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AI of PortraitPro 21 Takes Portrait Manipulation to New Level

A representative from Anthropics Technology Ltd. of the U.K. asked me to review PortraitPro 21 Studio software. It uses AI and pattern recognition to give you what I found to be an unprecedented ability to manipulate images of people’s faces automatically.

Like many other portrait software packages, it uses AI and pattern recognition to automatically find faces, hair, eyes, noses, mouths, heads, and chins.

After seeing impressive before and after images, I readily agreed to write a software review. I expected much more work and artistry on my part to get the same or similar results. I was floored by how easy it was and how little I had to do.

I have used Photoshop and similar image editing tools, including specialized filters, for more than two decades. So, the bar for what I consider to be a novel feature is relatively high. PortraitPro 21 achieves numerous innovations that I have never encountered before. It also extends the capabilities of some other applications further than I thought possible.

Several Instagram filters enable the manipulation of facial images. This software takes that control to the next level.

As the name implies, PortraitPro 21 Studio is designed specifically for images (portraits) of people. You do not have to be a photoshop expert or an artist by any measure to use it. PortraitPro Studio and Studio Max allow you to switch easily between Photoshop and PortraitPro for maximum customization. I currently do not have Photoshop on this system, so I am not testing this feature.

All of the features that I tried are done mostly automatically without me selecting anything by hand. I did not use any standard image editing tools like a selector, a clone stamp, a magic wand. It, of course, does have these if you want them.

While most image editing software with filters, a cloning tool, and the magic wand tool employ machine learning or AI for pattern recognition, PortraitPro v. 21 Studio takes it to new heights.

You can automatically manipulate features including eyes, mouth & nose, and hair. Additionally, you have a wide array of face sculpting, skin smoothing, and skin lighting and coloring choices. Furthermore, you can add makeup digitally.

Control panel for facial feature manipulation

Again, some other portrait editing software packages have similar features, but the customization that it enables appears unprecedented.

Another impressive feature that you can digitally manipulate lighting direction. The results of this are subtle but noticeable.

Lighting control panel

To play with the image manipulation, I tried using some high-resolution photos that I licensed from These images have higher resolutions than any camera to which I have access.

I selected a range of photos from to cover several edge cases that I thought might be difficult for the AI to model accurately.

Changing Hair Color with PortraitPro 21

The first thing that I did was to change the hair color in my portrait. I wanted to get rid of or reduce my grey hair. Then, for fun, I made my hair blue.

When you first open a portrait file, it will attempt to find a face. It is usually very successful at this. Your face does not have to be fully showing, aligned horizontally, or symmetrical. It gives a best guess where your eyes, nose, eyebrows, lips, and chin are with thick dark lines.

Me with hair color digitally changed

In a completely unexpected feature, it guesses your gender. (I’m not sure why it does this). The software also lets you see before and after side by side to give you a direct comparison.

Numerous small squares are points along the lines that reveal the feature areas. If it does not accurately select the proper location, you can click and drag the points to adjust the outline to fit the portrait’s features. For most of the images, I didn’t need to change anything. On the other hand, for a few of them, I needed to make some minor changes.

It has many more points that you can move to correct the facial feature selection than any other facial manipulation tool I have ever encountered.

Eye Widening, Lip Plumping, and Neck Lengthening

It can do impressive manipulations automatically. Look at the example I tried below in which I lengthened the neck, made the lips plumper, and the eyes wider, each with a slider.

Girl with eyes widened, neck lengthened, and lips plumped. Original Depositphotos_474714516_l-2015.jpg, Copyright: RostyslavOleksin)

You can change eye color with a single slider, but I found this feature less intuitive than it should have been. You do not get feedback on the on the control panel of which eye color you have chosen. So while the eye color changes from one point to another on the slider, you don’t know which color it is turning into as you slide it along.

The feature of picking contact lens colors was much more intuitive with a grid of numerous choices.

I did find that profile images and especially images where the face is at a strange angle, appear to be least likely to result in accurate first guesses of feature locations. In some cases, it may not even detect a face. Then, you may have to point to feature areas manually.

The only time I encountered this issue was when both faces were in profile and at strange angles with eyes closed. Then, I did my best to select the feature locations. (See the sky replacement photo near the end of the article).

