There’s nothing worse than uploading photos from your shiny new digital camera, and realizing your snaps didn’t turn out as great you’d imagined. Thankfully, the digital age has given photographers the power to repair and retouch their ugly ducklings.
Readily available programs like Apple’s iPhoto and Google’s Picasa come bundled with retouching tools designed for beginners. While handy, these tools merely scratch the surface of what is capable with the grand-daddy of editing suites, Adobe’s Photoshop.
Photoshop has been the gold standard in image manipulation for more than a decade, but its seemingly limitless capabilities can be overwhelming for the everyday snapper. Enter Alien Skin’s Image Doctor 2, a powerful all-in-one Photoshop retouching plug-in designed for both beginners and professionals. It takes some of the most complex and time-consuming Photoshop processes and bundles them into a bite-sized, easy to use plug-in.
Image Doctor 2’s first photographic antidote is the Conceal Blemish filter. This is perhaps the most powerful portion of Alien Skin’s software. Amateur photographers often try to remove facial blemishes manually with Photoshop’s clone and blur tools. The end result usually resembles a horribly distorted Japanese anime character.
Image Doctor makes facial retouching remarkably straightforward. Users can select special settings for removing moles, pimples, stains, and wrinkles, all which work with astonishing effectiveness. Rather than just focus on the blemished skin, the software evaluates the surrounding skin tones and shadows of the entire face. Apple’s iPhoto employs a similar technique, but executes the removal with an unsightly blur. Image Doctor repairs problem areas with a superbly uniform aesthetic and minimal blur. The resulting images look flawless and, more importantly, natural. This is sure to blow the minds of amateurs and save professionals countless hours in the edit suite.
The Skin Softener filter takes skin retouching to the next level. Modern digital cameras have a nasty habit of accentuating oily patches and wrinkles with harsh flashes. This Skin Softener is like a virtual application of makeup. It evens out wrinkles and ousts oil with ease. A manual application of this technique with Photoshop’s brushes can take hours. For pros, the skin softener is an invaluable filter.
The Smart Fill option is another brilliant time saver. Sometimes, great photos are ruined by obtrusive objects. With nothing more than a simple selection, Image Doctor removes these unwanted objects and blends the selection to look as natural as possible. Before Smart Fill, a similar task would take hours with Photoshop’s clone stamp tool.
The great thing about Image Doctor is that it features a relatively flat learning curve without compromising on beefy options for the professionals. Photographers with limited Photoshop experience can jump right in and retouch their photos with excellent built-in presets while the pros can create their own batch of expert settings to meet their retouching needs.
The Image Doctor plug-in can be had for $200 US. That’s chump change for an established photographer, but might scare away amateur snappers with smaller pockets.