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Utilizing Luminar’s Accent AI 2.0 for portrait retouching

Skylum Software’s latest update to Luminar 3 includes an all-new “human aware” Accent AI 2.0. The previous version did a great job automatically improving color, detail, tone and depth of an image but now, the new version pushes its artificial intelligence further by recognizing people in the photo and providing skin tone adjustments selectively for a more natural look.

Here’s why the new Accent AI 2.0 is great for portraits.

Quickly developing a portrait

As a member of Skylum’s Education Development team, I received an early look at Accent AI 2.0. I took it through a series of test to see how well it handles my portrait workflow. Normally, I start with the Develop Filter to process a portrait. I ensure exposure is correct, then adjust the various settings — shadows, highlights, black and white sliders — to enhance the portrait.

With the new update to Luminar, I found that in most cases, I can start with Accent AI 2.0 to accomplish a similar effect with just one slider, then continue with my edits.

Different skin tones

Accent AI 2.0 did a great job automatically adjusting an environmental portrait of Florida-based model Luis Morris. Normally, I would apply a few additional steps on darker skin tones to make the retouching look more natural. But Accent AI 2.0 adjusted the background properly and added to the overall effect when I started adding additional filters so I didn’t have to add the additional steps.

Finishing a studio portrait

While recording my Skylum’s Weekend Tips video, I stumbled upon another benefit of using Accent AI 2.0 to finish off an effect. At first, I applied the Brightness / Contrast Filter then added a Filter mask to bring out the Bokeh layer. It worked, but it took an extra step. So I applied the Accent AI 2.0 filter and it automatically adjusted the Bokeh but didn’t harm the subject. This isn’t a normal use you would think of for Accent AI 2.0, but it definitely does the trick.

Apply Accent AI 2.0 when sending images to print

I usually apply a small degree of sharpening to my images when preparing them for printing. Peecho — an Amsterdam-based cloud print company —  graciously offered to print my “The Knight in the Field” image. The final size was 30-by-40 inches and was printed on Aluminum Dibond with Plexiglass.

I knew I need a little extra sharpness printing that large. I applied Accent AI 2.0 and instantly it gave me the sharpness I wanted and improved the depth of the image along with adding an extra pop to the colors. It’s a subtle enhancement that makes larger prints look their best.

How did Skylum develop the “human aware” technology?

I’m not a software engineer, but it’s clear Skylum was able to train Accent AI 2.0 to recognize certain objects more effectively. I do know the engineers reviewed thousands of images to find the common elements photographers used to enhance their images, then trained Accent AI 2.0 to automatically analyze the image and improve color, detail, tone and depth of the image. They also added a new “person” class that didn’t exist before.

Accent AI 2.0 is the photo equivalent of a spell-checker. Basic spell-checker reviews misspelled words then offers a suggestion to correct it. Higher-end spell-checkers such as Grammarly take it further by analyzing the complete sentence and then makes suggestions on how you can improve it. That’s what the engineering team did with Accent AI 2.0, resulting in a more realistic image.

I’m not saying Accent AI 2.0 is perfect for every image, but it’s pretty close. Think of it as the Auto mode on your camera. Use it when you’re in doubt about editing an image or when you want to quickly make an image look better. It will definitely help you save time and is a great go-to filter for portrait retouching.

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