I originally created the Aviator in 2011 using Lightroom and Photoshop as my editing tools. When onOne announced the release of their New Perfect Photo Suite, I was inspired to recreate the Aviator using their new standalone program. I’ve been using onOne for years as a plugin for Photoshop and Lightroom, but this was the first time I created a project from scratch using their standalone program. I wanted to see if I could work start to finish in Perfect Photo Suite and get the results I wanted. I’ve included a free video at the end of the article.

My Approach

Since the concept of the Aviator was already established; use textures and color to create a composite of a young woman in front of a World War II plane I had to figure out how to use the Standalone version to create these effects. This was a new approach for me, so I budgeted a little time just to play with the software and get familiar with the workflow. After about 30 minutes, I was acclimated to the new software environment. I was able to make the image look aged with color and texture similar to how I created it in Photoshop.

Each tool has it’s purpose but still works together

Perfect Portrait: Enhancing eyes, lips and skin.

I first started with a photo of the model. Perfect Portrait auto selected her eyes, lips and skin. The software places pins outlining the eye with a color pin in the center aligned with her pupil. I was able to tweak the selection and apply my own settings. For the most part, Perfect Portrait did the bulk of the heavy lifting. The whites of her eyes were balanced with the sharpness of her iris. Perfect Portrait selected the lips in a similar way. If her teeth were showing, the software would have whiten them along with adding vibrancy to the color of her lips.

My favorite feature of Perfect Portrait is how it enhances skin. The skin doesn’t look fake or plastic thanks to the many options I can change. The software starts by making a preliminary mask of the skin which I can edit with a brush. Setting the mask view mode to show a red layer mask helps me make a better selection. I like to include a small part of the hair around the subjects face. This ensures a smooth transition.

Perfect Layer: Extract the subject and created the composite.

Perfect Layers makes it easy to composite two or more images. Like Photoshop, Perfect Layers use an editable layer mask. The quick mask brush makes it easy to select the majority of the background. The masking brush in combination with checking Perfect Brush option allowed me to make a more complicated mask, especially around the hair. Once I masked out the image, I created a “Stamped Layer”, the same as merging multiple layers together in Photoshop. I then made the new stamped layer a “Smart layer”; yes the same as a smart object in Photoshop, so I could have the option to change any effect after I created them.

Perfect Effects: Filters to create the Aviator look.

I spent the majority of my time in Perfect Effects. I use Perfect Effects as my main go to plugin to create special effects. Once I create an effect I like, I save it as a preset. Not only does this speed up my workflow on future projects, but it serves as a note on how I created a certain look. I’ve included the same Perfect Effect I used to create the Aviator at the end of the article. Blank Layer mask were automatically added to each filter. Simply use a masking brush inside Perfect Effects to paint in or out the effect. I used the Grid mode to see how each effect will be applied to the image. It was just a matter of looking and clicking on which one I liked best. A huge timesaver.

Perfect Enhance: Apply a few finishing touches.

Perfect Enhance is similar to Lightroom’s develop module. I was able to make photography enhancements quick and easy. I enhanced the shadows, tweak exposure, tone and color in the image along with increasing the sharpness.These effects were subtle but made a difference.

Perfect Resize: Enlarge the image to the final print dimensions.

I waited until the end of the project to scale the image to the final print size of 24 by 16 at 180 ppi. I could have started with the proper dimensions in the beginning but a larger file means more processing time with each of the filters. Since I was experimenting, I wanted to save precious time. and stay in a creative mode not wait for the filters to render. I’ve used Perfect Resize for years when scaling images for prints as large as 4 foot by 8 foot in size. I haven’t experience any low quality issues and have been happy with the printed output.

Watch My Workflow

FREE Plugin: The Aviator Preset

FREE onOne Trial: Perfect Photo Suite

Will I ditch Photoshop and Lightroom?

The real question is can Perfect Photo Suite be a replacement for Photoshop and Lightroom. The answer is yes (especially with its new Browse Module). Will I ditch Photoshop or Lightroom, No, those other tools are too deeply ingrained in my workflow.

I think it’s great onOne is giving consumers an alternative. Casual users or users intimidated with Photoshop will be happy. I don’t foresee Photoshop or Lightroom disappearing but then again, fellow author Lisa Robinson didn’t foresee her beloved Aperture disappearing either. She wrote about her switch to Lightroom in Breaking up with Aperture.

My personal thoughts and advice

I’ve been using onOne’s plugins since they were created in 2005. I’ve found the company very open to feedback from photographers. When a new plugin worked, they heard my praise. When a new plugin didn’t meet my expectations, they heard that too.

The only problem now is I’m hooked. onOne’s plugins have made me become lazy at Photoshop. I honestly can’t remember how to enhance a model’s skin or create a snappy duotone without using a plugin or Lightroom.

My buddy Brian once said, “onOne creates plugins so you can spend less time editing and more time shooting“. Either way, I’m happy with the results. So here is my advice. If you are fluent with Photoshop and Lightroom, use onOne as a plugin. If you are new to Photography and haven’t gotten the hang of Lightroom, download a free trial of onOne’s standalone Perfect Photo Suite. Either way, you’ll find great tools to help you create stunning images.