I’m not a fan of automatic image enhancement tools, but Perfectly Clear 3 struck me as a Photoshop plug-in that allows for subtle improvements on portraits without making you look like a plastic Barbie doll. It offers a plethora of presets and a full set of controls too.
Version 3 of this Photoshop plug-in that also works with Apple’s Photos via a workaround the developers explain on their website, provides a major update to the core processing technology, while also providing an easier to use, better-looking interface. To me, Perfectly Clear 3 was brand new.
The app offers a nice dark interface, with some 10 categories of adjustment tools, some of which have strange names. For example, the preprocessing section has an “Image Ambulance” setting, which turns out to let you set exposure corrections manually. More obvious is the “Face Aware” exposure option for accurate auto-exposure corrections in portraits and group photos.
When I loaded a self-portrait — my old skin really doesn’t need the baby face treatment anymore — Perfectly Clear’s auto-correction immediately kicked in and I’m happy to say it kept the Barbie doll look far at bay. The app also shows you the faces it finds in your image. That’s not just for fun; you can actually go in and place eye control points more accurately than the software if you find they’re off. In my case, I needed a slight adjustment downward to centre the controls on my pupils.
I looked a lot better after the app got its way with my face, although the Before/After slider showed me the adjustments to be subtle. Which is not to say you can’t go overboard with this one, but on the whole, Perfectly Clear keeps everything nicely in check. Take, for example, their Black Point tool. It’s designed to deepen blacks and it does, but without taking all the detail out of your shadow areas. The Color Restore tool is one adjustment that does let you go wild, but if you prefer subtlety, the new Color Vibrancy tool is your best bet as it deepens colours, but not over-saturates them.
Perfectly Clear isn’t just for portraits, it is great for landscapes too. Sky and Foliage enhancements enable you to add green or brown to foliage and blue to the sky. However, if you happen to have someone’s face in the frame, you should be very careful with using these controls as they will spill over if the same colour is found in your subject’s clothing for example.
Perfectly Clear 3 is the first plug-in I have used that makes your portraits look their best, quickly and without turning faces into plastic. Its automatic features work extremely well, while its built-in presets offer you a great place to start creating your own unique look from. You can also buy preset packs, all from within the AppManager, a centralised support tool that runs in the background.
I can only recommend Perfectly Clear 3 as one of the few plug-ins I think you should have. It costs €125.65. That’s not as cheap as some of its “competition”, but it beats those by a large margin!