Now Available: TK8 version 1.2.2

NOTE:  During the launch of the updated version of TK8 there is a 20% discount available on everything on the Panels & Videos page, including the TK8 plugin and Sean Bagshaw’s videos.  Add the code JulySale in the shopping cart to get the discount.  This sale ends on July 31.

The TK8 plugin has been updated to version 1.2.2.  This is a major update that incorporates new code for Adobe’s UXP architecture for plugins.  Previous TK8 customers have been sent an email via MailChimp telling them how to update for free.  Please check your email (possibly the junk/spam folder).  The latest update information was sent on either July 16 or July 18.  Contact me if you are a licensed TK8 customer but did not receive the update information. New customers can use the discount code listed above to get 20% off for a limited time.

You can check your version of TK8 by clicking on the “TK” button on the Multi-Mask module to open the preferences interface and then looking in the lower right corner. If you do not have version 1.2.2, please get it now.

Importantly, TK8 version 1.2.2 only works in Photoshop 2022, version 23.2.0 or later.  The new version of TK8 will NOT work in Photoshop 2021 or older versions of Photoshop 2022.  So, the best practice is to make sure Photoshop is updated using the Adobe Creative Cloud app before installing TK8 version 1.2.2.

There are several new features in TK8 version 1.2.2, but the biggest is the introduction of the “My Actions” module.  It’s an improved alternative to the “User Actions” section of the Combo and Cx modules. Most of us have lots of Photoshop actions scattered around our Photoshop Actions panel.  The My Actions module helps users dynamically organize the actions they actually use into a single list.  This, in turn, provides easy, one-click access to these frequently-used actions.  The video below shows how the new module works.

This video provides a quick look at how to use the TK8 My Actions plugin.

In addition to their personal actions, the My Actions module provides a place where users can list actions that contain menu items, keyboard shortcuts, and even Photoshop scripts.  As long as these are first recorded into actions, they can be added to the My Actions module.  Sean Bagshaw shows how to do this in the video below.  This ability to completely customize the My Actions module means users can now essentially create their own Photoshop plugin.  Simply record whatever Photoshop features you use most into Photoshop actions, and then add these actions to the My Actions module.  From there they can be rearranged and color-coded in whatever way works best for your workflow.

Sean Bagshaw demonstrates how to customize your My Actions module with actions, Photoshop menu items, and keyboard shortcuts.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Button clicks in the TK8 plugin, like when making luminosity masks or other masks, cannot be recorded into Photoshop actions at this time. They can only be called directly using the buttons on the TK8 plugin.

Additional changes in TK8 version 1.2.2 include:

  • Most button clicks create a single history state.  This makes it possible use CTRL (Windows) / command (Mac) + Z to undo most TK8 button clicks.  Note, however, that using CTRL/command + Z does NOT reset the TK8 user interface to what it was at the previous history state.  So, only Photoshop is reset to the previous history state, not the TK8 plugin.
  • Occasionally, a green progress bar will display if the run time for a TK8-called process exceeds two seconds. This is part of Adobe’s new UXP code. Sometimes the progress bar will flash only briefly when a process completes.
  • A green outline now appears around the Lights, Darks, and Midtones buttons when they are clicked in the Layer Mask mode interface and the Edit Selection interface. This makes it easier to track which button was clicked and which mask was created.
  • For the Burn, Dodge, and Paint Color output options in the Multi-Mask module, CTRL (Windows) / command (Mac) + click on the respective output button creates a layer mask of the on-screen mask on the newly created layer instead of creating a selection of this on-screen mask to paint through. The layer mask then controls where the subsequently-applied paint shows through in the image.
  • The “png” save option in Web-Sharpening output has been updated to embed the color profile in the saved document. Other output file types already do this.
  • The ability to choose a color using the Color Picker is now available when running the Color Clone action found in the Combo and Cx modules.
  • Several other bugs were fixed and changes were made to make user interaction more efficient.

Known issues that remain unresolved at this time:

  • Adding the menu item “Edit > Fade” to an action and then adding that action to the My Actions module doesn’t work.  There will be an error alert indicating that the Fade command is not available.
  • Nik filters played as actions do not work when the actions are called from the My Actions module. However, invoking Topaz filters from the My Actions module DOES work.
  • Actions that contain Adobe ExtendScript code cannot be run directly from the module. To play an action that contains ExtrendScript code it is necessary to first create a separate action on Photoshop’s action’s panel that plays the action with the ExtendScript code and then add this new action to the module’s actions list.

