TK8 Update: Version 1.0.3 now available

Photoshop 2022 is scheduled to be released this week in conjunction with Adobe’s annual creativity summit known as Adobe MAX. Unfortunately, new versions of Photoshop can also introduce new bugs that can affect the app in different ways. This Adobe Tech Blog from mid-October indicates that Adobe is aware that Photoshop 2022 has the potential to create problems with UXP panels, like the recently released TK8 plugin. I’ve been monitoring the situation closely and testing with Photoshop (beta) to get a sense of how TK8 might be affected. NOTE: Photoshop (beta) is available to anyone via the Creative Cloud Desktop app and is already at version 23.0.0, which denotes Photoshop 2022. Overall, it looks like TK8 will still work in Photoshop 2022, though I have some concerns given the nature of the problem outlined in the article. The one interface issue I’ve noticed (that’s not addressed in the article), is that the mouse cursor sometimes doesn’t properly display the diagonal arrow when it’s moving over TK8 buttons. It might be a double-arrow grabber or even the current tool icon in Photoshop. Weird behavior, for sure, but relatively minor compared to the issues that were occurring in earlier versions of Photoshop (beta).

Based on the Adobe Tech Blog, I’ve made a number of changes to the code for the TK8 plugin to help insure there is less of a chance of serious problems when Photoshop 2022 becomes available. I hopefully even fixed the weird cursor issue as that was particularly annoying to me. As a result, there is a new version of TK8 available at the download server—TK8 version 1.0.3. You can always tell which version of the plugin you have by looking at the bottom right of the Preferences interface, which is accessed by clicking the “TK” button on any module.

The new version of TK8 also fixes some typos and tooltip issues that were brought to my attention. There are no new features or functions. The new version is just an effort to correct problems expected when Adobe releases Photoshop 2022.

Recommendations:

  • Update your TK8 plugin to TK8 version 1.0.3 by downloading again using your original download link. The download server has been sending out version 1.0.3 since yesterday (Saturday). Running the installers in a fresh download will overwrite the current version with version 1.0.3. Search your email for “client@e-junkie.com” (the address used by the download server) or “Tony Kuyper” (if you purchased from my website) to find your original download link. NOTE: Using your original download link is the preferred method for updating.
  • If you can’t find your original download link, watch your email for how to get a new one on Monday, October 25. I’m planning to send a MailChimp campaign to TK8 plugin customers on that day, and it will include information for getting a new download link if you can’t find yours. So, please wait for that email instead of contacting me today.
  • Download and install TK8 version 1.0.3 even if you don’t plan to install Photoshop 2022 right away. TK8 version 1.0.3 works in Photoshop 2021 and corrects a few minor bugs. So it is fine to install it and update to Photoshop 2022 later. The old version of TK8 will also still probably work in Photoshop 2022 based on what I’m seeing in Photoshop (beta), but TK8 version 1.0.3 will work better, and I recommend installing it.
  • When you do update to Photoshop 2022, keep your eyes open for other problems. I hope I have corrected everything in TK8, but Photoshop updates are unpredictable. For example, there are reports of user-specific settings for plugins (like personal actions you’ve added to the Combo/Cx modules or color-tagged buttons or menu items) being lost when updating to a new version of Photoshop. So be aware that this may occur, although this is not something I can fix. Retaining your Photoshop 2021 preferences, if given the option when updating to Photoshop 2022, might help prevent losing the user-specific settings.

It’s unfortunate that Photoshop updates are sometimes accompanied by new bugs. Adobe actively monitors things and sends out fixes periodically between the yearly releases. Yes, it’s frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world. Software is complex, and it’s almost predictable that bugs will occur. The Adobe Tech Blog indicates that Adobe is working hard to correct the current problems. However, the UXP architecture is still evolving, so there may be additional surprises in the future. I’ll try to stay on top of things and issue updates to TK8 when necessary. Be sure to hold on to your download link as it will always allow you to get the latest version.

If there are additional issues uncovered when Photoshop 2022 is released, I’ll post information here. Also, if you notice any issues specific to TK8 when working with Photoshop 2022, please contact me so I can investigate.

