Thursday, April 21, 2011

PREVIEW: onOne Software Perfect Layers

If you read my new PhotoTools 2.6 review, then you know that I feel that this current wave of onOne Software products found in Perfect Photo Suite are some of the best and thankfully the most reliable products they have released thus far.

I’m happy to announce that onOne now has a cool product that fills a huge gap that exists in Lightroom today – the absence of layers support as you’d find in Photoshop. In fact, I’d argue that if Lightroom were to have proper layers support then most prosumers using Photoshop could probably get rid of it and do everything they need in Lightroom alone. I’m pretty sure Adobe agrees which is why we will probably never see layers in Lightroom as it would kill the cash cow that is Photoshop. Fortunately onOne Software has stepped up to the task of solving this problem by creating a product that not only allows you to create layers with blending modes, but it both saves and opens existing PSD files (with some limitations) so some Photoshop users may be able to finally bid farewell to Photoshop once and for all.


onOne already has some neat videos here that show you how this product works, but I thought I’d walk through an example of my own that I did on my MacBook Pro in about 5 minutes. I started by selecting an existing JPEG from Lightroom 3.3 at random. I went to the Plug Ins menu and chose Perfect Layers and this is what I got:

I clicked the Copy button and renamed the layer Multiply Layer as shown above, then I applied the Multiply Blending mode. I then used the brush tool to quickly mask out the grandmother and child as shown here:

Next I set the opacity of the layer to 60% to reduce the effect. Here’s the final result that I saved as a PSD (which ironically seemed to save much faster than Photoshop does):

Here’s the image opened up in Photoshop CS5 as a PSD file:

and here’s the layers it created:

Photoshop CS5 Layers

Aperture & Bridge Support

I’m thrilled to report that Perfect Layers not only supports Lightroom but Aperture and Bridge as well – woohoo! It also is a 64-bit compatible product that can run stand-alone as well.


I was pretty jazzed to see that there’s a tool that can allow me to create layers in Lightroom without the need of Photoshop. In fact, this product is so much lighter weight than Photoshop that I hope to find myself using it sometimes instead of Photoshop just because I hate waiting for Photoshop to start up! I’m pretty excited about that!

When you download the preview keep in mind that this product is still several months away from shipping. It is missing some key Photoshop features that are part of my regular workflow, but I’ve let onOne Software know and I’ve confirmed that some are simply still under development. 

You should also keep in mind that this app doesn’t replace Photoshop for advanced users, so I’ll still have Photoshop. This may be all I need for things like family photos and personal stuff that usually just gets edited in Lightroom only, so for Lightroom only users this is a big win.

Perfect Layers 1.0 will be a free download to all registered owners of Plug-In Suite 5 and Perfect Photo Suite 5.5.

More onOne Software Reviews

Click below to view more onOne Software reviews on this blog:

  • onOne Software's Photoframe 4.0 Professional
  • onOne PhotoTools 2.6 Professional
  • onOne PhotoTune 3.0

    Special Offer

    Visit my Discount Coupon Code page to see my latest special offer details for onOne Software.


    I was given access to a pre-release of Perfect Layers for the Mac to preview, and I may get a commission if you make purchases using the links in this article.

    Press Release

    onOne Software Announces Availability of Perfect Layers Public Preview for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

    New product provides photographers with streamlined functionality for creating and working with layers, offering new creative possibilities.

    Portland, OR – April 20, 2011 - onOne Software, Inc., a leading developer of innovative, timesaving solutions for professional and advanced amateur photographers, today introduced the Perfect Layers Public Preview. Perfect Layers gives photographers the ability to easily create and work with layered files in their workflow application of choice. Perfect Layers supports the creation of layered files that can be opened and edited by Adobe Photoshop software and can be used directly from within Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software, Adobe Bridge and, with the shipping version, Apple Aperture.

    “The impact Perfect Layers is going to have on photographers using Lightroom makes it a game changer!” said Scott Kelby, Editor-in-Chief of Photoshop User magazine. “This is the must-have plug-in for Lightroom.”

