Photoshop v 22.4.0: How it affects the TK panel

Adobe recently released a new version of Photoshop (version 22.4.0).  If you’ve not already installed it, it’s available in your Creative Cloud Desktop app.  Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly) the new version also brings some new bugs.  The TK7 panel and the TK8-beta plugin are affected to a degree.  I’ve fixed everything that I know about, so the TK modules work OK with the new version of Photoshop. 

Missing Docking Icons

NOTE: This problem was fixed with the release of Photoshop 22.4.2 on 8 June 2021.

This is only a problem on Windows 10 computers, not on Mac.  The docking icons for all CEP panels (like TK7) and all UXP panels (like TK8-beta and TK Luminosity Mask) are gone.  They’re completely blank as shown in the image below.  Some of Adobe’s own panels are also affected; Adobe Color Themes and the Adobe Plugins panel have also lost their icons.  Clicking the panel’s button in the panel dock still opens the corresponding panel, but there’s no way to know which button is associated with which panel.  This is especially problematic if you have a large number of third-party extensions on your panel dock.  It’s nearly impossible to keep track of more than just few panels when these icons are blank.

I’m pretty sure Adobe is aware of the situation, though it has not been acknowledged yet in any of the forums I follow.  If these docking icons are important to you, the only solution is to use the Creative Cloud Desktop app to uninstall Photoshop v22.4.0 and then backtrack to the previous version of Photoshop.  NOTE: I just installed Photoshop v22.4.1 released 19 May 2021 and it did NOT fix this issue with docking icons.

Fortunately, the TK modules are designed with a small footprint and are meant to stay open in the Photoshop workspace, and so these missing icons might not be an issue for most users.  Sean Bagshaw has an excellent video that demonstrates how to dock the TK modules so they can always be available and not intrude into the image area of Photoshop.  I’ve linked to it below.  In the arrangements he suggests, no docking icons are needed in order to access the panel’s features since the user interface or panel tab is continuously accessible.

TK8-beta update             

While I wasn’t planning to do additional versions of TK8-beta, Photoshop v22.4.0 has made a newer version necessary.  The UXP architecture at the heart of TK8-beta is still being built out, and there were several things that stopped working in the latest Photoshop release.  I’ve fixed everything in TK8-beta that has been brought to my attention and have uploaded the patches to the download folder.  If you’re using TK8-beta, please use your download link to grab the updated version.  You can use the download link specifically for the TK8-beta plugin or also the one for the “TK7 panel (updated).” Both have the TK8-beta plugin included in the download folder. You can usually find your download link simply by searching your email for “e-junkie.com” as that’s the download server’s domain.  The download folder now contains the most recent version of everything.  For TK8-beta, double-clicking the .ccx files in the download folder initiates the installation process that overwrites your current modules with the new ones. Be sure to keep track of your download link. Additional fixes to TK8-beta may be necessary, and I’ll continue to update the download folder with the latest patches. If you have trouble locating your download link, please contact me.

TK Luminosity Mask plugin update

I decided to do an update on the free TK Luminosity Mask plugin available on the Adobe Marketplace (accessed via the Creative Cloud Desktop app) even though it was not affected by the new version of Photoshop.  If you have this panel installed, check the Creative Cloud Desktop app and look for the “Update” button.  Clicking it installs the new version (see image below).  NOTE:  If you don’t see the “Update” button, that probably means the update has already been installed.

Everything works the same in this new version of the plugin. I’ve just added a patch to restore the focus to Photoshop after clicking buttons on this plugin.  As such, keyboard shortcuts should work immediately after clicking buttons on the panel.  This patch is somewhat experimental.  I’ve not included it in TK8-beta yet.  I wanted to test it on the free TK Luminosity Mask panel first.

Finally, I want to say thank you to everyone who has tried the TK Luminosity Mask and TK8-beta plugins and for the feedback they’ve provided.  There’s no question that crowd-sourcing works when it comes to spotting problems and improving functionality.  It’s been very helpful to receive bug reports and feature requests.  The final version of TK8 will definitely be better because of the comments I’ve received on these early versions.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.

More TK7 Go panel videos from Dave Kelly

Dave Kelly continues to make videos that explore different sections of the TK7 Go panel. Rather than trying to cover everything the panel does, Dave focuses on one or two methods for making and using masks, and then demonstrates different options within the panel for fine-tuning and using that mask.

The key to deciding which mask to use is usually dictated by the what you’re trying to select. If the brightness or the darkness of a particular element is its defining characteristic, then a luminosity mask or zone mask will be an effective starting point. Luminosity masks are probably best if you’re looking to target light tones or dark tones INCLUDING the whitest whites and the blackest blacks. Zone masks, however, are better at targeting the light gray, dark gray, and midtone gray tones that EXCLUDE pure white and pure black. If the defining characteristic of the element to be selected is color, then infinity color masks are a good starting point since they allow very targeted masks based on color.

