TK Actions Quick Tip

As many of you know, I’ve been collaborating with Sean Bagshaw for many years on luminosity masks and Photoshop extension panels. He not only feeds me ideas for improved ways to use pixel-based masks, but his videos have also been instrumental in explaining these techniques to the photo community.

Now that TKActions V6 is complete, Sean is planning to restart his Quick Tip series on how to use the new panel. This will provide a great opportunity to watch an expert using the V6 panel, to get a more in depth look at its many functions, and to pick up some creative ideas for developing images in Photoshop.

I’ll be featuring Sean’s videos on this blog and providing some commentary on the techniques, but you might also want to subscribe to Sean’s YouTube channel. That way you can get notified of the other videos that he regularly publishes. He’s got a really nice teaching style that provides a lot of information and is also easy to follow.

His first V6 panel Quick Tip is below and looks at his favorite new features. It’s less than 5 minutes long and gives you an idea of what’s coming.

TKActions V6: New modules

“Combo” and “Batch” are the newest modules to be released in the latest update of the TKActions V6 panel. The RapidMask2 V6 module was released in October 2017. With the release of these two new modules, the V6 panel is now complete.

NOTE: Previous V5 and V5/V6 customers have already been sent information for a free download of these updated V6 modules. Check your spam/junk if you missed it. Update information was sent on February 26 and resent on March 3. If you’ve not purchased the panel yet, for the next 3 weeks you can use the following code on the Panels & Videos page for a 25% discount on all items: V625off

The new Combo module comes in two versions: Combo and ComboX (also designated Cx). The different arrangements have identical functions, but they make it possible to create two very different workspaces to utilize the V6 panel. This is explained in the “Custom V6 Panel Workspace” video at the end of this blog.

TKAction V6 panel

The Combo module combines the Control and Action modules of the V5 panel into one. This continues the evolution away from the button-crazy, multi-mega-panel design trend to a more compact, efficient, and logical workspace that started with RapidMask2. Most users will now need just two modules in order to access V6 functions: the RapidMask2 module makes all the different luminosity masks and Combo runs Photoshop. The V6 modules use smart menus to replace confusing tabs and even entire panels. A good example is the “TK ▶” button. It opens a menu that contains all the actions of the V5 Actions module plus several new ones (image below). While these actions can be extremely useful when developing images, it’s not necessary to have them in a separate panel given that they are used one at a time and generally only occasionally during processing. The smart menus in the Combo and RapidMask2 modules track what’s happening and automatically close once they’ve served their purpose.

TKActiosn actions menu

Below is a short list of the features of the new Combo/Cx modules.

  • Compact design−Combines the all features, functions, and actions of the V5 Control and Actions modules into one.
  • Run Photoshop from the module−Many common Photoshop functions, keyboard shortcuts, and menu items can be run with a single button click from the module.
  • Muted color interface separates buttons into logical groups in order to quickly find the correct Photoshop function. (Color is adjustable in the Settings window.)
  • Multi-function buttons−Several buttons have dual functions that are graphically displayed on the button itself.
  • Use the “TK ▶” button to access the creative Photoshop actions menu−Includes new actions for Smart Orton and Neutralize Cast 2 for creative development, and Stack, Align, and Focus Blend for blending multiple exposures.
  • Integrated web-sharpening−Sharpen images for the web to any dimension, convert to sRGB, and run post-sharpening actions with one click directly from the module.
  • Expanded user actions−Ten programmable actions, accessed via the “User ▶” button, allow users to run their own actions directly from the panel.

This update also includes some additional enhancements to the RapidMask2 module that was released in October 2017.

  • Advanced Mask Calculator−Any mask created using the panel can be added, subtracted, and intersected with any other mask. This makes it possible to combine luminosity, color, saturation, modified, and even user-created masks in any manner desired. There is also an Advanced Mask Calculator in Layer Mask Mode so users can see the results reflected immediately in the image itself.
  • Enhanced “Pick” button−The Zone mask that is picked is highlighted directly on the panel. This makes it easy to experiment with adjacent or nearby zone masks to see if one of them might work a bit better.
  • Properties panel toggle−Creating an adjustment layer automatically opens the Properties panel so that the desired adjustment can quickly be made. This feature is also active when using the Combo panel to create adjustment layers.

The Batch module is also part of this release. It resizes and sharpens entire folders of images for web presentation. It may not be used frequently, but can be huge time-saver when there are lots of images to sharpen.