    “Through our partnership with the National Association of Photoshop Professionals and from invaluable insight gained from Scott Kelby, we’re excited to get the Perfect Layers Public Preview into the hands of digital photographers everywhere,” said Craig Keudell, president of onOne Software. “We hear from photographers every day, that more and more of their image enhancement is taking place in applications like Photoshop Lightroom and they tell us they need additional tools to let them do even more like easily create composite images, retouch portraits and get creative with blending modes. Perfect Layers will allow photographers to do all of these things. That’s why we’re happy to make this Perfect Layers Public Preview available to the photographic community now so they can start using it to enhance their images.”

    Top Features in Perfect Layers:

    Add Layered File Functionality to Lightroom: The ability to have multiple layers in a single file is a great benefit and provides unlimited creative options when enhancing an image. With the Perfect Layers Public Preview, from directly within Lightroom, photographers can create or open layered files. This means photographers can combine multiple images from Lightroom into a single image. They can also open existing Photoshop documents from within Lightroom. Uses of Perfect Layers include merging two or more exposures of the same scene into a single image and masking in the desired portion of each exposure.Compositing multiple images, such as action shots, becomes a simple task with Perfect Layers. Also with Perfect Layers, Lightroom users can now have access to the power of blending images together with blending modes. Blending layers together is a great way to stylize and enhance a photo as well as to retouch a portrait. Files created with Perfect Layers can be opened by Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements later for additional editing if desired.

    Masking Brushes: Control how much of each layer is visible by using the Masking Brush created originally for PhotoTools 2.6 and FocalPoint 2. Similar to using a layer mask, the Masking Brush can be used to reveal or hide selected areas of a layer. The Masking Brush is non-destructive and can even be re­edited with Photoshop.

    Blending Modes: Perfect Layers brings the power and creativity of blending modes to Lightroom!Blending modes determine how two layers interact with each other. For example, you can blend a black and white version of an image with a color version to get a very dramatic and stylized look. Perfect Layers includes the following blending modes: Normal; Lighten; Darken; Screen; Multiply; Overlay; Soft Light; Hard Light and Color.

    Adjust Layers: The streamlined interface in Perfect Layers contains all the controls needed to size, align and reorder layers. A number of useful blending modes offer the ability to dramatically alter images by changing the brightness, altering the color or even creating special effects. All the adjustments can be easily modified.

    The Perfect Layers Public Preview allows photographers to start experimenting now with a subset of the features that the complete, shipping version of Perfect Layers will provide. The complete shipping version of Perfect Layers will add more features including:

    • Support for Apple Aperture
    • The ability to adjust the image/canvas size
    • The Masking Bug control from PhotoTools 2.6 to create smooth gradient masks
    • Color fill layers and several other new features

    As a public preview release, similar to a beta release, the Perfect Layers Public Preview is not indicative of the final performance and quality of the forthcoming complete shipping version. Technical support is not available for the preview release. Users can submit their feedback on this public preview from within the application.


    The Perfect Layers Public Preview release is available immediately at The shipping version will be available, with additional features, by mid 2011 as a standalone product for $159.95 and as part of the Perfect Photo Suite 5.5.Owners of Plug-In Suite 5 can upgrade to Perfect Photo Suite 5.5, which will include Perfect Layers, at no additional cost. The Perfect Layers Public Preview is a time limited release and will expire on June 30, 2011.

    About onOne Software

    onOne Software, Inc., a leading developer of innovative software tools for photographers, develops timesaving software solutions for professional and advanced amateur photographers. onOne Software solutions have been created to help photographers spend more of their time behind the camera taking pictures instead of the computer workstation. The products include a wide range of easy-to-use applications and plug-in enhancements for Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Lightroom, Apple Aperture applications and the iPhone and iPad. Founded in 2005, onOne Software is a privately held company located in Portland, Oregon. For additional information, visit or call 1-888-968-1468.

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