Retouch4me Portrait Volumes: add depth and dimension to portraits


This post is by Jose Antunes from ProVideo Coalition

Retouch4me Portrait Volumes: add depth and dimension to portraitsFlexible settings and a user-friendly interface are the rule for the Retouch4me series of plugins. We tried Portrait Volumes, that automatically adds depth and dimension to the portraits.

How much time do you usually spend retouching? How long does it take to retouch dozens or hundreds of photos? Those questions, asked by Retouch4me on the company’s website serve to promote its Portrait Volumes, that automatically adds depth and dimension to portraits. It makes eyes brighter, emphasizes lips and nose and makes facial contours stand out more.

Having done some retouching myself, both on negatives and final print, back in the 80s – of last century – I am aware of the complexity of the work. It’s easier today, as we moved from print to a digital copy that can be reset if something goes wrong, but it continues to be the kind of work that takes time. Modern tools have helped to reduce the complexity of the task and AI is introducing new ways that, sometimes, look like magic! Although I continue to be cautious regarding some of the uses of AI, it’s clear, trying software like Retouch4me Portrait Volumes, that it can help anyone to get better results when it comes to retouching.

Retouch4me says that “with the Retouch4me plugins, you don’t need to be a professional retoucher to get a high-end result”, meaning that the introduction of tools like this may reduce the number of clients professional photo retouchers get. On the other hand, though, the software may help professionals do their work faster, what means “happy clients” and more hours left to find new clients.

Retouch4me Portrait Volumes: add depth and dimension to portraitsRetouch4me offers close to twenty different plugins

The plugins are easy to operate and, from what we’ve seen, have a common interface – adapted to each different task, obviously – so you do not have to waste time figuring out how to use them. And because everything you need for retouching is in one place, there is no need to search on the Internet for retouching services anymore, or any new software. In fact, from removing dust to whitening teeth, adjusting eye brilliance or removing blood vessels in eyes (!), cleaning backdrops, removing creases and wrinkles in fabric or matching colors, Retouch4me offers nearly twenty plugins – some of the free – for portrait and product photography… some of which can be used in any other type of photography, if the need arises.

One of the AI plugins available from Retouch4me is the Portrait Volumes, which we review here. Adding depth and dimension to portraits by hand sometimes may not be an easy task even for an experienced retoucher. Retouch4me Portrait Volumes is perfect for portraits with soft and even lighting. The app automatically adds depth and dimension to portraits. It makes eyes brighter, emphasizes lips and nose and makes facial contours stand out more.

Retouch4me plugins are not of much use for someone who photographs essentially outdoors and nature, but I was curious about the Portrait Volumes plugin, as I’ve, as mentioned above, done some “light” retouching more than four decades ago, while working at a commercial studio. We did retouch both negatives and final client prints, and I knew some professional photo retouchers at the time, so I am fully aware of how dauting the job can be, more times than people may imagine.

Retouch4me Portrait Volumes: add depth and dimension to portraitsIt works… even on a mannequin!

Not having a model to photograph, I picked some photos shot early of my mannequin used for tests and edited them using Retouch4me Portrait Volumes. The results show that Retouch4me Portrait Volumes works… even on a mannequin. I used the standalone version, as the plugin only works with Photoshop… which I don’t use.

While there is a free panel for Photoshop, that shows all the plugins at once, when using the app standalone you’ll have to save the image after each editing, if you want to open it in another of the plugins offered. It’s not the best way to work but that’s the only viable solution for now – if you want to use them and don’t use Photoshop. If you’re just using one plugin, as is the case here, then the standalone versions work fine.

Retouch4me Portrait Volumes: add depth and dimension to portraitsThe interface is clean and easy to understand. Once you open the image you can choose – panel at the bottom – which type of portrait you’re editing – automatic human scale detection, close up, half-length or full length – which defines how the software will edit the image. Once that’s done you can start working. The app automatically sets the blending of the effect to 100% to give you an idea of what it believes is the correct automatic adjustment, but you’re free to adjust the intensity and, as expected, edit the image.

Retouch4me Portrait Volumes: add depth and dimension to portraitsAutomatic is good, but you can edit if you want

The left panel shows, on top, buttons for showing the original and the preview, and under them four controls: one to adjust the position of the image, one for the painting brush, the third for erasing and the fourth to invert the mask. The panel at the bottom has the already mentioned portrait mode selection and a zoom, so you can check detail and the “Save” options, besides a “Not happy?” button which you can use to contact Retouch4me if you are not happy with the results. They suggest that you send them the photo so they can edit it using their neural network.

For this test I decided to crank up the blending effect to 200, to clearly show what the app does to a portrait. As my mannequin does not have any skin to retouch, the work here is, we could say it, simple, essentially done around the eyes, lips and nose. It’s a “simple” contrast adjustment, but it works and as the app makes facial contours stand out more, the resulting image is more appealing. What’s important is that the app does this automatically or with just a simple click, meaning if you’ve to go through hundreds of images, it will reduce the time you’ve to dedicate to retouching photos.

Although the automatic adjustment does a good work, it can be the starting point for more editing, and the painting brush and eraser – which size can be adjusted – are there for you to take control and define what the final image will look like. The mask allows you to check where the app has adjusted the original, so you can play with the intensity of the effect and the areas needing attention.

Retouch4me Portrait Volumes: add depth and dimension to portraitsAvailable for Windows and Mac

The result is a clear 3D effect added to your image, which will be more or less visible depending on the image itself. I tried it with different portrait images and the app knows what to look for and what type of effect to introduce… usually dark contour of faces and a play of the cheeks to enhance volume. The test image shown here clearly identifies what Retouch4me Portrait Volumes does.

The app is available for Windows and Mac and the more powerful the computer used to do the editing… the better it works. It’s a one-time purchase of a perpetual license with free updates, and three keys for different devices of one user. The price is $99.20 now, with a regular price of $124.00, which might be too much for some and acceptable for those who do retouching for a living and may want/need the help this type of tool brings.

Not having used similar tools or even the portrait editing options available in conventional photo editing software, I am not sure if Retouch4me Portrait Volumes is “the tool” for this type of work. With the introduction of AI – and even before – there are many retouching tools available promising a lot … the problem being that “a lot“ means different things to different people. Professional photo retouchers and photographers who need to retouch hundreds of portraits, though, do seem to like what Retouch4me offers.

Retouch4me Portrait Volumes: add depth and dimension to portraitsDesigned to do one thing and do it properly

Although some will suggest that the high price of each of the plugins makes them less appealing, also because some of them do only one thing, like whitening teeth, others believe that’s what makes them powerful and efficient is exactly that: they are designed to do one thing and do it properly. I did some testing, trying to get the Retouch4me Portrait Volumes to adjust landscapes, flowers and other types of photos, and it did not change them in any meaningful way, so this may be a valid point.

The best way to know if Retouch4me Portrait Volumes is something you want to include in your workflow is to try it, and there is a free version of the plugin that you can download. If you regularly need to edit portraits, this may be the app to use to speed up your workflow.

Retouch4me Portrait Volumes: add depth and dimension to portraitsCurious about what Retouch4me Portrait Volumes can do for your workflow? Try the demo version available on the company’s website. And if you decide it is a tool for you, use the link here to get a 20% discount, not just on this app but on the other apps available from the company. Do try them first, though, to confirm they are the “right tools” for your workflow.