Finally, I am a “silver” sponsor at this year’s Adobe MAX event. If you attend, please stop by and visit the “TK Luminosity Masks” sponsor site. There will be a video on using luminosity masks and special MAX discounts available for items on the Panels & Videos page.

TK8: New features list and videos

As mentioned in the previous post, launching the TK8 plugin encountered some major issues. They have been taken care of now and the sales page and download server are working properly. Thank you for your patience during this unfortunate event. I’m staying caught up on email for the most part now and the feedback has been mostly positive. I’m happy to hear that the transition from TK7 was straightforward for most users and that the interface, especially the Multi-Mask module, is easier to navigate. As a reminder, the discount codes sent to previous customers are good until October 22, and there is also a site-wide 25% discount on everything using the code: TK25off

There are a lot of new and improved features in TK8. I wanted to take it well beyond what TK7 offered. I know no one will use ALL the buttons and functions in TK8, but hopefully there will be enough favorites for everyone to make the plugin an important tool in their Photoshop workflow.

It would nearly impossible to cover all the new features in detail in one blog post, but I did want to provide a list so readers have an idea of what to look for and what to expect. Below this list are several videos (in different languages) that review some of the new features.

All modules

  • Tooltips are persistent unless turned off, but even turned off, holding down the “ALT” key on Windows or the “option” key on Mac displays them when moving the mouse over a button.
  • New selection indicators are more prominent, easier to see, and less likely to be overlooked.
  • Improved error message alerts for when user does something that could cause an unexpected result, and these are now translated into different languages.
  • More icons/fewer words.

Multi-Mask module (replaces TK7 Go and RapidMask modules)

  • New smart-phone-like interface for accessing different types of masks and functions.
  • Color-wheel-based color grading (like in Camera Raw).
  • Edge masks that find edges in the image.
  • Edit selections as masks.
  • Workflow extras which include sketch actions and gradient actions.
  • One-click add-adjustment-layer buttons at the bottom of the main interface for quickly making favorite adjustment layers.
  • Layer Mask mode with changeable luminosity masks (Lights, Darks, and Midtones) for quickly testing the effect of different masks on the image.
  • 2-UP mode also returns to Layer Mask mode.
  • Real-time Levels and Curves modification for any mask.
  • Mask calculator has been moved to the output section and has bigger buttons.
  • “Paint Color” output option for adding color to the image through a mask selection using Linear Light blend mode for the layer being painted.

Combo/Cx modules

  • Many new buttons: Linear Light blend mode at 15% fill opacity (replaces Hard Light)Merge Visible is now Stamp Visible (CTRL+click on Windows/command+click on Mac moves it to the top of the layer stack)Select SubjectSelect SkyFeather SelectionExpand SelectionContract SelectionFree TransformExport As…Gradient and Solid Color adjustment layer options added to the Adjustment Layers menu.
  • New “TK” actions: Fill TransparentAlign+FocusFill Edges check boxCTRL/command+click on the Clarity action runs it without the result being turned into a smart object.
  • Expanded web-sharpening options including presets, file-naming, and file-saving.
  • Add your personal watermark/logo with ease.
  • Smart object indicator visually specifies the contents of smart objects.
  • New, easier method to add user and button actions to the module.
  • Ability to add unlimited user actions to the User Actions list.
  • Preference available to NOT close “TK” and “User Actions” menus automatically.  This makes it possible to use Combo or Cx module with an alternate interface (TK or User actions) and thereby use both modules with one set to an alternate interface.

New feature videos

Several of the affiliates I work with have recorded videos discussing the new TK8 features. I’ve linked to them below. Some are in languages besides English.

Sean Bagshaw is basically the Dean of Luminosity Masks. He probably knows the TK8 plugin better than anyone (except maybe me) and has the skills to explain it so that photographers get the most out of it. His TK8 Video Guide is the definitive guide to TK8 for the English-speaking world. In the video below, he reviews his five favorite new TK8 features. Sean’s YouTube channel has a TK Quick Tips playlist.