There is a lot of new code in TK8 version 1.2.2, and, as such, there may be additional problems that surface and additional updates might be needed to fix them. If you contact me when you see a problem, I can take a look and see if there is a workaround that can be implemented and will post new versions of TK8 if needed. Hold onto the email containing your download link as it will always allow you to get the latest version of the TK8 plugin.

Updates: Paint Contrast video and TK8-beta with Photoshop 22.5

Paint Contrast

Dave Kelly posted a good video last week demonstrating how to use the “Paint Contrast” action in the TK7 Combo and Cx modules. I’ve linked to it below.

My friend B. pioneered contrast painting. Dave’s video bumps it up a notch. I’ll explain. The Paint Contrast action allows adding contrast to an image simply by painting on a specially constructed pixel layer on the Layers panel. To make it easy, there are just three “colors” to paint with:

  • 50% Gray–Which darkens shadow values and lightens highlight values, i.e. increases contrast in both shadows and highlights.
  • Black–Which primarily darkens shadow values (increased contrast in the shadows) and affects highlight values less.
  • White–Which mostly lightens highlight values (increased contrast in the highlights) and affects shadow values less.

The neat thing about this technique is that you don’t need a luminosity selection to paint through in order to target specific tones. Painting with black paint is almost like painting through a Darks-1 or Darks-2 selection and painting with white is like painting through a Lights-1 or Lights-2 selection. Black paint automatically selects dark tones to darken and white paint automatically selects light tones to lighten. And, just like with luminosity masks, the painting blends seamless, especially when painting with a feathered brush. So, while painting with black affects shadow values most, it also feathers the effect perfectly to blend the change into the image’s midtones and highlights. Likewise, painting with white affects highlights most, but also tapers perfectly into midtones and shadows. And, of course, painting with 50% gray feathers the effect into both the shadows and the highlights.

Dave demonstrates painting with all three colors, but the new thing I learned from the video is to use a different layer for each color. I had been using this technique on a single layer, mostly painting with 50% gray and occasionally lighter or darker shades of gray. However, by doing a separate “black paint” layer and “white paint” layer, as shown in the video, you can affect shadows and highlights independently and better tailor the effect to the image. This offers more control in both tonal ranges even when working on the same area of the image that has both shadow and highlight values. This control also extends to subsequently fine-tuning the adjustments, like changing the layer’s Fill opacity. The painting contrast technique is super easy and often yields pleasing results. I hope you’ll give it a try.

TK8-beta with Photoshop 22.5.0

Adobe released Photoshop 22.5.0 almost two weeks ago, and I’m happy that TK8-beta still works with it. It’s always a bit nerve-wracking whenever there is a new Photoshop drop. Something is always broken that wasn’t broken previously, and it’s almost impossible to predict if the TK panels will be affected. This isn’t entirely unexpected. The new UXP architecture on which TK8-beta is built is still evolving with new features being added and talk of some elements eventually being deprecated. I really like what UXP can do, so overall I think it will be positive direction long-term. I’m committed to trying to keep up with Adobe and fixing things as soon as possible if they do break. If you do have problems with TK8-beta, be sure to contact me so I can investigate and get things working. Also, it’s a good idea to save your download link. It can always be used to download the latest version from the download server so that when bugs do get fixed, you can get updates installed soon after I post information on this blog.

There are two things worth noting after the recent update to Photoshop 22.5.0. The first is that some of the formatting for the TK8-beta user interface shifted a little. The spacing around some elements in the sub-menus might look a bit off. This doesn’t affect the functioning of the plugin, but if it bothers you, use your download link to get the newer version, which has been added to the download server, or contact me if you need your link reactivated. These formatting issues will also be corrected in the final version of TK8 to be released later this year.

Another problem related to Photoshop 22.5.0 only happens on Windows computers and concerns input boxes, those boxes where the user can type in a value, like the Opacity value on the Layers panel. If you click in an input box to create a cursor there and then click the “Backspace” key, it doesn’t delete characters in the input box like you’d expect. Instead, it deletes layer masks or even layers on the Layers panel. Definitely not a good thing. You could accidentally delete a layer mask or even a layer without realizing it. This is new to Photoshop 22.5.0 and can affect the TK8-beta modules as well. (Interestingly, TK7 modules appear to NOT be affected.) For example, if you click in an input box on one of the TK8-beta modules, like to change the Height or Width for web-sharpening, and then tap the backspace key, the active layer(s) get deleted. Adobe has acknowledged the problem in this post, and it’s bad enough that they’ll probably try to get it corrected in the next dot update. Again, this is only a Windows issue. The “delete” key or “fn + delete” on Mac doesn’t have this problem. The short-term workaround is to use the cursor to highlight the letters and numbers that need to be changed and then immediately type their replacements without clicking the backspace key. This works, but if you’re like me, the backspace key is used almost as often as the space bar. So it’s hard to remember not to use it when working inside an input box. I know Adobe is dedicated to fixing bugs and am sure this one will get fixed in the near future.

