By Betsy Finn, Cr.Photog., CPP
Beauty Bar Pro is all about flexibility; the action set runs within Photoshop, and is designed to be an asset to your current workflow. I've never been a fan of image retouching that turns skin to a smooth, plastic texture (or lack thereof). And, I do prefer to individually retouch the images that my clients order. So, the Beauty Bar set from Craig's Actions fits perfectly into my retouching workflow. And chances are, it will fit into your workflow as well. Why? Because you are in control of how much retouching is done. If your retouching is more heavy-handed than mine, Beauty Bar Pro can accommodate your personal preference too. Because Beauty Bar is a set of Photoshop actions, you can tweak them to run the way you want.
This first example is of a typical problem for senior portrait clients—retouching acne. Using Beauty Bar, you can make quick work of even the most thorough retouch. Now, every software/workflow solution has a learning curve. And since I wanted to make sure to get things right, I asked developer Craig Minielly how he would use his action set to retouch this image:
To achieve the most pleasing result (below), Minielly ran Blemish Buster, one of the actions in the Beauty Bar set, twice. The first time he focused on finer settings, removing smaller blemishes (setting: 22/6), and the second time on larger blemishes (setting: 45/10). He also recommended a quick pass with the Blush Less action, and finally enhancing the image with the Beauty Bar Pro Custom Action (to match skin tone and texture). In my first attempt at using Beauty Bar, I didn't achieve these results nearly as quickly as Minielly—his total retouch time for the entire portrait? Three minutes. If I was more accustomed to using them, I do think I could achieve some very efficient editing times per image.
Just as a comparison, here's the same image, retouched using Portraiture. Personally, I think Beauty Bar did a better job preserving details while still removing the blemishes.
There are different actions to use depending on whether your image is a headshot, portrait pose (PT) or a full-length, lifestyle (LS) pose – these actions are optimized to enhance each image to its fullest potential.
In my next test, I've used Beauty Bar to retouch wrinkles. Here's the original image:
I ran Wrinkle Buster on the image, following the prompts, which included brushing over all the wrinkles that I wanted to reduce. Notice that the wrinkles are smoothed and lightened but not removed entirely. This is exactly in line with my retouching principles. I was very pleased with the results (and I achieved this more efficiently using Beauty Bar than my "old" method).
When you run the facial features action (Eye Color, Eye Whites, and Teeth White), Beauty Bar creates a group of layers in order for you to quickly and easily make adjustments:
On the other hand, Beauty Bar can do more than just retouch an image; it can also tweak the style and feel of your image. There are a number of different effects, ranging in strength of heavy handedness from natural (Cosmetic) to highly stylized (Pinup Strong). Here is the Craig's Actions sample gallery.
If you purchase Beauty Bar Pro as part of Craig's WalkAway WorkFlow, you get an extra workflow boost by combining Craig's Preset Fx Treatments with your images before running your retouching batch for print/web output. After a simple setup using the three folders supplied, you can run a BeautyBar Batch Action on your group of images, and it will auto-retouch and save three versions of each final image: one to an archive PSD file, another to print- and lab-ready JPG files, and a final to web-sized and optimized JPG files. Now that's a time saver if you ask me.
Craig's Vintage Boudoir Fx, Editorial Fx, and Essentials Fx Presets are included in the WalkAway WorkFlow Bundle.
Here's a screenshot of all the actions you get in the Beauty Bar Pro set, which has 15 styles, 17 makeup tools, and more than 30 workflow options.
Overall, I was quite pleased with the Beauty Bar action set. There is definitely a bit of a learning curve, and photographers who aren't computer savvy may have issues installing the actions (there isn't an installation executable, you manually place the files in your Adobe actions/presets folder). But aside from that, I don't have any complaints. Beauty Bar delivers as claimed, allowing you to retouch and process images efficiently and spend more time with your family.
Beauty Bar Pro retails for $147. The WalkAway WorkFlow Bundle is $247. Learn more at www.craigsactions.com.