Processing images in the "RadLab"

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When I stumbled upon the Photoshop actions from Doug Boutwell at "Totally Rad!" I thought I had died and gone to Heaven! I downloaded the free sample pack and was so impressed that I ended up buying a complete set. Though I typically don't do a lot of artistic manipulation/processing of my photos, these Photoshop actions allow me to add just a hint of 'punch' to my images when I needed or a full 'knockout punch' when I want to push my creativity to the edge. It wasn't long before I had to have the complete set, so when their latest product, RadLab, came out I already owned TRA1-The Original, TRA2-The Revenge, and Dirty Pictures.

As a regular follower of the Totally Rad! facebook page and Twitter account and a big fan of their products (obviously!), I was jazzed when they announced the release of RadLab. But then I read that it was pretty much a new packaging of most of their existing actions, not really too many new actions. So my first thoughts were that this wasn't something that I really needed to spend more money on. Afterall, I already had a decent workflow set up with the Totally Rad! actions packs so would this new product really be worth the worth money? Okay, call me crazy, call me a nerd, but after watching the preview video of what RadLab does, I had to have it. Well, plus there are 28 new stylets that I don't have yet in my Totally Rad collection. I splurge. I got it. I don't regret it. Here's why...

Everything that is touted about RadLab being intuitive and simplifying your photo effects processing - totally true. Straight "out of the box" I had a big variety of effects to choose from. I only have to hover over an effect to see it change on my image. Then once I apply an effect, there are simple slider bars to adjust to my liking. It's fun, quick and easy. It's not perfect, there are a few minor things I'd like to see changed, but perhaps those will come in future updates.

Let me give you a little "taste" of what RadLab is like:

First off, to use RadLab, your image must be in 8-bit mode. I like to process my images in 16-bit, but this is not yet supported, so it's not that big of a deal to me right now. This feature is on their "to do" list, though, so watch for it in a future release.

There are two ways to open RadLab. First, in Photoshop, with an image open that you want to process in RadLab, go to your Filter menu and select "Totally Rad" then "Rad Lab" from the submenu and it will open up.

open RadLab from the Filter menu

The other way, which is much quicker, is to use the launcher panel. This has been updated with the latest version (1.1) of RadLab to make it compatible with all versions of Photoshop. The Launcher Panel should show up after you install RadLab. It looks like this:

Launcher Panel

or if it is minimized it will look like this: launcher icon

If you're like me and like to be able to go back and tweek your creations later, then set your Launcher options to "Smart Object" so that when you are done making your changes in RadLab, the changes will be added as a new Smart Object in your Photoshop File:

launcher options
smart object layer

If the Launcher Panel is not running, or you happen to have closed it out, you can easily open it back up by going to File - Automate - RadLab Panel.

Here's a quick screen shot of what the RadLab interface looks like:

RadLab

the image you are working on shows up on the left side. You can view it at its full size or have it fit ot he window, which you can resize as well. Simple click the buttons below the image for "Fit" or "Full." You can also toggle between "Before" "After" "Compare" and "Split." This will let you look at the original image (Before), the current adjusted image (After), see the two side by side (Compare), or have a view of the two combined (Split). The Split feature is pretty cool, here's a Split version of the image I'm working on:

Split

Next to the window withr your image in it, you'll see a bunch of thumbnails with differnt stylets listed. Simply hover over any stylet to see what your image would look like with that applied. In the screen shot of the RadLab panel above, my cursor is over the "Cinnamon Toast" stylet and you can see the effect it has on my image on the left side. If I want to apply that style I click it (rather than hover) and it shows up listed on the right side in the "Current Recipe" section. From there I can futher customize the stylet by easily dragging the slider options to the left or right until I get the look that I want. You can keep adding stylets and adjusting them to create your own unique "recipe."

One of the very cool things about RadLab is that once you've created your masterpiece you can easily save the "recipe" you've created and it will be there for you to use the next time you have an image that you want to process the same way.

Here's the before and after using RadLab:

Before After

I really love RadLab and I'm sure you will too! Totally Rad! now offers a 30-day trial version, so don't take my word for it, grab the 30-day trial and check it out for yourself.

Final Thoughts

What I like:

  • Easy to use, intuitive, right "out of the box"
  • A large variety of stylets to choose from
  • Save and re-use "recipes"
  • Fully customizable stylets
  • Apply adjustments as a "Smart Object"

Features I wish RadLab had:
  • Able to import actions (like all my other Totally Rad Action packs that aren't a part of RadLab
  • 16-bit processing (planned for a future release)

I would love to hear your thoughts on RadLab after you've tried it out for yourself!

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