Sleeklens Portrait Perfection Collection Photoshop Actions.
I was recently contacted by Sleeklens and asked if I would like to try out their Portrait Perfection Collection set of Photoshop actions. I’m not a big actions user. For portrait work, I kind of have my workflow down, and I know my way around Photoshop, so if there’s a look I want, I can pretty much make it happen. And honestly, in the past, I’ve tried some actions and wasn’t all that impressed.
But I love trying new things, so I agreed to do the review. I really went into this with an open mind.
[Sleeklens provided me with these actions in exchange for an honest review. Complete disclosure information can be found here.]
Before I go on with any technical stuff – here’s a sample image with the before & after. The before is just the RAW file without any adjustments. I also left the white balance as it was straight from the camera; auto white balance. I am really a sucker for backlighting in portraits. And if you’ve done this at all, you know that unless you fill in the light on the face somehow, either with a reflector of some type or a fill light, the faces can go dark and the color temperature goes cool. In fact, in this image the face is dark and also picked up a lot of the green reflecting off the plants and grass all around her. That’s not a good look.
I’d love to tell you that I have the exact recipe for how I processed this image with Sleeklens, but I can’t. Like I said – lots of playing around. But this much I can tell you – every thing on this image was done with the Sleeklens actions. I didn’t do any adjustments at all. No levels, curves, color adjustments – nothing – outside of the actions. Maybe I went a little overboard with this file, but I still like the results.
The actions loaded up like any other action – no problems there. Sleeklens does provide instructions for installing them, so if actions are new to you, they’ve got the technical stuff ready to go for you. In fact – here’s the install video:
Once installed, I spent quite a bit of time playing round with these actions. The structure of the actions is very logical, which I like. They’re clearly labeled and I used them in the order they were offered (for the most part). By that I mean I used the actions towards the top first, and then layered the effects as I moved my way down the list, selectively, of course. Here’s a screen capture of the actions installed. If you click on the image you can view it larger.
I experimented a lot with the Sleeklens actions. It was actually very fun. And that’s saying a lot – because I spend a lot of time in Photoshop for work. And I mean a LOT of time. My poor Fitbit does not see nearly the numbers it should because I’m at the computer so much.
Sample Images – Before & After
After spending some time with the actions, I can tell you this – if you like a warm, sun-kissed look to your portraits, you’ll like these actions. The images I tried that I liked the best were the ones where the focus was really on the face. Like this one (it’s on the screen shot above, but it was my favorite one so you’ve got to see it by itself.) Look at that warm glow! And look at her skin – I didn’t clone any blemishes & I didn’t use the healing tool. I also didn’t use my Portraiture plugin on her skin. Everything you see here was accomplished with the Sleeklens actions.
One thing to keep in mind is this – the actions add adjustment layers with masks – so if you like how an individual action looks on part of the file and not on another part, you can simply mask out the part you don’t like – either completely or partially. You can also adjust the opacity of the action-generated layers to reduce the effect if it’s just too much for you.
Here’s another sample:
Like the first file in the top of this post, the file right above has a color cast on her skin from all the greenery around her. There’s also a strong green cast on the right side of her dress. In the after photo, the color cast from her skin is gone, and mostly gone from the dress. The color of the portrait overall is softer, warmer and in my opinion, more pleasing to the eye.
In this next file I really didn’t like the color cast in the original. I purposely tried to go for a different look than the images above by using the “Temperature – Cooler” action. I like the way it pulled out the overly yellow undertones. In looking at this file now I think I should have masked out the guitar as I was going. I think the color of the guitar in the bottom image is better, but the top (before) image hides the smudges on the guitar better. But this is reality – so I’m leaving it as is. I suppose it’s something to watch more carefully for in the future.
The verdict: Do I recommend the Sleeklens Portrait Perfection Collection Photoshop Actions?
I can absolutely say that there are benefits to using the actions. But there are some drawbacks too.
Sleeklens Portrait Perfection Collection Photoshop Actions are a GREAT buy if…
… you’re a novice Photoshop user. Not only will they move you forward in your image editing by speeding up your process, they’re a great learning tool. You can run an action and get a great result (but you could go crazy and get not so great results – that’s really up to you). BUT, after you’ve run an action, you can go in and look at your layers and see what the action has done. Look at the blending modes, the adjustment layers, the opacity – all these things are basic elements that you’ll need to learn to become a more advanced Photoshop user. By having actions that will do the work for you – you get the job done. But then you get to dig in and figure out exactly what these actions did to create these effects.
Sleeklens Portrait Perfection Collection Photoshop Actions are a GOOD buy if…
… You’re an intermediate level Photoshop looking for a change of pace with your editing. Have you gotten in a rut? Do you go over a file over and over again without being satisfied with your results? Maybe adding these actions to your workflow would be a good change of pace. If you shoot portraits outdoors with natural light, they will come in very handy for you. White balance in open shade can really be tricky. Having a tool like this in your editing arsenal would be extremely useful for warming up and bringing vibrance and excitement to your files.
You might want to PASS on buying Sleeklens Portrait Perfection Collection Photoshop Actions if…
… You’re an advanced Photoshop user. These actions are very well written. And they do some clever things. But if you know Photoshop very well, you’ll be able to do this on your own. In fact, you could create your own actions to get similar results. But then again, if you like the results that the Sleeklens actions provides, there’s nothing wrong with buying them and letting someone else do the work for you.
But before you decide, watch them in action here:
What do you think?
If you’d like to check them out further, you can visit the visit the Sleeklens website to read more about the Portrait Perfection Collection actions.
And guess what! This isn’t all that Sleeklens offers. Check out their other Photoshop actions here by clicking here.
And one last image before I sign off. The actions are specifically for portraits, but I really liked the way this came out by using the Sleeklens actions.
I’d love to know your thoughts! Did you buy the actions? Do you want to know more? Comment below and stay in touch!
Sleeklens provided me with these actions in exchange for an honest review. Complete disclosure information can be found here.