How I Got Smoke’d In A Retouching Contest

I’ve had a story I’ve been holding off on telling until the time was right. It’s about a product that I’ve come to truly believe in (and rely on). But, before the events of this story happened, it’s something that I pretty much dismissed without ever really trying it. I didn’t want to tell the story until you could get a hold of the software I’m talking about. Now that it’s out, I figure it’s time. Here goes…

A Visit To onOne Software
Back in August I was out west in Oregon, and stopped by to see my friends at the onOne Software office for a day. They were just about to announce Perfect Photo Suite 7 and their newest software updates, so I sat in for a couple of hours to take a look at what’s new. I was digging everything they had to show. I really like their Perfect Effects plug-in. I think Perfect Layers is great for anyone who uses Lightroom and just needs simple layering capabilities. Perfect Mask is awesome and just got WAY better, but I was most excited about their brand new Black and White plug-in. Honestly though, the one that least excited me, at the time, was their retouching plug-in (Perfect Portrait 2).

The Words That I Would Eventually Eat
When they got around to demoing Perfect Portrait 2, they asked what I thought. I was pretty honest in saying it didn’t do much for me. Don’t get me wrong. The technology of what I just saw was incredible. They way it automatically recognizes eyes, the mouth and teeth is nothing less than amazing. But, I figured that if you were a hardcore portrait retoucher, then you were going to use Photoshop – no matter what. Serious fashion and beauty retouchers actually take pride in the amount of time it takes them to retouch a portrait. The longer the better :) (I joke… well… kinda). I mentioned that I thought the plug-in was great for beginners, but that for me personally, I could do the job much faster in Photoshop. Oh, and by the way, when I said the word “much” I’m pretty sure I put some heavy emphasis on it :). I also recall saying I could probably be done whitening teeth and brightening eyes by the time the plug-in was open (ouch!).

The Challenge
So one of the guys over at onOne who was doing the demo (Dan Harlacher), suggested we try a contest. He proposed that we both open the same photo and see who’s done faster. He even let me pick from my own photos, so I picked a photo with two people in it that both needed retouching.

The Smackdown
So Dan loaded up the photo and off we went. Ready… set… go! I added a layer, changed the blend mode to Screen, added a layer mask and whitened one persons eyes. Then I added a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and used it to remove some yellow tint from the teeth on one person. Moving on, I added another layer along with a Gaussian Blur to get ready to blur the skin. Next thing I hear “Done!” from Dan. What?! Seriously?! No way?! My first thought was that I’d look over and see some really poor attempt at retouching or that maybe he wasn’t really as “done” as he said he was. I was wrong. He was done. Both people were retouched. Eyes brightened, teeth whitened, skin smoothed. It was all very tasteful retouching. Just as good as if I’d done it myself in Photoshop.

The Lesson
Besides the obvious lesson of not being too sure of myself about something I hadn’t tried out yet, there’s more to this story. I learned that Perfect Portrait is a VERY solid plug-in for retouching portraits. One that will definitely now be a part of my retouching projects. Even though I know Photoshop and can do the retouching manually (and consider myself pretty fast at it), there’s no denying the speed and results that I saw that day.

So Who’s Perfect Portrait Really For?
1) It’s absolutely great for pros that shoot portrait or wedding sessions where they have to deliver several, or many different photos. Photos that all need retouching, but you don’t want to spend the time to open each one individually and do it manually in Photoshop.

2) It works great on photos with multiple people in it (this one is where I find it most useful). Sure, I was pretty close to finishing my retouch when Dan yelled “Done”. But I was only done with one person. There were two people in the photo. So if I only had 1 person and 1 photo to retouch, could I rival Perfect Portrait? Probably – it would be close. But that’s where I was wrong in my first thoughts about it. How many times do you only have 1 person and 1 photo to retouch. I shoot a lot of lifestyle-family portraits. Photos that often have 3-5 people in them. And I don’t just deliver 1 photo to the family. I typically deliver 5-10. Heck, you can even batch the retouching so it’s all done for you automatically. It’s crazy just how good this plug-in is.

3) Perfect Portrait is great if you aren’t a Photoshop pro and don’t want to learn all of the intricacies of the layers, filters, blend modes, and brushes involved in retouching portraits.

Who’s Perfect Portrait Not For?
It’s not for hardcore retouchers. If you’re retouching photos for the fashion industry or for magazines then this is definitely not for you. If you want absolute perfect attention to every tiny little detail, then it’s not for you. It’s for the 99% of photographers left out there, who simply need to retouch a photo in a few minutes and still get great results.

