ArcSoft Portrait+ Review
Portrait+ by ArcSoft is a simple, step by step photo retouching program. It works by using face detection software then applies various filter effects to enhance the photograph.
Aimed at both amateur photographers using a simple work-flow and professionals by adding features such as batch processing, Portrait+ costs around $179 / £112.
The software is available as a download from the ArcSoft website and currently has a 30 day free trial.
Installation and Use
We received a direct link from the company but the software is available to download on the Portrait+ page of the ArcSoft website. Using a slow 512Mb broadband wifi signal, it took no longer than ten minutes to download the files and around 5 more to register the program and launch it.
Launching Portrait+ brings up a very simple layout. The name of the program sits at the top of the page with just four steps below. These steps are a little reminiscent of Lightroom with such a small amount of work to do until export. However, the steps on Portrait+ are much simpler and there's less actual adjustments that are available to the user.
In the top right of the screen, there's a small menu with access to online options such as FAQ and a link to the Home page as well as offline tools such as a handy short cuts display and – unusually – an Options button which brings up just two command prompts that can be turned on or off.
The main portion of the window which is in grey, is the viewing area when you've loaded pictures in. You can mess around with some sample images by pressing the Samples button on the left or you can add your own by pressing the Add Photos button on the right. If you make a mistake, the button underneath will remove them all.
Portrait+ is supposed to do batch processing but it seems like something may have got lost in translation. It's certainly possible to batch import which is essentially multi selection when going to Add Photos. There doesn't seem to be a batch process of editing or face detecting. While the latter is automatic, it won't do it unless you open the picture and allow it to process. A green tick appears on the thumbnail when this is complete. Any pictures that haven't been processed with face detection won't be exported. There's also no batch effect. It would be nice to select an effect and add it to all images automatically. This would be very useful for studio photographers who are using the same light on the same model.
Once the face detection part is complete, you can move into the Select Style section by pressing the tab at the top of the screen. There are 20 effects to choose from. The first three are called Cleanse and range from light to heavy. The next nine options include a Cleanse along with an additional adjustment such as Brighten eyes (makes them bigger), slim face, enhance cheeks, whiten skin etc. It doesn't specify which of the three Cleanse it uses but it looks like the Heavy option. The final eight settings are Makeup. They add a degree of make-up to the skin ranging from Glam, Honey, Paris to Refresh and Smoky Eyes.
To export the images, simply click on the final tab and the export options will come up. The first section of the page shows information about what you've been doing such as the amount of pictures you processed, how many styles you used, total number of images to export (remember, not all will be compatible) and an estimated size of the folder.
Now, if you're downloading a bunch of pictures and you use one filter then yay for you, because it won't take that long. We tried exporting two pictures with different styles on each one; two different pictures, two different styles. The program exported four images. It exports a version of each image with every style you've selected. In a way, we can see what they were trying to achieve with this: You may discover that you like a picture with a different style. Should you decide that you don't want all that, ArcSoft have included a nifty comparison screen to set the edited image against the original and see if you like it or not. To enter this, once exported, press the blue Show Result button. It will open a comparison window. You can then flick through all the versions and delete any you don't want. This is useful if you have one or two pictures but time consuming if you have many pictures and have applied more than two filters. It would also be more useful to have this feature available before export, not after.
The Settings section is to create the file path that the export will take. Choose the folder to save to although if you want to create a new one, you can't do it here. Choose a resize method from Original, Screen size or 640 pixels. Then you can also choose an action for the computer to do after. These include Do nothing, Hibernate or Shut down computer. If you're batch processing a lot of pictures this is definitely useful. It doesn't take long to process the images.