Review of Totally Rad’s Rad Lab!

Our lovely CMadmin Monica Wilkinson recently got to test drive Totally Rad’s amazing new product Rad Lab – lucky girl!  She wrote a fantastic review to share her thoughts on this Photoshop filter that’s going to change the way you edit.  Make sure you read to the very end for a special treat!

Review of Totally Rad’s Rad Lab

I knew Rad Lab was likely to be a great product. Why wouldn’t it be? I have had Totally Rad’s action sets for years and they are some of my favorites.  I also love Dirty Pictures for applying textures.  But, there is always a BUT… did I really NEED Rad Lab? I already had all their actions. Why couldn’t I just manually apply them like I have been for years? Why not just save my money and skip Rad Lab?  Well, because that would be nuts!!  It has such an intuitive interface that you will fall in love with it the minute it is opened. I did.

Some of you may think Rad Lab is another Photoshop action.  Nope, not at all. It’s a Photoshop filter. This means you can edit your pictures in a non destructive manner.  As you are using Photoshop smart filters and smart objects  you can make changes to your pictures even after running Rad Lab and returning to Photoshop. Need to mask off some areas?  No problem.  Once you are back in Photoshop you can adjust your images.

Is it easy to use?

At first I was a little concerned.  I had never even used smart objects or smart filters previously. Was I going to be able to navigate this?  The answer is YES!! It is easy peasy!!

The interface is ingenious!! You open it up and it is similar to how you see your images in Lightroom if you’re familiar with Lightroom. In Lightroom, when you roll over your presets you see a preview of how your image is going to look.  RadLab is very similar to this but even BETTER!! In fact it is kind of like Lightroom and Photoshop merged together as one.  And, this is the part you are going to love, it is going to save you TIME. Lots of time. No more going into Photoshop only to play an action then change your mind, delete it and move through your other actions. This takes time and we all know photographers are BUSY!! That is why I do not use half of the actions I own. I do not have time to play each action to see the effect.  With Rad Lab, I can see the effects immediately. I can layer my effects and adjust them all in a second. I do not have to go through my action list one by one looking for that perfect effect!

Let me show you how it works.

You start with your SOOC image.

Review of Totally Rads Rad Lab! photo

Then you open up Rad Lab. Remember, this is a plug in, not an action so you will not find Rad Lab in your action palette. You will find it in your toolbar under FILTER>Rad Lab.

Review of Totally Rads Rad Lab! photo

This will open up the interface. On the left will be your image and on the right will be your stylets. You can hover over them and it will show you what your image will look like. It basically gives you a super fast preview of your image with the effect applied without ever having to actually apply the action. Plus, you can layer, layer, layer until you achieve your desired look.

Review of Totally Rads Rad Lab! photo

If you click the stylet it will add the effect to the right. This is where you can do your adjustments. I choose  “Oh Snap” and decided to decrease the strength to 75%. Next, I hovered over the other stylets and “Claire-ify” looked good. I added that and decreased it to 55%. I could have been finished but I was playing around. See? It’s that easy. You can just glide your mouse over the stylets and see the new effects on your image. Once I hovered over “Vanilla Kiss” I knew I had to add that too. It gave it a nice warmth. So I added it and lowered the strength to 55%. So now I can see my changes with a click of the mouse. Do I want to see it without “Oh Snap”? Easy, I just uncheck it. I can make other changes here too such as increasing the strength over all, or increasing/decreasing specific layers in the effects….all in this awesome interface!!! Another great thing is that you can have your histogram showing to make sure you are not blowing your highlights or clipping your blacks while working. When you are satisfied with your choices you hit finish and it will bring you back to Photoshop to continue your work.

Review of Totally Rads Rad Lab! photo
If you have chosen to open Rad Lab by the filter method above it will remember your last used recipe and will apply that when you open a new image. You can delete that by hitting reset down in the far right hand corner.

If you have CS4 or CS5, you can open RAD LAB by using the panel. It will already be installed so to make it show up you will have to choose Window>Extensions>Rad Lab. This will open it as a palette and you can dock it just like your other Photoshop palettes.