NEW and FREE: TK Lum-Mask plugin for Adobe Photoshop 2021

I’m excited to announce the launch of the new “TK Lum-Mask” plugin for Adobe Photoshop.  TK Lum-Mask is a luminosity mask generator built on Adobe’s Unified Extensibility Platform (UXP), which is new in Photoshop 2021. Luminosity masks are a unique creative tool, and the TK Lum-Mask plugin makes it easy to add them to your workflow.  NOTE: Adobe uses the more inclusive term “plugin” to refer to applications developed on UXP, instead of “panel.”

The TK Lum-Mask plugin is FREE and available right now through the new plugin marketplace. It requires having Photoshop 2021 (Photoshop v 22.0) installed, so be sure to do that first. If you don’t see the update listed in your Creative Cloud Desktop app, click “Help > Check for updates” in order to activate this update in your “Apps > Updates” menu. Once Photoshop v 22.0 is installed, CLICK HERE to install the TK Lum-Mask plugin.

Then either click the “Open link” button that pops up or the “Get” button on the webpage. After that, follow the prompts to install the plugin.

Alternatively, you can discover and install the plugin from your Creative Cloud Desktop app following these steps:

  1. Open the Creative Cloud Desktop app.
  2. Click on the “Marketplace” tab at the top.
  3. Click on the “All plugins” menu along the side.
  4. Find “TK Luminosity Mask” in the list of plugins.
  5. Click the “Get” button and follow the on-screen prompts to install it.

You will see the message below when the plugin has installed successfully.

Once the plugin is installed, open Photoshop and click through Plugins menu > TK Luminosity Mask > TK Lum-Mask to open the plugin. 

NOTE:  “Plugins” is a new top-level menu to access all UXP-based plugins in Photoshop 2021.

The TK Lum-Mask plugin is similar to the TK Basic V6 panel, which you may already have. It quickly generates preset Lights, Darks, and Midtones luminosity masks that can be viewed in real time on-screen in Photoshop. The plugin also provides several output options for deploying the masks that are created. The bit depth of the masks generated by the plugin always matches that of the image, so with 16-bit images you get 16-bit masks throughout the process. The images below outline how this plugin works. You can also download the instructions PDF here.

You might be wondering what the new UXP architecture means for current Photoshop extensions, like the TK7 panel.  Adobe’s long-term goal is to move all Photoshop plugins to UXP, but it also plans to continue supporting the current panel architecture, called “CEP,” for the foreseeable future, so there is no danger that the TK7 panel will stop working anytime soon.

I’ve been collaborating with the Adobe team for several months to build the new TK Lum-Mask plugin and have also started transitioning the TK7 modules to UXP while adding some new features.  I hope to complete the work in 2021 and release the UXP versions of TK7 when they’re ready. 

Even if are using the Basic V6 or TK7 panel now, I’d recommend installing the UXP-powered TK Lum-Mask plugin (even temporarily) to get a sense for where things are headed.  It has a new look that will likely find its way into other plugins I develop on this platform.  If you like what you see, please consider leaving a positive rating in the plugin’s marketplace listing.  If you don’t like it or have suggestions on how to improve it, please contact me with your recommendations.

NOTE: It’s easy to uninstall this plugin at any time using the “Marketplace” tab within the Creative Cloud Desktop app.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Photoshop is the only image-developing software that I know of that supports third-party extensions like TK7 and TK Lum-Mask, and it was exciting to work with the Adobe team to use UXP to create the TK Lum-Mask plugin.  Adobe’s move to the UXP architecture demonstrates their continued commitment to allow third-party developers to create unique applications that feel native to Photoshop.  Collaborating with Adobe also provided a first-hand look at the resources needed to make this possible, and the team behind this effort is impressive.  UXP is a big step forward that will allow new and better things to happen with Photoshop.