everyone else in the real world who isn’t 18. That reminds me, I need to try this software on myself. I’m 37 now. I can see what I looked like back when I was 36.

Here is how she started.  I lit her with my studio lights to the left and right in front of her, umbrellas reversed.  No worries… I won’t go into all that… it’s nerdy lighting stuff.  The initial pic isn’t too bad, eh?  Let’s face it.  She’s not an ugly girl.  Of course, I’m not zoomed into 100%, but you will see some of that zoom in the other screenshots below.


Below this, you will see the “Default” setting of Portraiture.  You can see the original on the left and the better one on the right. It’s already good!  This program is very easy to use.  And, for people that are scared to move sliders around and stuff, you don’t have to!  Just click OK and you’ll be done.


This is the same default setting below, just showing a different part of the face.


Below, you can see an example of what the setting for “Smoothing: High” looks like.  To me, it’s a little too much.  If you are one of those cheesy photographers that has to work in the mall, I feel really sorry for you.  But, on the plus side, you can use this setting to make all those little mall girls look like they are radioactive.  I think I have just said very mean things about photographers in malls and people that get their photos taken in malls.  But there, I said it.  And, to those photographers stuck in malls, you gotta get outta there man.  Comon… you are better than that… get a job doing something else to make money, and keep the photography fun and light.  Why am I even talking about this stuff in the middle of software review?  I don’t know.  It’s because I’m not very good at writing reviews.


Now, below is kind of an interesting setting from the dropdown.  It’s called “Enhance: Glamour”.  It made her look kind of detaurated and glowing like she might be in Versace ad in a train station.  Cool!


Below are the settings I finally settled on.  I dialed back the Detail: Smoothing a little bit.  I like to see the pores so that she doesn’t look too plastic.  I also enhanced the contrast and warmth just a tad.  Those bright studio lights of mine resulted in pulling a bit of warmth out, and I wanted that to go back into her skin.


And below is the final shot.

The Portraiture

I hope you enjoyed the review!

Any questions about the nature of these reviews? Visit my Ethics Statement. It’s

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  • Very simple yet informative review Trey. I’ve yet to get my hands wet in portraits but I have seen some ads for portrait specific software. Coming from you, this will be the software I’ll give a shot when I start tackling these shots this year.

    Impressive work all around. May you and yours continue to be blessed!


  • Thanks for the great link and tutorial. I’ll have to check it out!

  • Many thanks for the demonstration, I appreciate it. Looks very nice.

  • Looks like the Clarity filter in LightRoom to me!
    But if it has cool presets… I’ll give it a try 🙂

  • i’m eager to try portraits, as soon as i can get over the fear of subjecting my subjects to my obsessing over the shot. you steered me towards HDR, so why not this?

    thanks yet again.

  • James Bradford McGinley

    Wow, great job. I don’t have studio lights so I could really do with this program. My stabs at portraits in photoshop are very plasticy looking, so I’ll give it a try.

  • aLnEDaBi

    I have the Plugin but i never used it.
    Thanks for the tutorial. I really learned alot from you.


  • Cool! Glad you all like it… I will try to improve it as I play with it even more…

  • Many thanks for posting this! I tried it and it’s indeed an amazing piece of software. It nicely corrects and enhances while it still preserves the essence of the person (though they may look a bit younger).
    Also thanks for the coupon 🙂

  • I’ve been using Portraiture for a year or so now but have only really tried it in the default modes. I really should find the time to test it out properly.

  • I was on the fashion business doing a lot of PS work hours and hours, day to day, to bring model´s faces like baby faces and so other retouchings (you know what I´m talking about, doesn´t you? 😀 ). I appreciated this kind of software, in fact it helps a lot glamourizing skins just in a few clicks than doing a lot of “painting” work with the wacom in hand.
    Just a few tips from a “not yet a Pro now”:
    – First of all, remove those skin imperfections with the Heal Brush or Spot Healing Brush.
    – Then duplicate the layer and apply Portraiture.
    – Finally take back some details like the original hair, eyes, etc… that the final result look more realistic using some masking techniques in PS.

    Just my cents 🙂

  • Thanks yall —

    Great tips Buddha – thank you for those! 🙂

  • Jeff

    I really liked your tutorial as well thanks a bunch…
    Gotta ask you, “does this work as well, or easier” as just a program to touch up photos like Adobe does? or better? It seems to me to be easier to work with?
    I don’t do photo work as a hobby or anything just for fun and myself. But it would be nice to use a program to clean up those awful shots in a good way…

    Thanks again for something truly interesting and knowledgeable for us all.

  • Jacques (fotofreq on flickr)

    Nice write up! I have been playing with the Demo a few days and really like it. Very easy to use and combines nicely with other other tools to cover an environmental portrait (ala Lucis or Topaz on the environment, and portraiture on the face(s)).

  • Have you tried Portrait Proffessional? If yes, what is your opinion?


  • Ian Woodrow

    Where do they get 19% sales tax from? I thought sales outside their own state were free of tax.

    I won’t be purchasing at this extortionate rate.

  • Andrew

    I have tried Portraiture – nice software.
    Another nice software is Color Efex Pro filters for NX Capture.

    Try Dynamic Skin Softener – does the same job pretty much and does it well. In addition you can apply it non-destructively in Capture and selectively without masking , layers etc.

    Portraiture gives you more control in one software piece, as Trey mentions within the same window you can adjust warmth and contrast, but in Capture you can do it anyways.

  • Thanks!

    I will try that some more! 🙂

  • Hi, first of all, just want to see that I love your site.
    I have purchased Portrait Professional 9 recently, I am wondering if you have tried it and how Portraiture compares with PP.

  • Hey, go easy on us former mall photographers Trey…I started out doing that and a few things I did learn from the process were composition, posing and working with all different types of people! But I am also glad I’ve ‘graduated’ on to other things 😉

  • I just learned that Portraiture also allows for batch retouching. Definitely a selling point that I thought should be mentioned. Thanks!

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  • Hi, this is the sort of software that I’m looking for. I have just one issue. In smoothing the skin, the whole face – eyes and hair – also get softened. I do a lot of magazine work. The eyes are really important and always draw the viewer’s attention. If they are soft it makes the photo look slightly out of focus. Any way around this?

  • Thanks!

    Vincent – have you used portraiture? It’s really good at only softening the skin and not the other bits that need to be sharp

  • I have used Portraiture for several years and it is the only retouching “filter” that I use. In regards to what Vincent says ( and this goes for all filters that you use in Photoshop…unsharp, blur, etc ) the key to using these filters is to create a new layer (cmd/ctrl J) run the filter, hit the mask icon while holding down the alt key to put up a black mask, concealing the filter that you just ran. Now you take the brush (soft) and paint back in the areas that you want the filter to work on, in the case of Portraiture, the skin. Once you do this, go to the top slider for density ( cannot remember the exact name ) and back off until you see the degree of retouching that looks natural to you. Then flatten. Once you start using this layer / masking technique, you will never go back to running a filter on the whole layer again …you just have to get in the habit of making a new layer the first thing that you do whenever you open up an image in Photoshop.

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  • is it much harder to use than portrait pro ?

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  • Frog

    SkinFiner does a *much* better job and a lot faster than Portraiture. It also costs about a quarter to a fifth the Portraiture price.

    Both these programs have similar controls and aim to do the same thing. They create a mask and let you clean up the skin with several sliders. If you are used to Portraiture, then there is no learning curve for SkinFiner. Both programs lack a brush.


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