Dave Kelly is basically an enthusiastic lab assistant at Professor Bagshaw’s Luminosity Mask University. Dave does a weekly series (“TK Friday”) where he focuses on explaining different features in the TK8 plugin and applying them to various images. Dave’s actually a student of many different photography techniques and enjoys sharing what he learns with others. In the video below, he too looks at some of his favorite TK8 features. Dave’s YouTube channel is here.

I’m not a big video maker, but I usually try to make one when updates are released. Below is the video I made for Sean’s, Antonio Prado’s, and André Distel’s video guide courses. It goes over where to find the new features in the TK8 plugin.

Antonio Prado is the Spanish world’s leading expert in everything TK. He too has a very deep understanding of the different pixel-based masks made possible by the TK8 plugin and explains everything in his Videoguía TK8 series. In the video below, in Spanish, he goes over the new features, and only he could cover this much territory in such a short amount of time.

Rafael Coutinho was a major source of ideas for TK8. He was constantly asking for new features and refinements, and they were all good, so I kept adding them. It’s great to have someone like this to prod me into constantly making a better product. In his video below, in French, he also covers the new features in TK8.

Isabella Tabacchi has been working with and teaching about luminosity masks for many years. In the video below, in Italian, she goes over the differences between the TK7 panel and TK8 plugin.

I hope you enjoy the new TK8 plugin.

Coming Soon: TK8

If things go according to plan, the new TK8 plugin will be released next Wednesday, September 22. This article provides information on several aspects surrounding its launch. Please review it carefully if you are a previous customer or are interested in trying the TK8 plugin.

The new TK8 plugin is built using Adobe’s new UXP architecture for extensions. It contains three modules: Multi-Mask, Combo, and Cx. The main interface of each is shown in the image above. TK8 works on Mac and Windows computers including the new Mac “M” computers. The new architecture required completely re-coding everything. Simply creating a TK7 clone would have saved time and been easier, but I wanted to use some of the new capabilities of UXP and also add several new features. So, I pushed ahead with developing a much improved plugin instead. TK8-beta, released in April this year, was essentially that TK7 clone. The full TK8 plugin goes much further. It’s truly a next-generation plugin that offers new levels of control and creativity in Photoshop. NOTE: The UXP architecture means TK8 will only work in Photoshop 2021 or later.

Important update information

The purpose of this post isn’t to detail all the new features in TK8. I’ll cover those in a future article. Right now I just want to let customers know that the plugin is ready and how to make sure they can get a copy if they’re interested. Below are some important points along this line.

  • Customers who purchased TK7 within the last year (12 months) will receive a free TK8 upgrade (some restrictions apply).
  • Previous customers who purchased the TK7 panel more than a year ago (or even an older version of the “TK” panel) will be offered a 50% discount on the new TK8 plugin.
  • Upgrade/update discount codes will be emailed on Wednesday, September 22 to the email address used when making the original purchase. If you have changed your email address since purchasing, contact me AFTER next Wednesday in order to receive the appropriate discount code.
  • Discount codes and upgrades expire in 30 days and will not be renewed or extended unless prior approval has been requested and approved.
  • Download server capability. While items purchased with 25% or 50% discount codes will NOT be affected, the download server will likely be unable to serve all the free upgrade requests, at least initially, probably for three or four days. If you receive an error message when trying to obtain a free upgrade, please try again the following day. I apologize for the inconvenience. Again, purchases with the 25% or 50% discount codes should be OK, just the free downloads may experience delays.
  • There will be a “soft launch” of the TK8 plugin and TK8 Video Guide on Monday, September 20. This mostly involves adding TK8 plugin information and purchase options to my website. The soft launch will test the website and download server to make sure things are working properly. Previous customers, however, should wait until Wednesday, September 22, to receive their discount codes before upgrading. Refunds will not be issued for purchases that do not utilize the appropriate discount codes.
  • There will be a site-wide 25% discount available during the TK8 launch period, so it’s a good time to get a good deal on any of Sean Bagshaw’s videos on the Panels & Videos page.
  • Free downloads for linear camera profiles will be temporarily unavailable during the launch period in order to allow the download server to provide free upgrades instead. If you’d like to download a linear profile for your camera, please do so before next Monday.

