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For me, the perfect photo correction tool would take just a few seconds to use, require minimal tinkering, and vastly improve my photos. PictoColor’s iCorrect Portrait 1.0.1, a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop (versions 4.0 through CS2) and Photoshop Elements (versions 1.0 through 3.0) reaches for this ideal and succeeds.
As its name implies, iCorrect Portrait was designed for portraits, and is targeted to commercial photographers and advanced hobbyists. (PictoColor offers another product, iCorrect EditLab Pro, for advanced color correction.)
Using Photoshop to balance colors and improve contrast can be complicated, and often requires several tools and some image-editing expertise. Since iCorrect Portrait is designed to correct portraits, it brings together all the required tools into one window.
The program is straightforward—just spend a few seconds with each of its settings, preferably in sequence (see screenshot). The result will be optimal white and black points, pleasing brightness and contrast, balanced color, natural-looking skin tones, and accurate “memory” colors (colors from your visual memory that look right to you without being measured or mapped, such as trees, skies, or logo colors).
The program’s Memory Color tool lets you correct up to eight colors that are especially important in the photo. To use the tool, you first define the color, then click on items in your photo that should be that color. iCorrect Portrait then adjusts the image so that these items match the memory color. To define a memory color, you can use one of your Mac’s standard color pickers (RGB, CMYK, Pantone, Lab, or HSB), but the easiest way is to sample it from a good photo.
PictoColor has perfected this skin-tone adjustment program, and it works equally well on any skin color — something that’s difficult to achieve. To use it, click several different areas of skin to sample their colors. iCorrect Portrait provides visual feedback each time you click by briefly highlighting the entire area included in the sample. If the area isn’t what you intended, click the Undo button to try again. After just a few clicks, the skin tones snap into their correct color range. You can correct most photos in less than 12 clicks.
I found iCorrect Portrait’s corrections to be equally effective on other types of photos besides portraits. Its automatic black-point and white-point adjustment cleared up dull photos, and its Brightness control seemed to lighten the most important areas of an image without blowing out detail in the highlights. You can remove color casts by using the program’s Neutral Balance tool to click objects that should be black, white, or gray. Zooming is limited to just two levels: fit-in-window and actual pixels—which took some getting used to.
Because iCorrect Portrait was created for professionals and advanced users, it lets you save your settings and apply them to batches of similar photos. You can even include iCorrect Portrait in a Photoshop action to automate the process.
Macworld’s buying advice
iCorrect Portrait 1.0.1 is a fast and simple way for both hobbyists and commercial photographers to dramatically improve bad photos and fine-tune good ones. I highly recommend it.
[ Jay Nelson has been the editor and publisher of Design Tools Monthly for 13 years. ]iCorrect Portrait works best if you use the tools in order from top to bottom. Remarkably, the skin-tone adjustment tool works with any skin color.