Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Make Me Beautiful!

Social media tells me that it's all about the perfect selfie.  Social media also tells me how hard it is to achieve one and offers many hints and tips; how to angle my camera, lighting, makeup must do's... it's endless.  There are even studies that have been done about it.  Apparently having half a forehead in a selfie is a must-have for more followers.  

I'm not fussed about followers, but I am interested in faces.  Happily, I also have one, so I figured what would it take to take the perfect selfie my way?  

I'm not into spending ages perfecting hair and makeup, but I'm pretty handy with photo manipulation.  But as I was reading some guides and nosing around Instagram, I came across a post advertising a couple of apps.  The post claimed they could give me the perfect selfie in seconds.  Considering photo-manipulation and photoshopping are now a standard part of photography and are basically professions in their own rights, I was a little dubious that a couple of apps could do all that without human intervention.  That being said, apps and cameras are getting smarter.  They track faces better than ever before and can even live edit on the go.  So I figured, why not?

The apps I'm talking about are Youcam Perfect and Youcam Makeup.  They're available on both iOS and Android and are weirdly fun.

First up was to try Youcam Perfect on a couple of pictures I already liked.  I challenged the app's Automatic Beautify mode.  That's one tap to make me beautiful.  You can see the originals on the left and the Beautified me on the right.  Not huge amounts of difference, but the skin is definitely smoother, better lit, my smile has been broadened a little and my face is thinner.  Pretty good right? 

My takeaway from that is either that the automatic mode doesn't do all that much, or actually I'm pretty decent in the first place *flicks hair vainly*.  I'm kidding.  Kind of.  I'm complimented maybe.

The next logical step was to see what it could do from scratch.  I wanted to see how beautiful I could become from doing zero work myself in the first place.

I started out with a clean, relatively decently lit selfie.  No glasses; to avoid the weird blue glare they have to save my eyes from the evils of computer screens.  I then followed a few steps in the app that involves tapping an editing mode, moving a slider for how much I wanted to apply an edit then tapping a large tick to apply.

Step 1: Smooth the skin and get rid of any red spots.  Both modes automatically detect the naffness and remove it.  Certainly beats primer and foundation.  You can see the result in the top right image.
Step 2: De-ageing.  Let's reset the clock by ten years or so.  Again, a pretty much automatic detection.  I played with the slide bar it, but I end up looking plastic fantastic, so I went with the app's recommendation.  You can see the younger me at the bottom right.
Step 3: Apply makeup.  Youcam Perfect automatically opens the Youcam Makeup app and applies foundation, blush, eyebrows, mascara and lipstick.  That's the result on the bottom left.

I don't know if I'm impressed or a little scared, but I'm definitely intrigued.  Incidently, M is sitting next to me as I type and just asked if that was a photo of me when I was younger!

The next challenge was to improve on my 'everyday face'.  So rather than lighting myself and getting a good image, I snapped up a 'here and now' picture and followed the similar steps.

You can see how I started on the top left.  That's me most days when I can't be bothered to make much of an effort.  The bottom left image was after running myself through Youcam Perfect.  Next up, seeing what Youcam Makeup can do in its manual settings.
Step 1: Foundation and blush.
Step 2: Lipstick, colour, glossiness and shading
Step 3: Pick my false lashes
Step 4: Eyebrows

I'm impressed once more.  I'd definitely rather use the end result if I had to play pick a profile picture.  Again, M has asked me if that was me when I was younger.

But how about a direct comparison on the same picture to really show off what a few taps can do?

I call this my resting internet bitch face, after discovering this is the expression I naturally pull while browsing the internet on my phone.  To the right, my weekend face when I literally do nothing.  Kind of grey, kind of squidgy.  To the left, a sweep of Youcam Perfect for comparison.  

It sure fixes a hell of a lot of sins...

Yes, when the pictures are inflated you can tell they've been edited, but spending more time over it would remove that air of 'too perfect' to the skin tone and things like that.  I can certainly see why people would use it.

But it raises the question, if I were to use it to represent myself should I?  If I were to be extreme and use it on a dating site for example, I wouldn't exactly be being honest.  In the reverse position I'd be quite miffed if I'd gone for someone based on their picture and then been confronted by a rather different real life version.  But then, what's the harm in hiding a few flaws?  After all, I attempt to do that every day with makeup.

It's a conundrum.  One R wins husband points for by saying with utter honesty that he prefers the originals.  Either that or he's getting better at lying.  Luckily, he's terrible at lying to me, so I'm going to take the compliment that while yes, these apps certainly lived up to how they're advertised, the reality is my actual face seems to be appreciated far more.

Let me know what you think and I'd certainly be interested to see the results of any experiments people try with their own selfies.

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