TK8 Video Guide

Just like the TK8 plugin is completely new, so is the TK8 Video Guide. Sean Bagshaw (English), Antonio Prado (Spanish), and André Distel (German) have all recorded new video guides covering the TK8 plugin. Each series reviews the plugin in detail in their respective languages and are probably the best way to quickly become proficient at using TK8. These photographers have been involved with the TK panel for many years. Their videos have been instrumental in making luminosity mask techniques available to photographers world-wide. They do a great job demonstrating the features in the TK8 plugin and each series provides numerous examples of innovative ways to add these masks to your workflow.

There will be special discounts on these video series for previous and new customers as well. These discount codes will be sent in a separate email on Wednesday, September 22, so be sure to watch for them. Sample videos will be available to watch when TK8 soft-launches on Monday, September 20. Check the Panels & Videos page for links.

The videos below are trailers from Sean Bagshaw, Antonio Prado, and André Distel for their respective TK8 video courses. In the first one, Sean Bagshaw provides a behind-the-scenes look at what’s involved in making a video course of this scope. He makes it look effortless, but there’s actually a lot of work that goes into a producing videos of this quality.

El siguiente video es un teaser de Antonio Prado en el que puedes ver lo que vas a encontrar en esta nueva versión de la Videoguía TK8.

In dem Video unten zeigt André Distel eine kurze Einführung seines TK V8 Video Guides in deutscher Sprache.

Final Note

I’m excited to finally release TK8. I think it’s the best “TK” panel yet and am sure you will find it useful. However, during a product launch, things tend to get a bit overwhelming with lots of questions and emails. I’ll apologize in advance for my slow replies. If you have a problem with the plugin, please check and try the recommendations in the “Troubleshooting” section of the installation PDF. If you continue to have problems, feel free to contact me, but please be patient. If you don’t hear from me in a day or two that probably means I missed or accidentally deleted your message. It can also indicate you entered an invalid email address on the contact form (that happens too). In either case, just contact me again. I want to help and I’m sure we’ll be able to connect eventually.

I hope you enjoy the TK8 plugin. I appreciate your patience while it was being developed and also the many recommendations and suggestions that have been incorporated into the final version.

The Linear Profile: A new beginning in Lightroom and Camera Raw

Several months ago I switched to using a linear profile as my starting point for RAW file conversions in Camera Raw. It’s been an interesting journey. The linear profile seems to have made Camera Raw more responsive to my edits. Linear profiles work in Lightroom (Lr) the same way as in Camera Raw (Cr). I’ve shared the technique with a few other photographers. The response is usually positive. While some don’t find them all that different than the standard Adobe Raw profiles (like Adobe Standard, Adobe Color, or Adobe Landscape), others have described the experience of using linear profiles as “not fighting the sliders anymore” and “the sliders seem better calibrated.” Using a linear profile offers a subtle shift in the RAW file conversion process that’s helping me take my images further in Lr/Cr before switching over to Photoshop. Yes, I still use luminosity masks and other techniques in Photoshop, but I’m starting with a better conversion and so have less to do to finish the image. The discussion below is partly from the linear profile repository page on my website where there are free downloads of linear profiles for various cameras. The Lr/Cr-ready profiles available there will make it easy for photographers explore the use of linear profiles and determine their potential as a creative tool.

What is a linear profile?