The videos below provide a brief overview of the V6 panel. Additional information can be found on my website. The comprehensive instructions PDF for the V6 panel can be downloaded here. To purchase the V6 panel plus other panels and videos, please visit the Panels & Videos page. Don’t forget to use the V625off discount code. It also works on Sean Bagshaw’s videos listed on that page.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Complete Workflow: Northland−A new video series by Sean Bagshaw

I’m very excited to let readers know that Sean Bagshaw released a new start-to-finish workflow series. It features his recent “Northland” image from Lofoten, Norway, and I think it’s his best video series yet. It takes some flat, colorless RAW files and shows how they can be transformed into a photograph full of drama, light, texture, and contrast. The finished image is shown below. Roll the mouse over it to see how it looks without the Photoshop adjustments (might take a few seconds to load). The transformation is remarkable and is covered in detail in the new series.


The final image is beautiful and quite striking, but the actual steps to get there are surprisingly straightforward. Sean mentions in the first chapter that he obviously had to work through the various steps before recording the video, but he also details his creative vision for the image so viewers can understand how it informs the development process. This, along with his excellent teaching style, makes the videos very easy to follow and understand. The three RAW files used to create the image are included in the download folder so viewers can work along with Sean.

While the “Northland” video chapters provide an excellent demonstration of development technique, they’re not meant to be a how-to guide for TKActions. However, the TKActions V5/V6 panel is used throughout the series. Luminosity and other pixel-based masks have long been a component of Sean’s workflow, and, since I frequently collaborate with him, the panel has naturally evolved to support this high level of creativity. It’s instructive even for me to watch how Sean uses this tool to develop his images, often in ways I hadn’t considered before. There is a lot of functionality and possibility built into the panel, and Sean does a great job showing how to use the various options to enhance artistic expression.

I know Sean’s videos are a great benefit to many photographers, and I’m happy to recommend them and offer them on my Panels & Videos page. For the “Complete Workflow: Northland” video series, readers can get a 15% discount by entering the following code in the shopping cart: CWFN15 (this code also stacks with the quantity discounts listed on the page). I’m sure you’ll enjoy watching what he does here and will find many useful techniques to apply to your images.

Note to previous customers: A private discount code was emailed from my download server to you on October 3. Contact me if you didn’t receive it.

The first video below shows a time-lapse of the entire series and the second a segment demonstrating a customized Orton effect.

Please visit Sean’s YouTube channel for more videos.

RapidMask2: The first TKActions V6 module

I’m pleased to announce that there is a new RapidMask2 module for TKActions.

RapidMask2 module

Since releasing the TKActions V5 panel last December I’ve played with several new ideas for using the Rapid Mask engine to generate luminosity and other masks in Photoshop. The new RapidMask2 module is the result of these experiments and effectively replaces the V5 Intro, RapidMask, and LayerMask modules. It has all their functionality plus lots of new features.

Because it’s such a significant improvement, RapidMask2 is going to start TKActions V6. TKActions already went modular with the V5 panel, so I’ll simply be updating and releasing new V6 modules, like RapdidMask2, when they are finished. Since this first V6 module is happening relatively soon after the release of the V5 panel, the new V6 modules will be free to customers who have already purchased V5. During the transition from V5 to V6, customers will receive all V5 and V6 modules and can choose the ones they want use.

Customers who purchased V5 for PS CC were emailed links to download RapidMask2 directly from the server on September 5/6. Be sure to check your email’s junk/spam folder if you missed it. Also, be sure to add the server’s address (client@e-junkie.com) as a safe email contact to insure future updates go to your inbox and do not get sorted to the spam/junk folder where they can be missed.

A couple of important things:

  1. Spanish customers have not received their updates yet. I apologize for the delay. Hopefully everything will be ready next week.
  2. There is no Photoshop CS6 version of RapidMask2. This module uses advanced coding that is only supported by Photoshop CC. V5 customers using CS6 should contact me if they upgrade to CC.

Below is a list of the most important new features in RapidMask2.

  • Better organized−Four distinct sections (SOURCE, MASK, MODIFY, and OUTPUT) that mirror the mask-making process.
  • Source menus−New menu design for choosing different pixel data as the starting point for making masks.
  • Spectrum interface−Compact spectrum interface for choosing different masks.
  • New masks−Lights-6, Darks-6, and Vibrance.
  • User-created color masks−Color masks that target specific colors can be generated with ease and converted to Rapid Masks for modification and output.
  • Add and subtract masks with calculator simplicity−Two buttons, plus(+) and minus(-), make it so all masks can be added and subtracted just like using a calculator.
  • Enhanced “Layer” output button−Provides new pixel layer choices for generating layers with the current Rapid Mask as the layer mask.
  • Updated Layer Mask mode−Provides an image-based option to quickly choose or create the best mask by having it applied directly as a layer mask on the active layer.
  • Accent color−There is just one color for the entire module, an accent color, that users can change to whatever they prefer.
  • Click tracking−Buttons retain an accent-colored shadow after clicking so users can track which mask they last chose.

