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. 

TK7 Go panel workflow

panel with version number

Sean Bagshaw has an excellent video that demonstrates how the new TK7 Go module can easily fit into your processing workflow. It’s part of his TK7 Video Guide series and is linked at the bottom of this post. It’s not meant to show every feature in the Go module, but does cover a lot of territory on what’s available. He also touches on some important decision-making aspects of using masks and shows how to create and use them efficiently. Here are some of the highlights.

The mental checklist. This is a really nice review on how to decide what type of mask to use, or even if a mask is needed at all. Basically, deciding what you want to accomplish is an important first step in choosing the best tool to achieve that goal.

Experimentation is sometimes necessary. The best type of pixel-value mask (luminosity, color, zone, channel, saturation, or vibrance), isn’t always obvious. You might try one mask and find it’s not ideal. If that happens, don’t give up. As Sean demonstrates, it’s easy to switch to a different type of mask with the Go module, and there’s a good chance there will one that matches the areas of the image you want to select.

The targeted adjustment tool is your friend. Once you find a mask that works and have created an adjustment layer with the mask as a layer mask, the targeted-adjustment tool makes the necessary adjustment easy. Simply choose the tool in the Properties panel and then click and drag on the image. The tool finds the matching color or tone in the image and dragging on the image makes the adjustment. Curves, Hue/Saturation, and Black and White adjustment layers offer the targeted adjustment tool.

The mask calculator is cool. I’m always impressed at how combining different types of masks using this calculator can create some very useful masks that would be hard to achieve without it. It does take a little practice to think in terms of selected areas instead of numbers when using the mask calculator, but once you see how it works, a whole new level of custom masks becomes available. As Sean shows in the video, the subtract function is one of the most useful calculations. Be sure to give it a try.

Image processing with masks is incremental. Using pixel-value masks is not a one-click approach to image development. Each mask is usually combined with just one step in the process, and it’s the combination of several masks and steps that creates the final image. The Go module makes generating and using complex masks easy, but you’ll still spend some time deciding how things flow. Because of this hands-on approach, the final image reflects your individual sense of how this photograph should look and what it conveys to the viewer. In the end, it’s your vision that these masks make possible.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy this video and I hope it gives you new ideas for using pixel-value masks and the Go module to develop your images.

Be sure to subscribe to Sean’s YouTube channel for more videos about photography and digital processing.

TK7: Update 2020

The updated TK7 panel is now available. This is a major update for 2020 that was released on July 1 and starts version 2.0 for the TK7 panel. A subsequent bug fix (version 2.0.1) was released roughly a week later (July 6 and 7) to provide a workaround for changes Adobe introduced in the latest version of Photoshop 2020 v21.2.

Previous customers should have received an email from Sean Bagshaw or me detailing update options and providing appropriate discount codes. These update emails were sent on July 1 and July 2. Be sure to check your junk/spam folder for these dates if you didn’t receive update information. My MailChimp server indicates about 20% of these emails are still unopened. If you can’t find it, contact Sean if you originally purchased from him or contact me if you purchased from me.

If you downloaded the updated panel from July 1 through July 6, before I fixed the bug, you were sent a additional download info for updating to version 2.0.1 on July 6 or 7. Again, you may need to check spam/junk folder. If you didn’t receive the new download link for the bug fix, you can also download again using your original download link. That original link now downloads the bug-fixed version of the panel, version 2.0.1. A fresh download will contain the new installer that removes your previous installation and installs the latest version of the panel. The Go module will say “TK7 v 2.0.1” if you have the most up-to-date version of the TK7 panel installed. I apologize for the inconvenience required by this bug fix, but it didn’t show up until Photoshop 2020 v21.2 was released on June 15, and since most people are unaffected by it, it wasn’t well reported until after the new TK7 update was released. Once I could predictably replicate it, I coded a workaround and released it as version 2.0.1.

panel with version number

Despite having to rectify an unexpected bug that showed up in Photoshop 2020, I’m still very excited about the latest update of the TK7 panel. In addition to keeping all the previous modules and features, it adds the new Go module for making pixel-based masks and several new features in the Combo and Cx modules. The videos at the bottom of this post review and demonstrate some of them.

The Go module is certainly the biggest change. It provides an entirely new way to make pixel-based masks, like luminosity masks. It’s still very fast at generating masks and it still makes 16-bit masks, but it has a new layout to simplify the entire process of generating, modifying, and then deploying these masks. Some of its features are listed below.

  • A distinctive interface for each of the different types of masks (luminosity presets, Zone masks, Infinity Color masks, Saturation and Vibrance masks, My Channels masks, and calculated masks).
  • New Zone masks that provide new ways to control zone width and brightness plus linear Zone mask presets.
  • Color presets for Infinity Color masks and a new method to adjust color mask brightness.
  • More output options on the main interface eliminates the need to open a menu to access common deployment methods. These now include the ability to generate common adjustment layers and also to quickly set up burning and dodging by painting through luminosity masks.

I see the Go module as an evolution of the RapidMask module. Go has most of the same functions, but with a simpler interface that’s easier to learn and navigate and with more core functions accessible directly from the front of the panel.

The Combo and Cx modules have also been significantly improved in this update.

panel with version number

New features include:

  • Live-clipping in order to view when highlights and shadows clip as you’re adjusting the image or when burning and dodging.
  • A dedicated “Apply” button for interfacing with the Channels panel to easily apply channel masks as layer masks or to load them as selections.
  • An image-mask toggle button to switch between viewing the image and the layer mask with no shortcut keys.
  • New actions: Soft Pop and Paint Contrast.
  • User actions that are easier to set up and access.
  • Buttons that can be reprogrammed and renamed to run the user’s actions instead of the button’s default action.
  • Color-tagging for buttons and menu items to help you find your favorites faster.

These new features in Combo and Cx will add improved capability and efficiency within your Photoshop workflow

The videos below review the new features and show how they work.

NOTE: I’ve been working on this update for nearly a year and could not have done it without the input and help from many people. These includes my affiliates: Sean Bagshaw, Rafael Coutinho, Antonio Prado, Roy Yuan, Isabella Tabacchi, and Andre Distel. Bruce Bartholomew was a major contributor in providing new ideas, proofreading, and suggesting improvement. Watching Steve Dell use the panel was also extremely useful in seeing how it worked for others and ways it could be improved. Email conversations with Gerald Vincent also led to improvements. In addition, there were countless emails, conversations, and YouTube videos that triggered new ideas that found their way into various parts of the panel. I am sincerely grateful for the network of photographers who use the panel and provide feedback on how to make it better.

TK7 update information

This is just a quick post to let you know that I’m in the process of releasing a major update to the TK7 panel. Over the next week I’ll be emailing previous customers with update options. Please watch for this information. It might end up in your junk/spam folder, so be sure to check there.

Unfortunately, my download server will likely NOT be able to keep up with all the requests for free updates. TK7 purchases within the previous 12-month period are slated to get a free update. That means, at least initially, there will be some days when you might not be able to get a free update once the limit for free updates is exceeded. If that happens, please try again the following day. I’ll apologize in advance for this inconvenience. I purchased additional server capacity, so it should only be for the first few days. Previous customers outside the 12-month free-update period will get a 50% discount. These will not be affected; only free updates are limited by the download server.

I’m really excited about this update and think you will be too. There’s more information coming soon. Releasing updates is a very busy time and there are always plenty of questions. I’ll post additional information next week once I’ve contacted everyone and am sure the download server is able to keep up. Please be patient until then and be sure you’re subscribed to get the latest information.

NOTE: To install the updated version, just run the installer file in the fresh download. It will remove the old modules and install the new ones.