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PortraitPro 21 Review: A Comprehensive Editor for Portrait Photographers

PortraitPro 21 review a comprehensive editor for portrait photographers

It was only a few months ago that I reviewed Anthropics PortraitPro 19, where the ease of use, the speed, and the AI technology really impressed me. Here we are only a few months later, and Anthropics has introduced PortraitPro 21. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy to see what has improved, what is new, and whether the updated software is worth the investment.

Also, spoiler alert: We have a special offer at the end of this PortraitPro 21 review, so make sure you take a look!

PortraitPro 21 review

What’s new in PortraitPro 21

As always with Anthropics, there’s a long list of new features that really make PortraitPro 21 stand out. These include:

  • Sky replacement
  • Lighting brushes
  • Clone tool
  • Denoising/Sharpening
  • History tool
  • Color styles
  • Color copying
  • Hair highlights

There are actually even more new features, including a master slider for skin lighting and coloring, layer presets, optimized color-space handling, the ability to move catchlights, SVG backgrounds, new layers, backgrounds and overlays, free stock photos, and new tutorials from the creators.

If I offered an in-depth discussion of every new feature, you would probably be reading this for days. Instead, why not go and download your free trial of the software on the website? That way, you can check out the program for yourself. 

In the meantime, let’s look at some of the new PortraitPro 21 features in greater detail.

PortraitPro 21 review before and after

Sky replacement

This feature is one that portrait photographers will love. There is nothing worse than capturing amazing shots against a blank sky, knowing you will need to edit them later. Swapping the sky on multiple images can be laborious and time-consuming. But in PortraitPro 21, replacing skies can be done with the click of a button.

Using technology from Anthropics LandscapePro software, this feature does not simply mask and drop in the new background. It also changes the color and tone of the image to match the new sky, giving a more natural result.

PortraitPro has quite a few skies for you to choose from, but if you are looking for something specific, you can always add in your own. 

Sky replacement examples

Lighting brushes

PortraitPro 21 includes a series of lighting brushes. These can be used to create specific effects such as light streams or realistic relighting elements. 

You are able to select exact colors and alter the strength of the brushes, which allows you to quickly get the perfect effect. These brushes are able to separate the background and foreground for you, so you can really get creative. 

Lighting brush effects PortraitPro 21

Clone tool

The addition of the Clone tool means you can remove troublesome areas from your photos. And the presence of the Clone tool means there is no reason to use other software to perfect your edits.

As with all tools in PortraitPro 21, the Clone tool is easy to use and allows completely adjustable precision so you can get the exact result you want.

Ultimately, it’s a great addition to the feature set of PortraitPro. And while it is a tool that most will recognize and is not as groundbreaking as others, it’s one that will be hugely appreciated by all users.

Using the clone tool in PortraitPro21


Denoise and sharpening tools are another new addition to this version of PortraitPro.

Yes, these tools are available in other editing programs. But as you are probably beginning to see, the addition of these features to PortraitPro 21 means that you have no real need to switch between programs to get your final result – making PortraitPro 21 a more all-in-one editing solution for portrait photographers.

PortraitPro 21 review

History tool

The History tool continues the trend of the Clone tool. It’s a feature that users of other editing software will be well aware of, and it’s highly valuable.

Specifically, it allows you to move back to a specific point in your edit so you can rework an image without needing to start over. 

The history brush in PortraitPro 21

Color styles

Filters will be familiar to everyone who reads this, because we frequently have these in our social media apps.

PortraitPro now includes a series of color styles that can dramatically change your image in just a few clicks.

Color styles examples in PortraitPro 21

Hair highlights

PortraitPro 21 features a variety of new tools for working with hair.

These include tools that add highlights, as well as change hair color and vibrance. And you can fine-tune these to achieve “salon-level” results.

Hair highlights in PortraitPro 21

PortraitPro 21 review: Performance

As always, I spent some time getting to grips with PortraitPro 21. Having used previous versions, I was familiar with the interface. But as with PortraitPro 19, I was amazed by Anthropics’s excellent tutorials. 

In fact, there are many more tutorials in PortraitPro 21, which give new users confidence right away. Even as a previous user of PortraitPro, it was good to go through a series of tutorials on the new features. These allowed me to immediately understand what is possible in PortraitPro 21. 

I started with the hair tutorial, which gave convincing results quickly and easily. From there, I fine-tuned to my liking. 

Hair features
I loved how the tutorials helped me get started, but then I fine-tuned to my own taste.

After that, I experimented with the new sky replacement feature. Due to my lack of outdoor photography over the last 12 months, I used the tutorial image as a starting point for this feature, and the results were impressive.

Changing the sky on the test image highlighted the importance of choosing your replacement sky wisely. Certain skies won’t work on certain images.