Hair Recoloring of Bearded Man

One of the edge cases that I tried was a stock photo of a man with a long beard. I wanted to know if it would automatically color his beard when I changed his hair color. The answer is yes. I also wanted to know if it would recolor his eyebrows. It does. I switched the hair color to midnight black. I also noticed that the face automatically got paler. (Likely because caucasian people with dark or black hair tend to have lighter complexions.)

Bearded man with recolored hair. Original image: Depositphotos_239613518_l-2015.jpg, Copyright: stetsik

Hair Recoloring Girl Holding of Her Hair in One Hand

What if a person’s hair is separated into a unique shape? Will the hair recoloring work completely?

Woman holding some of her hair in one hand with attempt at hair recoloring. Original image: Depositphotos_407686314_l-2015.jpg, Copyright: VitalikRadko

As I expected, no, at least not on the first try. Hair coloring tends to work with traditional hairstyles. You can change the area of the hair (the hair mask) that it will color. You use the extend and cut-back brushes to add or remove an area from the hair mask. You use this manual color area painting to recolor sections of the hair that it did not previously cover. Using these brushes is the one process that required some artistry.

Girl with hair colored digitally. Original image: Depositphotos_407686314_l-2015.jpg, Copyright: VitalikRadko

However, one hairstyle that I expected to have issues with, a black woman with a curly mane of hair, had no problem recoloring in the image.

Black woman’s digital hair recoloring. Original: Depositphotos_41293891_l-2015.jpg, Copyright: tobkatrina

Acne Digitally Eliminated with PortraitPro 21

I also looked at skin smoothing and erasing imperfections. For this test, I used a stock photo of a beautiful girl who happens to have acne. I almost completely erased the acne in the image with just one slider to maximize imperfection elimination. Some minor discoloration did remain.

Girl with acne digitally eliminated. Original image: Depositphotos_68192669_l-2015.jpg, Copyright: realinemedia

I expected much more artistic work on my part to reduce the appearance of acne.

Adding Makeup Digitally

PortraitPro 21 Studio also gives you the ability to add makeup. Don’t worry if you have never touched makeup in your life. As long as you know what type of makeup does what, it will apply makeup for you.

I have seen this on android and iPhone apps. Also, cosmetic companies such as Loreal and Maybelline have apps for this. In these cases, colors are limited to what the company sells.

The most prominent makeup to add is lipstick. Mascara, eyeliner, and rouge tend to be more subtle. It does it expertly based on several sliders and color pickers. This feature has been around for some time. The infinite color selection adds customization that I have yet to see anywhere else.

I tried applying makeup to a black woman’s face, and it worked flawlessly. I read about how black representation in the modeling world is often lacking, so I was somewhat surprised. Oddly, it did misclassify this black woman as a man. However, you can fix this misclassification with one click.

Black woman with digitally added makeup. Original image: Depositphotos_41293891_l-2015.jpg, Copyright: tobkatrina

Sky Replacement

I tried out a new feature in this version, a sky replacement method. This sky replacement worked quite well after I adjusted the mask of where the sky should be. Unlike the mask of the hair, I just clicked on the area once. Then, it was able to use the color similarity to find the proper area quite easily without resorting to brushes.

Sky digitally replaced in an image of a couple. Original image: Depositphotos_210829618_l-2015.jpg, top-right, Copyright: IgorVetushko

PortraidPro 21 Studio also has batch processing on multiple images at once. I didn’t get a chance to use this. I could imagine using batch processing on frames of a movie.

The software has two issues that I would absolutely fix on the next iteration. First, sometimes when you attempt to save, it saves successfully but quits the program. The other is labeling a black woman as a man.

This mislabeling problem is likely the result of having too few black women in the training set. This issue is by no means unique to this software. Many AI algorithms tend to use publicly available data sets. These data sets may not include adequate representation of gender, skin tones, races, and other facial and hair distinctions. I previously wrote about this in my blog,

Overall Rating

Overall, I am highly impressed with the software and its innovations. I would rate it a solid eight out of ten because of its powerful capabilities.

It is not perfect in selecting facial features and hair or in manipulating them. However, it is the best automatic facial image manipulation tool I have ever used by far.



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Experienced technical content writer and data analysis ninja