How to Hide Faces and License Plates: Learn to Use Anonymization

Blurring faces and covering license plates. These may not sound like typical photo edits, but they’re a frequent task not just for photographers, but for staff in small business, corporate, and government positions too. And due to the GDPR, this is truer than ever in Europe. Luckily, both of these edits are easy with a little help from the right software. And ZPS X includes simple and useful tools for anonymizing both faces and license plates.

The Anonymize feature can hide both faces and (European) license plates in just a few clicks. Zoner Photo Studio X can automatically detect and mask these elements in a photo. Let’s take a look at how to do it.

Turn on the Anonymization feature in the Develop module.

We’ll be working in Develop this time around. Zoner Photo Studio X doesn’t have this feature turned on automatically, but it’s easy to turn on—click the button at the top left of ZPS X to roll out the main menu, and then go to the View menu, then Preferences. Then in the Preferences window, go to Other and check the box named Show tools for work with documents in Develop. For users of ZPS X with corporate licenses, this option is turned on automatically.

How to Hide Faces and License Plates: Learn to Use Anonymization

Roll out the main menu, then go to the View menu, and then Preferences.

How to Hide Faces and License Plates: Learn to Use Anonymization

In the Preferences, go to Other and check the box named “Show tools for work with documents in Develop.”

And you’re done. The right panel in the Develop module will now show three new buttons—Highlighter (P), Anonymize (N), and Annotations (T). Naturally our interest here is in Anonymize.

How to Hide Faces and License Plates: Learn to Use Anonymization

Activate the Anonymize tool and you’re ready to go!

How can you hide faces in a photo?

It’s very simple. Now that you’ve activated Anonymize, just click Detect Faces. Zoner Photo Studio will find all the faces in the photo for you.

How to Hide Faces and License Plates: Learn to Use Anonymization

Click on “Detect Faces,” and Zoner Photo Studio X will take care of the rest.

 Use the tool’s settings to define whether the face is covered up with a circle or an ellipse and to choose an anonymization method. The methods available are pixelizing the face, blurring it, or covering it with a color of your choice.

Use the Intensity slider to set the strength of the anonymization; use Gradient Width to get a smoother or rougher transition between the “masked” face and its surroundings. If you don’t like the placement of the mask, you can reposition it manually.

How to Hide Faces and License Plates: Learn to Use Anonymization

Choose a Method for the anonymization and set its Intensity and Gradient Width. If you don’t like the positioning of the masking ellipse or circle, you can rotate it or reposition it easily.

Once you’re satisfied with the result, click Close. And you’re done. Naturally this feature can be used on group photos too—ZPS can still detect individual faces even in photos that have lots of them.

How to Hide Faces and License Plates: Learn to Use Anonymization

Face detection works reliably on group photos too.

If you only want to cover some of the faces in a group photo, click the mask over each face you want to reveal and press Delete.

How to Hide Faces and License Plates: Learn to Use Anonymization

You can also hide just selected faces in a group. To leave a face out of the anonymization, click its “mask” and press the Delete key.

Very rarely, the program might miss a face. In those cases, you can set a masking region manually—just click the desired spot to create the new mask. Then adjust its size and location as needed.

How to Hide Faces and License Plates: Learn to Use Anonymization

If anyone’s face gets skipped, just click in the face that you want to hide. Adjust the masking size and location as needed, and you’re done.

How Do You Hide a License Plate?

First off, we’d like to note that license plate detection is optimized for European license plates and is not guaranteed to work well on US license plates. With that out of the way: the process is nearly the same as for hiding faces. The main difference is that you need to click on Detect License Plates. Zoner Photo Studio X then finds all the license plates in the photo and masks them. To adjust this masking, use the same steps as you would for faces.

How to Hide Faces and License Plates: Learn to Use Anonymization

Click the Detect License Plate button…

How to Hide Faces and License Plates: Learn to Use Anonymization

…and Zoner Photo Studio X finds all the license plates in the photo and masks them.

If it isn’t able to detect a license plate automatically, click on the plate and set up the masking manually. However, for European license plates, this should be a very rare situation.

Like the sound of these new tools for quick anonymization? Download Zoner Photo Studio X, and you’ll enjoy 30 days to try out face and license plate anonymization and more for free!

Last updated 3. March 2020

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Author: Jaroslav Krezek

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