Popular apps like Instagram spit out highly stylized images, but what do you do when you simply want a portrait to look nicer? I put Portrait Professional 10, a $39.95 automated airbrushing software package for Windows and Mac, through its paces.
I dug through my photo archives, looking for portraits in need of some TLC. My top candidate turned out to be the fortune teller animatronic from an antique machine at Tinkertown in New Mexico.
The fortune teller suffers from an overwhelming makeup job, lots of wrinkles, and a ruddy complexion with visible pores. Time for some magic.
The software requires you to line up blue lines with the facial features of your subject and then let it rip. The automated results did lessen some of the lines and smooth out the skin tone on the fortune teller, but more tuning was needed.
I went to town on the fine-tuning sliders, removing imperfections, giving her a tan, applying synthetic skin texture patterns, and using a touch-up tool. By the time I was done, I had knocked about 25 years off the fortune teller.
OK, Portrait Professional works on people faces, but how about other species? I glammed up a photo of one of my CNET technology test cats. The software smoothed out the fine particles of dust clinging to his fur. If I were to upload this to Match.com, all the lady cats would think he's much younger than his actual 14 years.
I've learned a few things in my test drive of Portrait Professional. It is possible to recapture your youth, if you have the right software. Your old high school classmates on Facebook will be amazed at how well you've aged, provided you don't show up in person to your 20-year reunion. Finally, I learned cats deserve glamor shots, too.