Keep in mind that the first mask choice is not necessarily going to be the perfect mask. Modifying the mask is usually helpful for improving it. The TK7 Go panel has options for fine-tuning the initial mask choice, and the MODIFY section provides additional controls. These options often make significant improvements to the initial mask. The desired elements can be better selected (made whiter in the mask preview) and parts of the image that should not be selected can be made darker or even black. Properly modifying the mask is an important second step in order to better sculpt the mask to fit your particular image.

In the first video below, Dave focuses on using zone masks to make adjustments to different tonal ranges in the image. At the beginning, he takes a close look at how the Go module’s mask controls work using a step-tablet image of the different zones. Seeing what the different zone mask sliders do on this control image makes it easier to understand what they’re doing in the more complex setting like an actual photograph. (You can download Dave’s step-tablet image here.) Dave includes three different examples of using zone masks to adjust brightness in specific parts of the image. Zone masks are one of my favorite techniques since they are so precise at selecting the initial tone and then can be easily adjusted to be even more specific.

In the second video below, Dave uses both luminosity and zone masks to make gentle adjustments to the image. This video emphasizes the experimental nature of creating these masks. Sometimes a luminosity mask works better and sometimes a zone mask works better. It may not be entirely obvious which will work best until you try both and see. In addition to experimenting with different types of masks, Dave also uses different mask controls, like the different color channels for luminosity masks and the sliders for zone masks, to fine-tune the initial selection. Then, to take it a step further, he uses the MODIFY section of the Go module to add contrast to the mask and to paint out some areas with black paint to make an even better selection of his chosen subject. These types of adjustments quickly become second nature since you actually see the mask on-screen and can make modifications based on how the mask looks.

In the final video below, Dave looks at making adjustments using infinity color masks. Color masks add an entirely new dimension to the masking process. Unlike luminosity masks (which are based on pixel brightness), hue and saturation are the two pixel values that determine what gets selected with infinity color masks. Things that would be impossible to select based on brightness are sometimes very easy to select based on color. As with luminosity and zone masks, color masks also offer specific mask controls for choosing the hue range, mask brightness, and color feathering. And, of course, the MODIFY section can again be used to make even more precise masks. The one caveat when choosing to use infinity color masks is to make sure the colors are colorful. Unsaturated colors can still be selected, but the masks will be quite dark, even in the selected pixels. Saturated colors definitely produce brighter masks.

The big takeaway in Dave’s latest videos is that there is no preset way to use luminosity, zone, and color masks. The characteristics of the image will determine the best place to start, but the panel’s ability to quickly adjust and modify the initial mask also plays an important role in generating the best mask for a desired adjustment. Some experimentation may be necessary, but with a little practice, it’s easy to generate a targeted, perfectly-feather mask with just a few mouse clicks. I think you’ll enjoy Dave’s latest videos. Be sure give them a thumbs-up and consider subscribing to his YouTube channel to get the latest updates.

TK8-beta: Video plus more information

Adobe’s new UXP plugin architecture continues to evolve rapidly. Less than a year ago, Adobe indicated that the current CEP architecture for extension panels, like the TK7 panel, would be supported for years to come. Now, in this post on an Adobe forum, there are hints that CEP panels may be deprecated as soon as Photoshop 2022, which is likely to be released in October this year. CEP panels are essentially already deprecated on Mac M1 computers (unless running Photoshop in emulation mode), and I think this decision NOT to support CEP on Mac M1 computers is possibly a signal that Adobe is hoping to move entirely to UXP plugins sooner than originally anticipated.

TK8-beta was released on 1 April 2021. It is built on Adobe’s UXP architecture and includes almost all the features of the TK7 panel. As such, TK8-beta works fine on Mac M1 computers and should be compatible with future versions of Photoshop even if Adobe stops supporting CEP panels. TK8-beta is a free upgrade for customers who have downloaded TK7 version 2, which was released 1 July 2020. To get TK8-beta, either look for the download link I emailed from the download server on 1 April 2021 or use your original download link. Both download links would have come from “client@e-junkie.com” and searching your email for that address might be the easiest way to find a download link for TK8-beta.

Given the uncertainty surrounding this transition from CEP to UXP for Photoshop extensions, I’d suggest that all TK7 version 2 users download TK8-beta to make sure you have a working TK panel going forward. As of April 1, TK7 purchases automatically receive TK8-beta in the download folder, but those who purchased before 1 April 2021 will have to download using one of the methods listed above to insure they have a copy. If you can’t find the recent or original download link, please contact me and we’ll get it worked out.

I’ve received a fair amount of feedback on TK8-beta already, and can happily report that it installs and works as expected. There are a few typos in the tooltips (no surprise), and I’ll get those corrected. There’s also the issue of the plugin stealing focus from Photoshop and not handing it back as discussed in this post. This results in keyboard shortcuts not always working properly after clicking on a UXP panel. I’ve found that the best solution is to simply click on a blank area of the Options bar for current Photoshop tool. This restores focus to Photoshop 100% of the time and re-enables all keyboard shortcuts. This focus issue is something Adobe is aware of and working to correct.

