Perfect Layers 1 review
Perfect Layers brings Photoshop-style layers to Lightroom and Aperture, and can be installed as a plug-in to these programs, or act as a standalone application. Opening an image in Lightroom, for example, will give you the option to send it to Perfect Layers (via the File > Plug-In Extras menu).
Multiple images can be selected and transferred in this way to create a new file in the Perfect Layers interface, where each image is presented as a layer. The resulting file is saved and stacked with the selected image in Lightroom. The new images in the Layers Panel can be adjusted using Opacity settings, trimming (crop), position, and blending options.
A transform tool lets you change the layout, size and rotation of each layer. Mousing over the blending options gives a preview of their effect on the composite image on the canvas.
The other plus point for Perfect Layers is Masking. The Masking Brush allows you to paint out (or paint in) areas of the image to be masked. Brush size, feather and opacity are all adjustable. If you’re familiar with the clone tool or layer masks in Photoshop, you’ll have no problem; as long as you make sure you’re on the layer you wish to hide, painting out areas with the Masking Brush is fairly straightforward.
Perfect Layers offers two masking tools – a brush for painting out detail and the Masking Bug to replace larger areas
The Masking Bug applies a rectangular mask as a default setting, and comes in useful for quickly swapping out large areas of the layer, such as skies. You can change it to a circular mask to create round, feathered masks or vignettes. There are controls for the width of the mask, the appearance of the underlying grid, the size and angle of the mask, and the opacity of the mask and the layers
A contextual menu to select images in the host application would streamline the workflow and make for better integration, but otherwise Perfect Layers provides a cheaper way to work with composites and masking than Photoshop – as well as being less of a drain on resources.