Congrats to onOne Software for a killer new release with Perfect Photo Suite 7. Like I tell everyone who asks me about plug-ins, there’s a 30-day free trial so give it a try yourself. If you have a previous version you can buy the upgrade or, of course, the full version if you don’t. And don’t forget that NAPP members get $50 off.

Have a great weekend everyone! :)

  • Dennis Zito

    Hi Matt,

    Wow, I can’t believe that you came in second!:-) I just got my copy of Suite 7 and just installed it yesterday. I haven’t done anything with it yet. I really like the new interface and easy to get to all the modules. The problem I have is understanding the tools and how they work. I really have a hard time with their Masking program. It doesn’t work intuitively for me. But, that’s what the tutorials are for. I’ll have to give the portrait retouch a try. I have some photos of my kids I need to retouch. Been putting it off because it’s time consuming to do each person in PS as you mentioned.

    Thanks for the info and update!


    • Matt Kloskowski

      Make sure you check out their website Dennis. I know Brian Matiash (from onOne) has been busy doing lots of videos so I’m sure they’ll have some training up there. Good luck! :)

  • musicman5

    Been experimenting with the new version since the 30th and love it. I only need to retouch portraits occasionally and the first version of Perfect Portrait was getting me fairly close to where I wanted to be but the new version takes me all the way.

    I can highly recommend the onOne training videos too, a lot of great stuff and all done in small portions. They are very helpful, as was the NAPP discount!!

  • gianttraining

    I have watched in amazement during shows and seminars as Bob and others from onOne have wow’ed audiences with the plugins and software here in the UK and Ireland.

    Being a Wacom Evangelist and using the standard techniques in Photoshop to show photographers how to retouch with the devices got a whole lot easier now we demonstrate the suite of Plugins and Software available.

    We love Adobe and their software – this just helps us speed up the process. So much that we have written in the onOne Suite of plugins into our standard Photoshop courses for photographers so that they can see exactly what they should be using.

    Great article and credit well deserved to onOne (and you Matt)

  • Mika

    Yeah, times have changed a lot. Plugins have become more and more accepted and are a huge timesaver compared some of the old-school techniques in Photoshop. Still there is room and reason for PS, but personally I only open it up for cloning and advanced healing – okay, and if I try some compositing work. But being more a photog than a designer Lightroom and the onOne suite is everything I need for most of my work. Adobe Camera Raw 7.x and Perfect Suite 7 are definitely my workflow highlights in 2012!

  • Michelle Hedstrom

    I’m a very big fan of the onOne stuff, but don’t do a whole lot of portraits, so haven’t used PP that much. Fun little contest you guys did, and it’s cool to see it’s definitely usable in a “real” retouching scenario.

  • Matt Dizel

    Hi Matt,

    I am a huge Nik fan (and user) but was looking into onOne’s resize program. Are there things Perfect Suite does, or does better, then the Nik suite? I will be downloading the trial but would like to know your thoughts.


    • Matt Kloskowski

      Hmmmm. They’re both good. Black and white is similar in both. Effects are similar in both. onOne’s has layers so if you wanted to do layer and layer masking (and quick retouching), you could do it there, where Nik doesn’t have that stuff. Hope that helps.

  • Chris Seubert

    Silly question, does this software require you to have Photoshop as well? I’ll have to go check out onOne’s website to see what the pluses and minuses are vs. Photoshop for a “general” photographer like myself.

    • Mika

      Nope, as I mentioned above, Lightroom plus some decent plugins are capable of making Photoshop almost obsolete. Perfect Suite works stand alone as well. So, no real need for Photoshop unless you are a serious retoucher, want to clone huge areas in a picture or want to do compositings (though there are layers and masking in the Suite also). Especially as a “general” photog things have become easier and cheaper without Photoshop CSx.

  • Amudgarden

    I feel like Al Pacino in Godfather III. Just as soon as I feel like I’ve mastered retouching in Photoshop…they introduce THIS!! I will definitely try this software out. If it saves a couple of minutes per photo, that’s a HUGE leap in efficiency for workflow. Thanks Matt!

  • Stu Elwing

    Matt, that is quite an admission! It takes a big and honest man to write what you wrote here. I’ve been a student of yours twice when your LR LIVE Tour was in Chicago, and I have always admired your work greatly. How would you say Perfect Portrait does on eyes, lashes, and brows? I bought the upgrade and I am about to try it out myself. Thank you for yor words on the subject!

  • Babak

    I’ve been having problems with masking in suit 6 and do not use it any more, it just takes too long separating colors. i bought it in one light two light show in Toronto and beside the fact that it took them 3 weeks to send was not too impressed. sorry Matt.