Sleeklens Portrait Perfection Photoshop Actions review by Paul Holland
Sleeklens, a Danish company founded in 2015 by Daniel Chabert, makes workflow products for both Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. They recently asked me to review the Sleeklens Portrait Perfection workflow action set for Photoshop and you can read my opinion on it here.
Portrait Perfection includes 56 Photoshop actions which are compatible with Photoshop 4-6 and Adobe Creative Cloud. The actions work with both JPEG and RAW images and are compatible with both Mac and PCs. I shoot images in RAW and use a PC for my editing and so my review is written on this basis.
Installation was quick and straightforward. There’s a video on the Sleeklens website showing how to install the actions on both a Mac and a PC. I didn’t use it so I can’t comment on the video itself but the support offered on their website seems comprehensive with a mixture of ‘how to install’ and ‘how to use’ guides.
Structure and layout
The Sleeklens Portrait Perfection installation creates the following categories in Adobe Photoshop. I have shown the number of actions in each category in brackets:
- Base actions (5)
- Exposure actions (2)
- Temperature actions (2)
- Colour Correction actions (8)
- Portrait Retouch actions (7)
- Enhance Tones actions (14)
- Vignette (2)
- Light Glow actions (8)
- From a Candy Store actions (5) and
- Web File Preparation actions (3)
- As well as all of the actions shown above, there are also eight All in One actions.
The actions are suitably organised and are what you would expect for a portrait workflow. The additional inclusion of the web file resizing actions is a nice touch and I can see these being very useful.
The base actions
For this review, I went back to some of the photos I shot in our Kendal studio a few months ago. The All in One actions offer one-click results but I didn’t use these, other than to try them out, as I prefer the flexibility of being able to stack the action layers and make subtle changes if required.
The base actions work well offering a choice of base types such as ‘from scratch’, ‘from nature’ or ‘from golden hours’. You can add other actions to change the exposure, tones, and colour, for example. I mostly used the base from scratch but the golden hours base was effective for some outdoor photos so it’s worth trying them all out until you get a feel for what will work best with each image.
A nice feature is the pop-up dialogue box messages that are associated with some of the actions. The messages provide a mixture of information, such as a warning before you run the action that the layers will be flattened, or user guidance after the action has been run, such as informing you to increase the opacity or apply with a brush, to see the result.
Enhance tones actions
Some of the actions I found most useful were in the Enhance Tones category and you can see a few of the results below. You can, of course, reduce the opacity of the action layers to make the effect more subtle but I have shown them here in all their glory so you can see the difference they make:
There are fourteen actions in the enhance tones category to suit all image styles. As you would expect, some of the actions are better suited to outdoor photos or images with darker backgrounds and tones.
Exposure, temperature and colour correction
These three categories don’t need much explanation since their strength is in their simplicity. The two exposure actions are to lighten or darken and the two temperature actions make the image warmer or cooler. The colour corrections provide a way to reduce reds, greens or blues, make colours more vivid and a few other similar actions.
Portrait Retouch actions
I wanted to specifically mention the retouch actions because many photographers will buy the workflow for this feature alone. I rarely use retouch tools, not just because I prefer to get the lighting and the subject’s makeup right before taking the photograph, but because post production retouching can be a time-consuming process if you have hundreds of images to work through, as I typically do. However if you include retouching images in your workflow there’s a good selection of tools to help you and they are all easy to use. The dialogue boxes advise what you need to do to apply the effect and how you can vary the strength to achieve the look you want.
The actions included in the Portrait Retouch category give you the tools to brighten eyes, gloss lips, smooth skin and apply colour or desaturate. When used with the frequency separation and the dodge and burn tools, the set pretty much covers the essentials.
The collection includes a couple of vignette actions to darken the edges of the image. There is a vintage effect vignette and there is a toned vignette which helpfully creates four different colour tone vignette layers. The toned vignette layers can simply be switched on by making the layer visible. This saves time because you don’t need to run a different action to see the effect of each vignette. You can run the action, choose which vignette you prefer and then delete the unwanted vignette layers.
There are also moveable light glows that work well with the right type of image; see the first image of this review.
I am impressed with the quality of the collection, especially for such a young company. Everything seems to have been well thought out, from ease of installation to ease of use. There are supporting FAQs, guidance and videos and I expect more will be added as the user base grows. I personally wouldn’t use all of the features (for example I wouldn’t use the all in one actions) but there’s still enough here for most portrait photographers. Dialogue box instructions make the actions easy to use for all levels of expertise while the image resize actions are a welcome feature.
For the record, I have been supplied with a copy of Sleeklens Portrait Perfection for this review. I am not paid by Sleeklens and the opinions I have expressed are my own.
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