Posts in the on1 Labs category:

ON1 Labs — An all new Perfect Portrait

Posted on June 23, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

One of my favorite things about Perfect Portrait is it finds faces and features in faces, like eyes and mouths, automatically. It makes retouching much faster. It reduces the need to create lots of layers and masks and use brushes. You simply click on a face and adjust the amount of retouching you want. However, with anything that is automatic, it’s not perfect all of the time.

For example, think about when you put your camera in Program mode. Most of the time it gets the exposure right, but on tough photos it is off. Finding faces and facial features is the same way. For a deliberate portrait image with flat light and with the subject is facing the camera it works well. In the cases of profile angles, tilted heads, glasses, hard lighting or small, out of focus faces it doesn’t work as well. In these cases, you have to spend more time to adjust the control points. Having to adjust control points in the past could cause a bit of pain.

For the next generation of Perfect Portrait we will add a way for the user to better direct where facial features are so we can do a better job to set the control points for you. Any adjustments to control points will also be much faster. We will also add a way to skip facial features you don’t want to retouch.

When you start to retouch a face you will click on the eyes and the corners of the mouth. If you don’t care about the mouth, you can skip it (as an example). This gives you much faster and better results on tilted and/or small faces. It also gives you control over what features to retouch.

Sometimes You will need to fine-tune control points, but you will have to adjust fewer of them and by smaller amounts. The video below shows a prototype of this new workflow. You can see how it will work and how much faster and more accurate it will be.. If you like it, tell us, if you don’t tell us that too.


Dan Harlacher


ON1 Labs — What Users Want

Posted on June 18, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

Been watching tech news recently and notice an interesting trend? Both Apple and Google announced new versions of their flagship operating systems. Did you notice what the big new features where in both? – Speed, stability and usability. Whoever thought simply making your apps run faster and easier to use, as opposed to adding in new wiz-bang features, was what users really want. That’s also what our customers tell us. Our top requested feature is “Improved speed” with 89% of users desiring it. Following it closely was “Make it easier to use” at 84%. Armed with this knowledge we’ve set out to improve the speed, stability and usability of Perfect Photo.

ON1 Labs – The Future of Presets in Effects

Posted on June 12, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

Perfect Effects is the most powerful and versatile piece of Perfect Photo. Its power and versatility come from being able to stack, blend and mask multiple filters at the same time, like combining layers in Photoshop or Perfect Layers. It’s also way too hard to use.

Think of it this way. How do you know what filters to use and what order to put them in?

In the past, we’ve tried to help by adding presets and training videos to give users a starting point. Over the years the presets library has grown out of control. Today, we include the ON1 presets and favorites, filter presets and also your presets and your favorites… We feel there are so many presets, categories and tabs its usefulness is hidden by its complexity. It’s time for us to stop and reset.

The goal is to take the power and versatility and make it easy (and fun) to use again. We want first-time users to “get it” and still let power users do everything they are used to doing. Here is our concept of how we want to accomplish both: (Keep in mind these are mock-ups, not the actual finished app.)


Photo: © Bliss Studio

The first step is to simplify the whole preset, filter preset, favorite, yours vs. ours morass. In the future there will simply be presets. We will give you a great set to start, and you will have full control over them. Want to delete ones you wouldn’t use? Go ahead. Want to update a preset we created with your adjustments and make it your own? Done. You will be able to rename and move presets to your hearts content.

Another problem is some presets are similar. We want to reduce duplication and put everything into fewer, logical categories based on the photo type or look you want to achieve. (Don’t fear, every preset we’ve ever made will be available on the ON1 website so you will be able to download your favorites if they don’t make the cut.) For each category we will create a handful of subtle starting-points that combine the right filters for the type of photo you are working on, without any fluff. Then, you can fine-tune the settings for your photo.


We have moved the presets and the stack to the right allowing more room to work on your photo. Notice at the top of the presets the category you are exploring is listed and you can easily jump back to the list of categories. The two buttons at the top allow you to toggle between preset mode and the settings mode. When you explore a category we will still show what a preset looks like on your photo. You will still be able to mark your favorites and search too.


The Settings mode is where you see the stack of filters which make up the preset. This changes a lot too. The Filter Stack and Filter Options are combined together. You can still  add, delete, hide, adjust, blend and mask each filter. There are still suggested settings available for each filter as well. New features are the ability to see the name of the preset you have applied and the ability to mask and blend an entire preset; a feature long time users have been asking for.

