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By Daniel M. East
"Effortless" skin retouching often ends in even more effort -- and is usually more apparent -- but Smooth Skins (approximately US$33) from Digital Heavens (http://www.digitalheavens.co.uk) offers a lot of options, with a lot of support. It teaches all levels of Photoshop users a better way to clean up even dramatic skin imperfections but also gives the pros the natural results they want.
Launching the tutorial first demystified every aspect of the installation and use of Smooth Skins. Like other actions, the set is loaded from within the Actions panel in Photoshop, or by double-clicking on the action file, but Digital Heavens also includes an action that explains what will happen and why. Smooth Skins is clearly for larger image files, supporting both 8- and 16-bit images, but in spite of adding steps to editing your image, the results occur much more quickly.
Once the action splits your image into both high- and low-pass layers (texture and luminosity, respectively), you can select from a variety of smoothing types. Each of the actions produces its own style of correction with as much or as little as you need based on your desired look. Unlike traditional plug-ins, after the actions run, the user applies the results to specific areas by painting on a layer mask. If you don’t love the change, undo is also much faster than with other retouching plug-ins.
When all is said and done, Smooth Skin’s output is natural and the process becomes fun as you play with the limitless possibilities. With a bit of use to become more fluid, this nondestructive skin-correction software can be stacked, blended, adjusted, and corrected with just your eyes as a guide, allowing for quite a retouching feeding frenzy.
Rating: 10 out of 10
(This review is brought to you courtesy of "Layers Magazine": http://layersmagazine.com/ .)