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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

My SOOC image again:

My final image using RadLab:

So that is it! Pretty Rad, huh?!

The pros? I love the interface. So easy to use and FAST! I mean REALLY fast..no 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!