Overall, TK8-beta is a fully functional UXP plugin that is living up to expectations. The final TK8 plugin will look and run almost exactly like the beta version but with several new features added. So, if you’d like to get a head start on transitioning to a UXP-style plugin, TK8-beta is available now. It works in Photoshop 2021 and makes luminosity masks and other masks just like TK7. Both TK7 and TK8-beta are available on the Panels & Videos page. The video above goes over the new features in TK8-beta compared to TK7. Please give TK8-beta a try and let me know if you if you have any thoughts or questions.

Free Update: TK8-beta

With the release of Photoshop 22.3.0 in March 2021, users of Mac computers with the M1 chip now have an ARM-based version of Photoshop that runs natively on the new chip. Adobe claims increased speed for this version of Photoshop, and from watching it perform via internet screen-sharing, it does appear to be noticeably faster.

This new ARM-based version of Photoshop only supports Photoshop extensions (now called “plugins” by Adobe) that use Adobe’s UXP plugin architecture. The older CEP architecture is still supported if Photoshop is run in Intel emulation mode, i.e. Rosetta, but this sacrifices the optimization and speed Adobe has developed for the M1 chip.

The current TK7 panel was developed using the older CEP architecture since that was all that was available at the time. However, I started UXP coding in July 2020, and the TK Lum-Mask plugin released last October used it. Based on what I learned developing that plugin, I planned to convert TK7 to the UXP format also. However, once I started this process, I knew that simply recreating TK7 using the new UXP architecture wasn’t going to cut it. UXP lets me do new things, so why not push further? And so, the idea for TK8 quickly came into focus. The general layout of TK7 would be maintained in TK8 to make the transition as easy as possible, but there would be new functions, new actions, new masks, bigger buttons, better options, and faster response. TK7 would be a conceptual foundation, but TK8 would be a next-generation plugin, better than anything that came before.

Months into the process, TK8 is on target to live up to expectations. I’m really excited by it and hope to have it available later this year. However, ARM-based Photoshop is here now, and Mac M1 users need a plugin that utilizes the new UXP architecture now. So, TK8-beta is being released now to accommodate them. It has almost all the functions of the current TK7 panel plus a few of the new features planned for TK8. And, while the Mac M1 is the main reason for releasing TK8-beta at this time, the new plugin also works on all computers running Photoshop 2021. Intel-based Mac and Windows computers can install TK8-beta the same as M1 Macs. So even if you don’t have a Mac M1 computer, you can still try out TK8 to see where things are headed. Both TK7 and TK8-beta can be installed simultaneously, so you can choose which you’d like to use.

New features available in TK8-beta compared to TK7 include:

  • Optional “always on” tooltips
  • Cleaner user interface with bigger buttons
  • Expanded web-sharpening options
  • Improved Layer Mask mode to allow rapidly trying different luminosity masks as layer masks
  • New method for adding user actions
  • Ability to add unlimited user actions to the Combo and Cx modules
  • More obvious selection indicators
  • New mask modification options

However, this is a beta version of TK8. It’s is still being developed and Adobe is also still developing the UXP architecture as well. So, while I see the potential of TK8, I’m also aware of some limitations.

  • No written instruction manual or video documentation. There are extensive tooltips coded into all buttons and sliders and much of the TK7 literature applies equally well to TK8-beta, but there is no definitive resource that covers the different elements and how they work.
  • English-only. Multiple languages are once again planned from the product version of TK8, but translation happens near the end of the development process and will be added later.
  • All UXP plugins have a “focus” issue as discussed on this thread. They steal focus from Photoshop so that keyboard shortcuts don’t always work after clicking on a UXP plugin. This is an issue Adobe is aware of and plans to fix, but it can be annoying. NOTE: Clicking on the Options bar restores focus to Photoshop.
  • Can’t rule out bugs. While I’ve been testing TK8 extensively, it’s all new code, which means there’s the possibility I’ve missed something. However, releasing an early beta version means that anyone using the plugin can contribute to making it better. Simply contact me if you find something that doesn’t work or could be improved.

TK8-beta is free for all customers who have previously downloaded TK7 version 2. The download server has already sent an email with the necessary files. Check your email (including the junk/spam folder) if you already have TK7 version 2 that was released in July 2020. Additionally, TK8-beta is now included in the download folder for TK7. So you can also use your original “TK7 (updated)” download link to get a new download folder that contains the installer for TK8-beta.

TK8-beta will give you an idea of what to expect when the product version is available later in 2021. It’s continuing to evolve and already has several new features beyond what’s included in this beta version. I hope you’ll give it a try and provide feedback on any problems encountered or additional features that would be useful.