However, Anthropics has included so many different skies for you to choose from that, for every situation, there will be a replacement sky that matches your scene. Again, the ability to fine-tune really allows you to dial in the detail and increase the realism. 

Sky replacement in PortraitPro 21
There are so many different sky options built into the software.

Using TIFF files

After working on the many image tutorials, I wanted to use some of my own images. I always feel this is the real test.

And I was hugely impressed.

My images worked exactly the same as those in the tutorials. Everything was fast, and the software’s AI technology picked features out flawlessly. The highest compliment I can pay the software is to say that I didn’t notice any slowdown between the images I used myself and those in the tutorials. 

Face selection AI demo in PortraitPro 21
Even with a shallow depth of field, PortraitPro 21 picked out the face almost perfectly.

To push the software, I used 16-bit TIFF files in the Adobe RGB color space. The images opened fast, and PortraitPro 21 picked out the features flawlessly. Applying presets took a little longer than the test images, but considering I was working on 16-bit TIFF files, I was really impressed. 

I loved the fact that little tips popped up in the bottom corner of the screen, reminding me of how to tweak things. I used an image with an incredibly shallow depth of field to test the feature-finding abilities, and again, I was very impressed.

For the first image I tested, I used the Clone tool to remove a couple of small blemishes. Even though I was editing TIFF files, the software worked perfectly.

With the blemishes cloned out, I simply added a preset and tweaked it to taste. I had a finished image in less than 5 minutes. This was much quicker than when I edited the image manually. One quick and simple export later, I had a beautiful image ready to go.

Before and after retouch
This full retouch only took 5 minutes.

The only thing I will say is that some of the presets are a little more extreme than my personal style. However, the great thing about PortraitPro is that you can create your own presets simply and easily.

In fact, I tend to do this on a shoot-by-shoot basis, starting with a preset and tweaking it to suit the shoot I am working on. I can then apply these presets quickly and easily to the whole set of images from the shoot before sending proofs to a client.

Working with presets is taken to a whole new level with the Studio Max version of PortraitPro 21, where you can batch process several images in seconds.

Batch processing

Setting up a batch of images in PortraitPro
Import images, select your style, and click Go. Batch processing is an incredibly powerful feature in PortraitPro 21.

For a working photographer, the batch processing in Studio Max is a huge timesaver when you need a consistent retouch across a range of images. PortraitPro’s face recognition means that you can trust the software to pick up the face and apply the retouch for you automatically.

To test this feature, I exported full-sized JPEGs from a styled shoot. After creating a look with a single image, I used the batch feature of Studio Max to apply this style to a group of ten images. In less than one minute, all the images had saved and were ready to go. I simply clicked two buttons.

This feature alone changes how I deliver portrait and headshot proofs to clients. For so many working photographers, batch processing is going to be a game-changer. Imagine being able to deliver headshot proofs to clients with such little effort.

batch of images from a wedding photoshoot
A variety of poses didn’t fool the software. Everything was ready to deliver in under a minute.

Who is it for?

In my last review of PortraitPro, I said, “PortraitPro is an amazing tool for those who are new to retouching portraits. It is simple yet incredibly powerful, and gives you pleasing results within seconds. However, it offers much more and encourages you to go back to the software and personalize your retouching.“

So much has changed since then. In fact, PortraitPro 21 has more features that make it even easier for me to recommend. It is possibly the most feature-rich portrait editing software out there. 

If you’ve loved previous versions of PortraitPro, then you will love this even more – especially with the special offer for dPS readers (see below!).

Note that there are three PortraitPro 21 versions: Standard, Studio, and Studio Max.

PortraitPro 21 Standard is great for many people. It is a standalone software that allows you to work with JPEG or 24-bit TIFF files. For many photographers, this will be perfect. 

By upgrading to PortraitPro Studio, you get the Photoshop/Lightroom plugin that so many of you will love, as well as the ability to work with RAW, DNG, and 48-bit TIFF files. It also has color-space conversion. 

Finally, for those who shoot professionally or need the ability to retouch a batch of images in a few clicks, the Studio Max version of PortraitPro 21 will save you so much time (and professionals all know time is money!) that I cannot help but recommend it. 

Sounds amazing! How do I get it?

You can download your free trial of PortraitPro 21 right here.

But if you’re thinking about purchasing the software, note that there is a 50% off launch offer, plus dPS readers get an extra 15% off with the coupon ZC1990. So click here to grab your discounted copy of PortraitPro 21!

Anthropics is a paid partner of Digital Photography School.


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Carl Spring
Carl Spring

Carl is a Lincolnshire living, skateboard-riding, Rock N’ Roll listening, pet-loving, trainer-addicted photographer.
Along with his wife Lisa, they photograph weddings and portraits under the name 166 Photography
Carl has also spent many years photographing musicians and extreme sports. You can see more of this work on his website

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