Automate for More Shooting Time
I'm always looking for ways to automate processes in my headshot business that allow me to spend less time editing and more time shooting. The bane of my existence is retouching in Photoshop. Not because I don't like editing, I actually love editing and seeing where I can take an image. But it can really suck up a lot of your time. Especially when you have a lot of images to go through.
Let's be real here, time is the one currency in the world you have an unknown limited supply of. Sleeklens' line of products can help you save some of that currency. I'll be reviewing Sleeklens' Portrait Perfection Collection. This is a low-cost portrait retouching solution using Photoshop actions. The collection houses various actions to help speed up your workflow. Some of the actions included in the collection are things that I don't typically use in my Photoshop workflow such as color toning, exposure, color temperature. Exposure and color temperature are things I will always handle in my RAW editor. However having them included in the collection will be nice in the future if I should ever need them. With that said I'm going to go ahead and move forward to some of the actions that I would use in my workflow.
Note: this will not be a tutorial on how to use the actions. This is a basic review of the collection. I was asked by Sleeklens to give an honest review of the collection which is what you'll find in the following content.
Housed within the "From A Candy Store" (a strange title for a suite of retouching tools) section are common retouching processes such as dodge and burn, frequency separation, paint effect, a sharpening action and an advanced portrait retouching action.
Initially when trying to run some of these actions I ran into a few problems. Part of my workflow after RAW processing is to open my file as a smart object. The issue with this is that your first layer is not named "Background" as it usually is when you open it as a rasterized layer. The workaround for this is to rasterize the layer and set it as a background layer. However, you can't just give it the name "Background" and all is well. You will need to select the layer and go to the layer menu > new > layer from background. Or you can simply import the image as a rasterized layer rather than a smart object.
Now that we've got that figured out we're ready to move on. Except, one more thing. You see, frequency separation is bit dependent. What I mean is, if you have an 8 bit image you need to run different settings than you would for a 16 bit image in the Apply Image method that Sleeklens is using in their frequency separation actions. They have actually done this, but you wouldn't know it without looking through the action steps. This is not something a beginning retoucher may know to do so I think some better labeling and/or accompanying documentation would be a nice to have. What I found was that the action labeled Frequency Separation is the 8 bit action and the 16 bit version is nested within the Advanced Portrait Retouch action. Once I figured this out I was able to move foreword with evening out tonal transitions and removing some stray hairs and blemishes.
Two Great Additions
Aside from these minor hangups, the rest of the actions are very well put together. To be honest I didn't think I would end up using some of the actions that I had. Such as the Glossy Lips action. Typically I will just clean up any chapped areas of the lips and call it good but I really liked the added punch you get with this action. The Brighten Eyes action is another that I will be adding to my workflow. I usually will brighten eyes with a curves adjustment layer set to the Screen blending mode. But their action doesn't just brighten the eyes. It seems to have a slight sharpening effect that really brings out some clarity and sparkle in the iris.
In With The Old, Out With The New
There's one action I won't be adapting to my workflow and that is Sharpening. It's not because Sleeklens' isn't good. It is. It's great in fact. However, it doesn't have as much control as the current process I'm using which you can find in my last blog post How to Sharpen Headshots The Right Way.
There was a lot to get through in this collection of actions. You really are getting your money's worth with the Portrait Perfection Collection at $49. It will certainly pay for itself after just a couple of headshot sessions. I will definitely be spending more time with this to refine my workflow and find additional tools from the collection that I can add into my headshot and portrait editing. You can purchase your own copy of this collection over at Sleeklens' website as well as a ton of other action collections for Photoshop and presets for Lightroom.
- Advanced Portrait Retouch
- Glossy Lips
- Brighten Eyes