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ArcSoft Portrait+ plugin V3

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Review of ArcSoft Portrait+ plugin V3

Software plugin automates some aspects of portrait re-touching

Retouching software offers specialised adjustments for photos.

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Face detection software simplifies portrait retouching

A photoshop plugin and standalone program Portrait Plus from Arcsoft that automates many aspects of portrait retouching.

Regular readers may know, that here at Northlight Images, we specifically don’t do portrait or wedding work at all, since we’re out and out commercial photographers. However that doesn’t mean I don’t regularly photograph people at work.

Also, although we don’t directly advertise it, we often provide headshot photography for our commercial clients.

As someone who’s uncomfortable in having their own photo taken, I’m not averse to a bit of ‘retouching’ when it comes to my own photographs, so I can appreciate it when staff at a client company are dragooned in to have their photos taken, and usually take several shots, giving people a bit of choice.


I’ve recently been looking at some specialist portrait re-touching software, that uses advances in facial recognition to offer a wide range of automated adjustments, that ‘as if by magic’ only affect particular aspects of a face.

I’ll use a sample image from Arcsoft here, since I’ve no desire to offend any clients…

The before/after example here, has had a number of automatic adjustments applied – they are all optional, and can be altered in intensity.

using portrait+ on an image

Several automated adjustments combined – before/after.

OK, this is far more than I’d do with a typical corporate headshot, but what takes but a moment in Portrait+ would have taken me quite some time in Photoshop.

There are a number of preset options to choose.

preset software adjustments

The software detects facial features in the photo (multiple face are OK – up to 30) and allows you to edit each part individually or as a group.

refining results of facial feature detection

Refining results of facial feature detection

The detection is good, but not perfect, so for fine detail, such as the ‘fake’ eye-lashes, more refinement may be needed to get them positioned correctly.

refining detection of eye shape

Refining detection of eye shape

Don’t think that the results are always too strong for what you might want. This example has a very light application of the adjustments.

light application of processing

 Using the software

The software worked just fine as a plugin on my Mac (Photoshop CS6, OSX 10.9).

I’ll leave to others any discussion about the ethics or desirability of such processing, but it certainly is quick with Portrait+

Colour issues

There is one major issue with the Mac plugin version of this software, and that is that it completely fails to honour the colour working space of your image. That means if you open an image that is in any other colour space than your monitor (which would be almost always), then colours will not be represented correctly in the plugin display.

So, if you’ve a normal display, anything other than sRGB will display incorrectly, and if you’ve a wide gamut display, then anything other than Adobe98 will look wrong, to some degree.  Note that when the image is ‘returned’ to Photoshop, the profile will still be there and correctly interpreted. This means it’s only the display of the plugin that is wrong, there has been no overall change to your image.

For me, the workaround is to use sRGB, which is not that much of a problem since I’m usually supplying images for web use or basic prints. If you’re producing high quality prints and using other spaces, then take note.

ArcSoft have assured me that this problem is being addressed, and I’ll write a somewhat more comprehensive review when the next version of the software arrives.

The program supports batch processing, although I’d be careful to check what it’s done afterwards ;-)

A free demo version of the software is available.


Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8/Windows 8.1 (Support 32 and 64 bit)Windows XP (SP2 or SP3)
Pentium IV 3.0 GHz or above or Equivalent AMD Athlon
1G DDR2 RAM or above (512MB Video Memory or above)
100 MB free hard drive space required for program installation
1366 x 768 pixels, 32-bit or higher recommended
Mac Mac OS 10.7.3 or above
Intel Mac
2G DDR2 RAM or above
100 MB free hard drive space required for program installation
1366 x 768 pixels

Portrait+ PS Plug-in

Windows Support for Photoshop 7.0, CS, CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6, CC and Photoshop Elements 10, 11, 12
Mac Support for Photoshop CS5, CS6, CC and Photoshop Elements 12

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