PicTreat Provides Instant Face Retouching

PicTreat is a free online application that allows you to quickly and easily retouch portraits using patent-pending face detection and correction technology.

By “correction”, they mean the application can make your skin “smooth and shiny”, remove “irritating skin flaws”, fix red-eye, and correct color balance.

While we would prefer not to promote our culture’s obsession with outward appearance, we wanted to examine the technology behind this application.

Here’s an example of a before and after displayed on the front page:

To test exactly what the application does to a portrait, I decided to use the portrait of President Obama that I referred to recently. However, the app apparently couldn’t find any “blemishes”, and returned a nearly identical image — albeit with mildly smoother skin.

Thus, I decided to test how the service retouches a photograph by altering the photograph manually. Using Photoshop, I added some red-eye, added some spots to his face, and gave the photo a green tint. Here are the original, altered, and PicTreated images:

The app successfully corrected the artificial red-eye, restored the color to almost what it was originally, and left the random spots I added alone (which it should, lest it remove things like birthmarks).

In spite of the interesting technology behind PicTreat, many may find the app offensive due to the fact that it intentionally removes such things as freckles (a taboo among photo editors) and uses the slogan, “everybody’s perfect”.

What are your thoughts on this kind of service?

Image credit: Obama portrait by the Obama-Biden Transition Project