PI XL Polished Portrait Technique

This tutorial shows you how to create a polished, pearlized effect for portraits and other special images. The technique works well on photos as well as Poser post renders, which is how I've used it in the image below.

polished portrait

Some of you may know that I've recently begun making Poser characters. My Ophelia for Victoria 3 is going to serve as the model in this tutorial. I've modeled her after Waterhouse's Pre-Raphaelite paintings of Ophelia. You can get the UFO object for this tutorial here, or use a photo of your own.

Open ophelia.ufo in the work space. I've rendered her in amber light and placed her against a beautiful, satiny background by Jaguarwoman, which harmonizes with her skin and hair color. Hit Ctrl+D to make a duplicate of the image. Work on this duplicate for now.

Open up the Quick Command Panel (number 1, circled). From the Task tab, select the Soft Lens task. The steps in the task are listed sequentially. Deselect the preset for Gaussian Blur (number 2, circled).

select soft lens task

This Soft Lens task enriches color and creates a soft, gauzy look. But the default preset for Gaussian Blur is too powerful for the effect we want to create. By deselecting the default, the task will stop playing at that point so you can edit the amount of Gaussian Blur.

Click the Play button to run the task. When the Gaussian Blur dialog box opens, edit the Radius value to 1. This creates minimal blurring. Click OK.

gaussian blur box

You should see a big difference in the edited image. Next, choose Effect, Photographic, Diffuse Glow. Edit the Threshold, Degree of glow and Graininess values to those shown below. Of course, if you are using a different image, you may need to use different values.

edit diffuse glow values

These settings will add a pearly glow with a bit of grainy texture to the image. Click OK. Now the edited image looks very different than the original. In fact, you might like this image just as it is now. You can see a side by side comparison below.


Let's take it one step further. Copy the edited image into the Clipboard (Ctrl+C), then paste it into the original image (Ctrl+V).

Right click on this object and choose Properties to open the Object Properties dialog box. By editing the Merge method of the object, you can create unique and artistic effects. For this tutorial, edit the Merge method (circled) to If Lighter. This Merge method will allow lighter parts of this object to remain prominent, while leaving the darks in the underlying base image strong. Click OK.

edit merge method

Right click and Merge All.

Again, you may be happy with the edit just as it is. If you want to add back a little sharper detail so that the lines of the eyes and lips are more clear, it's easy to do. The simplest method is to scrub lightly over the eyes and mouth with the Sharpen Retouch tool.

Alternatively, you can copy the image into the Clipboard and then paste it back into the base image. Choose Format, Focus. Select the thumbnail shown below, which strikes a good balance between too blurry and too sharp. Click OK.

focus settings

Sharpening the Focus this way will likely sharpen a bit too much. Right click and choose Properties again. When the Object Properties dialog box opens, edit the Transparency to 50%, or a value which you think looks appropriate for your image.

edit transparency

Right click and Merge All. You can see the results of this polished portrait technique full size here.

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