We feel these changes will make Perfect Effects easy to use for all users. First time users will create great results faster. Occasional users won’t have to watch a video to remember how to use it, and power users will still be able to do everything they did before, with more flexibility and fewer steps.

So what do you think? Leave your suggestions or feedback in the comments.


Dan Harlacher

Senior Product Manager


ON1 Labs — Color Our Future

Posted on April 28, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

We are hard at work on the next generation of our products. One of our goals is it update and modernize the user interface and user experience. Part of that process is to update the look and feel of common controls like buttons, sliders, etc. We are considering adding an accent color for the first time. The accent color makes it easier to see what is selected and when something is on or off. Below are two accent color options, plus the silver that we currently use. Tell us what you think! Don’t like any of them? Leave a comment below.


on1 Labs — Luminosity Masking

Posted on March 24, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

Luminosity masks are an advanced technique that allows you to blend layers (or effect in Perfect Effects) together, and modulate the amount of blending using the brightness of the photo. Wow, that was a mouthful. Let me give you an example to explain.

Let’s say you are working in Perfect Layers and you want to lighten the shadows in your photo. A simple way to do that is to duplicate the layer of the photo and set its blending mode to screen. If you are following along you will see that that the entire image becomes brighter. You will have more detail in your shadows, but at the cost of the highlights getting brighter too. You could use the masking tools like the Masking Brush to paint back in the highlights but it may take time and may not look as natural as you would like. This is a great time to use a luminosity mask instead, one of the new features in Perfect Photo Suite 9.5

To create a luminosity mask, go to the Mask menu and select Create Luminosity Mask. This will use the luminosity, or the black and white interpretation of the photo and paste it in as a layer mask. If you think about the way a layer mask works, white reveals and black conceals. So any part of your image that is dark will not get the lightening effect and any part of the image that is bright will get the darkening effect. Now in this case, that’s the opposite of what we want, so simply invert the mask using the Invert Mask command. Now the effect of the screen blending mode only gets applied to the dark areas of the photo, lightening just the shadows.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to luminosity masking. You can also copy and paste luminosity masks from photo to photo and from module to module, you can even use them in unique ways to blend textures into your photos. Of course you can blend your use of the masking tools, like the Masking Brush to edit a luminosity mask too. We hope that you find luminosity masking a powerful new tool in your arsenal.

on1 Labs — Faster Browse – Part II

Posted on March 18, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

Coming soon as a free update for Perfect Photo Suite 9

Getting to your photos fast is important. We want to be the fastest way to view and browse your images, bar none. With each release of the Perfect Photo Suite we continue to improve the speed or Browse. While we are not the fastest yet, we are working hard to get there.

Here is a preview of some of the changes we are working on, coming soon to the Perfect Photo Suite. We have focused on three key improvements to Browse to make it faster:

  • First we have reworked the grid view that shows the thumbnails. We have made it much faster and more smooth when you scroll. You could now have a folder with hundreds of thousands of images and smoothly scroll through all of them.
  • Second we have improved Detail View when you want to look at one image at a time. Our goal is to never show you a pixelated image. We have made good progress towards this by reading ahead so that large previews are ready to view. If you arrow through your files at a normal pace of about one to two per second you should not see pixelated versions of your images. We also continue to generate thumbnails in the background when you are in Detail View.
  • Last but not least we have added a persistent cache of the thumbnails and previews so that when you go back to folder you have viewed before it is lightning fast, as we have already generated the thumbnails and previews for you.

And we are not done. There are still several areas of improvement we continue to work on to eek out even more speed for the future. Let us know what you think.

on1 Labs — Albums

Posted on March 16, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

Coming soon as a free update for Perfect Photo Suite 9

Albums are a handy new feature we are working on for Perfect Browse. An album is a way to make a list, or collection, of photos. The cool thing about an Album is that the photos in them can live anywhere, like a local hard disk or the cloud. The other cool thing is that the images don’t get duplicated when you put them in an Album, think of it like a list of shortcuts.

You can create an Album to keep track of your favorite images, stock submissions, etc. When I’m working on a book project I create an Album to keep track of the images that I may put into the book.