The video below reviews these features in more detail. It is best viewed in full-screen mode in order to see everything that’s happening.

Sean Bagshaw has also updated his V5 Video Guide series to include five new videos that cover the RapidMask2 module in detail. A download link for these has also been emailed to customers who purchased his original V5 Video Guide. The new vids are included in his updated V5/V6 Video Guide series. The intro is shown below.

If you already have the V5 panel, I think you’ll find the new RapidMask2 module a big step forward both in masking functionality and ease of use. Please be sure to check for the free update in your email, install it, and give it a try.

If you don’t have the TKActions panel yet, a 25% discount code is available for the next two weeks: V625off.
It provides a 25% discount on anything on the Panels & Videos page.

TKActions V5: The next step in luminosity masks (discount code included)

I’m very happy to announce the all new TKActions V5 panel for Photoshop. This version is the next step in the evolution of luminosity masks, and it’s quite significant. The V5 panel was coded from the ground up and designed to make luminosity masks easier, faster, and more powerful than ever before. It features a new masked-based interface made possible by a speedier method I developed to generate pixel-based masks. Users will now see luminosity masks up front to quickly decide which one to use. If the standard masks aren’t quite right, no problem. There are buttons to modify any mask in real time and create a custom mask specific to the image. To complete the process, there is a full range of dedicated output buttons to insure a 16-bit workflow from mask to image.

It’s worth noting that the V5 panel still makes true 16-bit luminosity masks using Photoshop calculations.  They are the same self-feathering masks that have changed the way we develop images in Photoshop.  But now they’re available faster than ever, can be infinitely customized, and are displayed on-screen in a way that makes them much easier to see and use.

The new panel is also much smaller.  Instead of one large mega-panel, the V5 is a series of modules.  Users can open, close, dock, and arrange the modules in whatever way works best for their workflow.

Additional features in the TKActions V5 panel include:

Extended spectrums in multiple channels.  In addition to the full spectrum of luminosity masks, the V5 generates Lights, Darks and Zone masks for component color channels, saturation/vibrance, color, and Color Range.

Quick-click “Control” module.  This module has new buttons to run Photoshop to avoid having to search menus or remember keyboard shortcuts.

Quick-learn “Intro” module. This new module provides a simplified interface that creates all the basic luminosity masks, offers infinity modification, and has the full range of deployment options. Plus there is extended rollover help for those just getting started using luminosity masks.

Advanced “Auto-Apply” option.  Applies masks directly to the active layer to instantly see the effect on the image.

Updated web-sharpening.  Now with new controls for color profile conversion, running a personal action on the sharpened image, and an “extra sharp” option for detailed images.

Batch sharpening.  Entire folders of images can be sharpened and saved instead of doing one at a time.

Multiple languages.  The V5 comes programmed with a user interface that displays in four languages−English, Italian, German, or Spanish.

Updated active selection indicator.  Users can now choose different active selection indicators to optimize how this feature displays on each module.

Rollover help on all buttons. A “Help” window at the bottom of each module tells what each button does.

Many other new actions and features. Mask modification, smart “Pick” button, history tracking of luminosity masks, creative image enhancement, and much more

There are videos about the new panel below.  The one by Sean Bagshaw is from his new V5 Video Guide series.  More information and additional videos can be viewed on my website. You can also download the detailed Instructions PDF.

There are two different versions of the V5 panel:  one for Photoshop CS6 and another for Photoshop CC. An illustrated installation guide is included in the download folder.

As part of the official release of the new panel, an introductory discount is available to everyone on new purchases for next 2 weeks. Use the following code: V520off

It takes 20% off anything on the Panels & Videos page including the new V5 panel and Sean’s V5 Video Guide series that explains it in detail.  Just copy and paste the code in the shopping cart to take advantage of this discount.

I hope you will give the TKActions V5 panel and videos a try.  It’s another big step forward for luminosity masks and will change forever the way you use them.

NOTE #1:  Things tend to get a bit hectic when there is a new panel. If you leave a comment or contact me and I don’t respond right away, please be patient. It may take a few days, but I’ll eventually catch up.

NOTE #2: The TK Infinity Mask panel has NOT been updated. This panel works independently of the V5 and remains the same. The TKActions V5 panel only replaces the TKActions V4 panel.

 

 

NEW! TKActions Basic Panel–FREE!

I’m pleased to announce the availability of a new extension panel for Photoshop. The TKActions Basic panel creates luminosity masks and is meant to provide a simple way for anyone to add these techniques to their workflow.

The Basic panel incorporates the latest 16-bit method for making luminosity masks.  It’s essentially the “Basic” tab of the TKActions V4 panel with a new layout and added features.  The panel’s embedded scripts create Lights, Darks, and Midtones luminosity masks and also generate Curves and Levels adjustment layers with luminosity masks as the layer masks.  This makes it super easy to start using luminosity masks to confine adjustments to specific tones and to see how adjustments through these masks blend perfectly into the rest of the image.