Review of Totally Rads Rad Lab! photo


Review of Totally Rads Rad Lab! photo
I preferred using it in this manner. It was already docked on my screen and I could open it with one click and it started out with a blank recipe. I could apply my desired recipe, hit finish and it would bring me back to Photoshop where I could adjust my layers as needed using masks, etc.

Review of Totally Rads Rad Lab! photo

My SOOC image again:

Review of Totally Rads Rad Lab! photo

My final image using RadLab:

Review of Totally Rads Rad Lab! photo
So that is it! Pretty Rad, huh?!

The pros? I love the interface. So easy to use and FAST! I mean REALLY waiting for an action to load. Just open it up and you can edit an image in seconds. I love how I can try out loads of new recipes with a click of a mouse. Just roll over the images and you can see the effect and I can save those recipes easily for future use.  Another cool feature is that each time I add a new effect it also shows the effect on all the other stylets. I can also record an action using Rad Lab which is perfect if I need to do some batch editing. I think Rad Lab is a very effective tool and will definitely be saving me some editing time!!

And for all of you Abode Photoshop Elements users?  Wait for it………..RadLab is totally compatible with Photoshop Elements 7 and above!  Squeal!

The cons? There has to be something not so rad, right? I tried to come up with some and truthfully, it was hard. I do wish it had an option to apply texture -that would be cool.  I wish it was possible to incorporate actions into the interface – other vendors or even just TRA’s.   It would be amazing if if worked with Lightroom. I do my basic edits there so to pop over to Rad Lab from there would be nice. (I did have a little birdy tell me that this may be in the works..or even a stand alone program…so we will have to keep our fingers crossed!)

That’s it!! I love this product and I think you will too!!!! I HIGHLY recommend it!!


Thanks so much for such a fantastic, in-depth review Monica!  RadLab looks awesome!

You can learn all about the awesomeness that is RadLab on Totally Rad’s website.

AND…. being that they are, in fact, totally rad, Totally Rad is giving away RadLab to one lucky ClickinMoms blog reader!!

Leave a comment and you’ll automatically be entered to win.  Winner will be chosen randomly and announced both here on this post as an update and on our ClickinMoms Facebook Page on September 6, 2011 so make sure to get your comments in by midnight PST on September 5th.  Good luck!  Thanks to Totally Rad for a rad giveaway!



Thanks so much for all of your entries!!

Winner of RadLab is Krista Lund!  Congratulations, Krista!  You can contact me at Kathryn {at} clickinmoms {dot} com to claim your prize!



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195 Responses to “Review of Totally Rad’s Rad Lab!”

  1. Katie
    Aug 31 2011 at 6:16 am #

    I've been super tempted to buy this, but I just can't afford it right now. I hope I win!

  2. Kodi
    Aug 31 2011 at 9:25 am #

    I was getting ready to purchase my first set of actions and came across a review on Rad Lab. I've totally changed my mind now! So, to win this would be amazing!

  3. Natasha
    Aug 31 2011 at 10:27 am #

    So cool and so easy! I would love to try this out.

  4. Sarah
    Aug 31 2011 at 10:55 am #

    I would love to try out RadLab!

  5. holly
    Aug 31 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Thanks for the great review -this sounds awesome! Please enter me in the drawing. :)

  6. Aug 31 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    I didn't know it worked with elements! How exciting, I'd love to win!

  7. Marissa
    Aug 31 2011 at 12:45 pm #

    Looks awesome! Would love to try it!

  8. Lisa
    Aug 31 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Oh my!!! This is about the coolest thing EVER! Monica thanks for the fab review ♥

  9. Aug 31 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Thanks for the chance!

  10. Sarah Cox
    Aug 31 2011 at 5:01 pm #

    It DOES look totally rad!!! I would love to try it out!

  11. Dori
    Aug 31 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    This looks so amazing. I'm new to this but i'd love a shot at these.

  12. Aug 31 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    I am so excited about this giveaway, I have been reading reviews of RadLab all day but just can't afford it right now. Fingers crossed!

  13. Rebecca
    Sep 01 2011 at 1:34 am #

    Wow! This looks awesome!