Creating an Album is easy. Start by selecting a few images you want to create an Album from and simply drag and drop them onto the New Album drop area. This will create a new Album from the images. You can then drag and drop more onto the Album itself. If you create a copy when you edit an image, and it lives in an Album, the copy gets placed in the Album too.

If you are familiar with Collections in Lightroom this works in a similar way. One thing you may be asking for are Smart Albums (Albums that update their contents based on a search). While we haven’t put this into Albums yet, you can do the same thing using the Saved Filters option in the Filters pane.

We are excited to get Albums in your hands very soon. Let us know what you think.

on1 Labs — Perfect Portrait is Getting Faster

Posted on March 10, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

Coming soon as a free update for Perfect Photo Suite 9

We often hear from our customers “I love the results from Perfect Portrait, but it is so slow.” Well we have been listening and working hard to make Portrait faster and easier to use.

In the past it would take Portrait about ten seconds to start-up on a good computer. Now keep in mind, it has a lot to do. It finds every face in your image. Then for each face it finds the eyes and the mouths. That said one of our engineers has figured out how to cut that down to about three seconds!

“I love the results from Perfect Portrait, but it is so slow.”

The next step is to make adjusting the control points for the eyes and the mouth faster to move. In the past it would take a second or so each time you adjusted a control point before you could grab and adjust the next one. If you where too fast it would beep at you when you tried to do your work. Frustrating. We have made good progress on freeing up the control points. The delay between adjusting them is shorting and you rarely get beeped at unless you have a really large face on a slower computer. That said we will not rest until you never hear that beep again.

We still have many improvements we are working on for Perfect Portrait. Tell us what you like and what you would like to see different.

on1 Labs — Line Mask Tool

Posted on March 9, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

Coming soon as a free update for Perfect Photo Suite 9

In Perfect Photo Suite 9 we made some big changes to how masking is done in the Suite.  We added some new tools and moved and simplified others. We also removed a few tools that where not used as frequently. It was bold move that took some of our users by surprise. The majority of our users (69%) report that they can create better masks now than they could in the past.

However one thing that we missed was a way to make a straight-line mask. If you need to mask out a geometric shape like a man-made object or a window it can still be cumbersome to use a round brush.

This lead us to work on a tool for straight-line masking. We wanted to create something easier to use than the traditional pen tool. What we have come up with is the new Line Mask Tool. It allows you to create simple polygon masks to complex paths when needed. To use it you simple click along an edge to create point-to-point line segments. When you complete your shape you can choose to mask the inside or the outside of the shape, in either white or black. You can also control the hardness or feather of the edge.

Of course the Line Mask tool works in conjunction with all the other mask tools. You can use the Line Mask tool to start a mask or to refine an existing mask.

We hope you find the Line Mask tool as handy as we do. Let us know what you think.

Do You Use Layers?

Posted on February 12, 2015 by Dan Harlacher

Do you use Layers? Not the product or module Perfect Layers, but the concept of a layered workflow.

If you started your digital photo life with Photoshop, then you would probably say yes. The idea of stacking multiple copies of the same photo and using concepts like layer masks, blending modes and opacity just come as second nature. You probably also use layers as a sort-of-history mechanism so you can roll back changes or make versions within the same photos. Almost any photo you edit probably goes through a layered workflow.

If you started your digital photo life with either Lightroom or iPhoto, the concept of using layers is foreign and maybe even scary. Even if you learned to use layers via Photoshop or Perfect Layers, you use them sparingly. Only when you need to blend two different photos together to change a sky or swap a head, for example.

When we added Perfect Layers to the Perfect Photo Suite several years ago we taught our users, most of whom where Photoshop users, to use it as their “home base.” The place where they would open and save their photos and where they would access the other modules like Perfect Effects and Perfect Resize. This concept of a host and plug-ins was familiar to Photoshop users.

Flash forward a couple years and we have added Perfect Browse. For many users this is their starting point or “home base” instead of Perfect Layers. In Browse they select the photos to edit and then send them to the modules they want to work on. They only open a  photo in Perfect Layers if they need to blend multiple photos together.

We are most interested in understanding how you use the concept of a layered workflow and what tools you use to work on layers. Take a minute and answer this simple four question survey, it will help us understand how to serve you better in the future. Also, feel free to leave a comment below to keep the discussion rolling. We appreciate it.

If you don’t see the survey below, you can complete it here instead.