The “Channels” section of the panel creates luminosity masks on Photoshop’s Channels panel AND also creates an active selection of the designated mask at the same time.  Active luminosity selections are the basis for luminosity painting, one of the most powerful methods for using luminosity masks.  It’s an excellent technique for localizing brightness adjustments when burning and dodging.  Painting through luminosity selections also provides precision for mask painting when exposure blending.

There is an integrated active selection indicator at the top of the panel. It’s a black and white scrolling bar that turns on anytime Photoshop detects an active selection. Since some luminosity selections do not generate selection borders (marching ants), this animated indicator informs the user when a selection is indeed present. Even if the marching ants are hidden in order to better evaluate painting through a selection, the indicator stays on and continues to provide a reminder that the selection is still active.

The white box at the bottom of the Basic panel provides rollover Help for any button.  Simply roll the mouse over a button and this area displays a message as to what the button does.

Clicking on the rollover Help window opens the panel’s settings.  From the settings dialog, users can control the panel’s color saturation and choose from five different languages for the panel’s interface.

The Instructions PDF is a short document that provides a more complete overview of the panel and what it does.

The TKActions Basic panel is free and can be downloaded here. It works on Mac and Windows computers and there are versions for Photoshop CC and Photoshop CS6 in the download folder. Four videos by Sean Bagshaw are also included to insure users are able to get the most benefit from the new panel.

TKActions V4 — A New Panel for Luminosity Masks and Beyond

I’m pleased to announce a new TKActions panel for Photoshop. This is the fourth version of this custom luminosity mask panel (V4) and has been completely rebuilt. It takes advantage of new capabilities in Photoshop extension panels–smaller footprint, smarter buttons, updated interface, and more features–to provide users a practical and efficient way to add luminosity masks to their workflow.

TKActions V4 panel

The top part of the panel is a Photoshop control center. It executes many common menu commands and keyboard short cuts with the click of a button. Most of the usual steps for developing an image can be accessed from here.

The bottom of the panel has three tabs. The Spectrum tab provides a new interface for creating luminosity masks. The widths of the buttons in this section roughly match the tonal ranges that will be selected in the image. Standard luminosity masks (Lights/Darks/Midtones) as well as subtracted and zone masks can now all be created with a single click.

In addition to the Spectrum tab, the bottom of the panel also has an Actions and Basic tab. The Actions tab has several useful functions for enhancing the image and a web-sharpening section for preparing images for jpeg output that has been completely redesigned. The Basic tab provides an alternate interface for using luminosity masks with Curves and Levels adjustment layers and as Channel masks and selections.

TKActions V4 panel

A partial list of new features and improvements in the V4 panel includes:

  • 16-bit luminosity masks−These were discussed in previous blog posts.
  • Spectrum selection−Creates ALL masks, including zone and subtracted masks, that were available in the previous version 3 panel.
  • Integrated actions−No more action sets to install on Photoshop’s regular Actions panel.
  • Smart buttons−Panel buttons monitor the Photoshop workflow and only fire at the right time.
  • Toggle buttons−Allows one button to perform multiple tasks.
  • Active selection indicator−Keeps track of when there is an active selection even if the marching ants aren’t visible.
  • Updated web-sharpening−No more fixed-dimensions. Users can enter their preferred dimension from 100 to 3000 pixels and easily tailor the level of sharpening to their taste.
  • Condensed history−No more scrolling histories for buttons that execute multiple steps. One button, one click, one entry on the History panel, Ctrl/Command-Z to undo it.
  • Tonal Clarity−A saturation-neutral method for enhancing detail and structure in an image.
  • One-click Photoshop control−Many Photoshop menu commands and keyboard shortcuts can now be accessed from a color-coded interface for more efficient image processing.
  • Midpoint rollovers−Choose among the different luminosity masks based on tones sampled from the image.
  • Rapid clear channels−Quickly remove all alpha channels from the Channels panel to decrease file size and memory use.
  • Creative Cloud installation−Once acquired, the new panel and future updates are automatically installed on computers signed in to the Creative Cloud desktop application (see this video and this one).

The new V4 panel is designed to help take the guesswork out of luminosity masks and make them more accessible than ever. It’s also meant to make other actions and tools more available to allow photographers to creatively develop their images. My website has additional information. The complete Instructions PDF can be downloaded and covers all aspects of the panel. Sean Bagshaw has also recorded a corresponding video series called the Video Guide to TKActions that explains the new panel in detail. Samples can be found below.

Purchase options for the new panel and videos are on the Special Offers page. A German version of the panel and accompanying videos are available on André Distel’s website.