  14. Sep 01 2011 at 5:22 am #

    Would LOVE this!! Thanks for the awesome review.

  15. Sep 01 2011 at 5:34 am #

    Wow! Great review! I have been waiting and saving to get this and so would love to win! Thanks for the opputunity

  16. ingrid
    Sep 01 2011 at 5:53 am #

    Sweeeeet! Looks cool.


  17. Vickie Whaley
    Sep 01 2011 at 6:19 am #

    I have just started checking into this and it looks amazing! Thanks so much for giving one of these away, whoever wins will be super excited!

  18. Heather
    Sep 01 2011 at 6:22 am #

    Oh boy would I love to win this!

  19. Meredith
    Sep 01 2011 at 7:23 am #

    This would be so fun to try! so happy that it works with Elements :-) looks amazing.

  20. Shannon
    Sep 01 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    This is definitely on my wish list!!

  21. Laura
    Sep 01 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    Wow! I am so excited about RadLab! It looks amazing! And easy to use.

  22. Angie Z
    Sep 01 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    I NEEEEED this. I would love to be able to process this way. I love you Totally Rad, and even if I'm not picked this willl be one of my next purchases.

  23. Rebecca
    Sep 01 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    Oh I've been eyeing this since it came out!! Love it!! Thank you for the opportunity!

  24. Sep 01 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    I would love to win!

  25. Isabelle
    Sep 03 2011 at 6:14 am #

    You wrote such a great review that now I feel like I am totally missing out on something very cool!

  26. Tara
    Sep 03 2011 at 12:52 pm #

    Would love to win-it looks amazing and easy!

  27. Mindy
    Sep 03 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    I love this review and would love to win Rad Lab! Thanks for the opportunity!

  28. Kim
    Sep 03 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    This looks amazing! Thank you for entering me to the drawing!

  29. Cynthia
    Sep 03 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    Really excited! This is so nice, like lightroom and photoshop in 1 package.

  30. Nicole
    Sep 04 2011 at 1:46 am #

    This looks awesome! I can't wait to try it.

  31. Sep 04 2011 at 5:14 am #

    Cant wait!!!!! Great article!

  32. Carolyn
    Sep 04 2011 at 7:39 am #

    This looks like such a great product. I can't wait to try it out.

  33. shelly
    Sep 04 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    This is the second place I've seen this reviewed. Both were great reviews…I want to win so I can try it!!

  34. Cary
    Sep 04 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    Yeah! Would love to try it :-)

  35. Tracy
    Sep 04 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    LOVE it!!! It would be so rad to win this!! ;)

  36. Krista Lund
    Sep 05 2011 at 7:05 am #

    i wasn't sold on redlab before reading this, but now!

  37. molly
    Sep 05 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    Looks great! Would love to have it!

  38. Sep 05 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    I'd love to have the RadLab!

  39. Michele Gonzales
    Sep 06 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    I have been stalking Totally Rad for years! But I have elements and they weren't available before. So very excited that this is available.

  40. Sep 06 2011 at 3:48 pm #


  41. Sep 06 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    I would love to win this. I am hoping they have a trial up and running soon to try it myself!

  42. Sep 08 2011 at 10:12 am #

    After reading this post I just had to buy this. I saw this post too late to enter the giveaway. I will tell you that I LOVE this filter! My workflow on my last editing session went so smoothly and took me about half the time.

  43. Maria
    Sep 21 2011 at 10:39 am #

    Great review! I hope to try a trial version of RadLab before buying it. I'm still dilly-dallying between buying the 2 sets of actions (because they offer more options in terms of stylets than RadLab currently offers) or RadLab but your review really makes RadLab seem much more user friendly.

  44. Dianna Simoson
    Sep 27 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    Very nice post. I absolutely appreciate this website. Continue the good work!

  45. Oct 31 2012 at 11:17 am #

    omg! i am using the trial right now and am amazed! so easy and fast. my last session was edited in half the time! the only thing i am noticing is that the images when in rad lab are so clear and crisp but when i bring them back into ps, they lose the clarity. anyone else have this issue or know how to keep the clarity. if i can figure that out, i will definitely be buying!

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