Making a picture with your camera is the first step in making a portrait, but retouching it on the computer is when you truly finish it. If you’re using tools like Photoshop to do your retouching, then it can be a complicated and time-consuming to give your picture the finish it needs. Personally, I like to shoot pictures more than I like to retouch them so I want to get it done as quickly as possible. Let me show you how I use Perfectly Clear Complete to retouch portraits simply and quickly.

Brightness, color, eyes and texture

The four main things that need to be finished in your portrait are brightness, color, eyes and texture, and Perfectly Clear can take care of all of these for you. You could use any of the included presets and get terrific results with a single click, but I’m going to show you how to use the most essential tools manually so you know what’s going on with them.

With your picture in Perfectly Clear, move the Strength slider a the top of the tool panel to zero so you’re starting without any adjustments. Now go to the Tone tab and check the box for Exposure and the button to activate Face Aware. Now click the Low, Medium or High buttons and see the brightness change. With the Face Aware activated, Perfectly Clear will adjust the exposure so the face looks best, no matter how bright the rest of the picture is. That’s powerful — it recognizes the face and keeps it as the most important element.

Any time you make an exposure adjustment, you should also make a Depth adjustment. Move the slider until you like it and toggle between the High Contr and High Def buttons as well.

Color and Exposure settings


Tint Correction is a powerful tool. It’s in the Color tab, and it analyzes the whole photo looking for color problems. Under the strength drop down box, you’ll see it says “Tint has been detected.” If it says that, then activate the checkbox and move the slider. If it’s too much, change the mode to Minimum or Default. In this case, Stronger was the right choice, and the change it made is subtle, but it did remove a slight magenta tint that was over the whole picture.

If you need more color correction, you can open the Finishing Tools tab and use the Temp and Tint sliders for white balance.

Eyes (and teeth)

Finishing eyes and skin texture are usually the most time-consuming portions of retouching, but not with Perfectly Clear. Start with the Face Selection tab and you’ll see that it has already identified your people and their faces. It maps the face relative to the eyes — click Show & Adjust Control Points to see how it has mapped the face. The yellow dots may not always fall right on top of the pupils, but that’s ok. They should usually be placed near the center of the eye socket, but you’ll make adjustments as needed below. uncheck the box and hide the markers for now.

Expand the Eyes tab and slide the Dark Circles up to about 80. This is stronger than you’ll probably use it, but it’s a good way to see what’s happening. It is brightening and reducing the impact of the lines under the eyes, and this tool alone is worth the cost of the software. It reduces the impact without removing the lines. Those lines are identifying characteristics of the face so you shouldn’t erase them. If you’re not seeing much impact, then you may need to adjust the position of the Face Selection dots on the eyes.

I repositioned the markers and adjusted the Dark Circles down to 40.

Next, activate the Eye Enhance slider and notice that it brightens and sharpens the eyes. Go easy with this one, too. I liked 22 for this portrait, but it’ll vary based on lighting and eye shape.

While we’re at it, click into the Face tab and activate the Teeth Whitening slider. You may not see much effect until it gets up to 50, and be really gentle with this — teeth shouldn’t glow.

Skin texture

Perfectly Clear is the best tool for touching up skin texture and small blemishes. Since it already has the face mapped, you don’t have to use any brushes to mark where you want it to work. It even recognizes hair, eyebrows and beard stubble without softening them. Open the Skin tab.

Perfectly Smooth effects the finest details in the skin, like pores and fine lines. Start by selecting Face Only for the Smooth Area and Subtle for the Smoothing Type and gently increase the slider. This tool does what you tell it to, so be careful that you don’t go too far and give your subject plastic-looking skin. A good way to work is to turn it up high and then bring it down. You’ll balance this with Blemish Removal.

Blemish Removal affects the larger features like pimples and wrinkles. It may not affect big pimples because it also won’t affect permanent features, like moles — those will need to be touched up in another tool, like Lightroom or Photoshop. I usually end up with the Blemish Removal slider set higher than the Perfectly Smooth slider so that there is still some texture in the skin which looks natural.

Infrared Removal helps reduce the redness that often happens to skin. It helps with rosacea and blotchy skin, but it also helps with nervousness. When people are in front of your camera, their skin often flushes with nervousness and that extra heat from the skin is recorded as the color red by your camera. this tool is also helpful when alcohol has been served at an event. In this case, the flush in her face is covered with makeup, but it does affect her arms and helps homogenize her skin tone.

Save the preset, save the portrait

That’s the basic stuff you’ll need to do for retouching your portraits. There are more tools here and you should definitely practice with them, but these few steps will get your portrait ready to share. In fact, save these settings as your own custom preset so you can right back to this look with one click. Click the gear icon in the Presets tab on the left side of the screen and click Add or edit preset. Now you’ve got these settings ready with a single click. Save your picture and share it with your subject.

Brightness, color, eyes and skin texture are the primary things you need to retouch in your portraits and Perfectly Clear is the easiest and fastest way to get them done so your subject feels like you did your best to help them look their best. Do the settings above and then save your own presets and get out there and make more pictures.

Portrait Tips come out each week, and you can see them all right here.