Working with Layers is a powerful way to improve your images in Photoshop. Lightroom does not have any direct layer feature. Here the Perfect Layers plugin from OnOne bridges the gap if your want the power of layers while working with Lightroom and not having access to Photoshop.
We show some basics with a real world example.
Because we don't think that most of the colors in this image mean too much for us we found the B&W version more interesting. Also the B&W version was created in Lightroom 4.1.
But there is one aspect of Capitol that calls for color. There is a group of small beach houses called "Venetian Court" that are painted in the color scheme of the Venetian island Burano. So what if we keep the image B&W but show the colored houses? We don't know any good way to do this directly in Lightroom. With Perfect Layers (and of course Photoshop) this is an easy task.
We select the color and B&W version in Lightroom and open them into Perfect Layers.
Here is the user interface of Perfect Layers:
Perfect Layers shows the two images as layers (good that they have the same size):
Now we use a soft brush in Perfect Layers to let the colored houses show through:
Brushing adds a mask to the top B&W layer and adds black to the brushed area.
Now save the result from Perfect Layers. It will be saved as a Photoshop .PSD file stacked with the original image in Lightroom. The good thing about saving the result as a PSD file is that you can open the PSD file from Photoshop with all layers and Masks intact. But you can also re-open the PSD file from Perfect Layers and also have all your previous layers.
We are just scratching the surface of Perfect Layers here. Best you check out the Perfect Layers tutorials.
Note: As of this writing (August 2012) Perfect Layers was a free product.
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