The linear profile is simply a set of instructions that tells Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw, or other RAW processing software how to display the data from a RAW file captured by a digital camera. The conventional profile is non-linear (not a straight line), as shown by the red curve in the attached figure. This bowed profile was selected long ago for practical reasons. Curves with this general shape convert the dull, flat output from a digital camera to a brighter displayed image that more closely resembles how we see things. The red curve in this figure is the Adobe Standard profile. Its shape is typical of commonly used profiles. Note how the red tone curve brightens essentially all pixel values while increasing shadow contrast (steeper curve) and decreasing highlight contrast (less steep curve). The resultant displayed image looks “familiar” with good brightness and contrast. Since the profile is the initial interpretation of the camera RAW data, there are valid reasons to choose one that brings the image to an “attractive” point where the adjustments in Lr/Cr can be used to refine the final result. However, a profile does NOT have to be curved. A linear (straight-line) profile, as shown by the black line in the figure, could also be used. If the profile used by the program is linear, the displayed image is typically less vibrant, but (and this is important) it also better represents the actual data in the RAW file. If the conventional profile is considered step one in the processing workflow, then the linear profile is “step zero.” The linear profile allows ALL pixel adjustments to be made entirely by the photographer, whereas, with a curved (nonlinear) profile, the first major step in developing the image is already shaped by the software and camera engineers who designed that profile. The linear profile takes a step back to offer a new level of control for interpreting digital camera data and opens new opportunities in the process

How to use a linear profile

1. Click “Auto” after applying the linear profile. Installing and using linear profiles is described in this PDF. In terms of using them, my current strategy is a combination of “Auto” and manual. When the linear profile is first applied to the image, it looks darker, less saturated, and has less contrast. This is disappointing, but entirely expected. Remember, the standard Adobe Raw profiles are designed to make the image look good, so removing them and reverting to a linear profile makes the image look not-so-good anymore. However, there is an easy fix to get back a reasonably good starting point. Just click the “Auto” button in Lr/Cr. Adobe’s algorithm for the “Auto” button has gotten pretty good, and even the darker, flatter image that results from applying the linear profile is much improved after clicking it. Using “Auto” with a linear profile frequently gives better results than using it with an Adobe Raw profile. The image below shows the difference between using “Auto” with a linear profile and the Adobe Color profile. With the linear profile (on the right), the highlights are full of texture and detail, and the shadows are not overly contrasty. The Auto-processed linear profile also has richer color and better global contrast. In this case, the linear profile clearly provides a better starting point for additional adjustments. Every image is different, of course, but a linear profile combined with “Auto” is generally a good place to begin.

2. Adjust Exposure and Contrast and other sliders. After clicking “Auto,” an Exposure and Contrast adjustment will almost certainly still be necessary, but don’t stop with those adjustments. The real beauty of using a linear profile is how much more responsive the sliders in Lr/Cr are now compared to starting with one of the Adobe Raw profiles. The various adjustments perform as expected without “breaking” the image, and the sliders often have some additional leeway before reaching their extreme positions where no additional adjustments are possible. Shadows, Highlights, Whites, Blacks, Vibrance, and Saturation can all be useful in fine-tuning the image.

NOTE: An alternate approach is to skip the “Auto” adjustment and start working directly with the Lr/Cr sliders. It’s entirely possible to outperform the “Auto” algorithm, especially once you gain confidence in the way the image responds to the various sliders when starting with a linear profile.

3. Fine-tune color. Adjusting color balance is one of the things that I find especially easy to do with the linear profile. This usually involves just small adjustments with the Vibrance and Saturation sliders in the Basic tab after clicking “Auto”, but I also always visit the Color Mixer in Camera Raw (HSL/Color in Lightroom), since these sliders now work exceptionally well to control hue, saturation, and luminance of the various colors.

Advantages of linear profiles

  • More flexibility in Lr/Cr since the sliders often provide additional room for adjustments.
  • More predictable adjustments in Lr/Cr since the image responds better to slider movements.
  • Better shadow and highlight recovery.
  • Richer, but not over-saturated, colors to work with.
  • Hue, saturation, and luminance adjustments work better.
  • More pleasing RAW conversions.
  • “Expose-to-the-right” has greater potential since applying a linear profile darkens the image.

Linear profiles are camera-specific

Each camera model requires a different linear profile. Once installed, Camera Raw/Lightroom will only display a linear profile option if there is an installed linear profile that matches the camera from which the RAW file was originally produced. Linear profiles for a variety of different camera models can be downloaded at the bottom of the linear profile repository page. If your camera is not listed, contact me to make to have it added to the repository.

Summary

I’m continuing to learn about and experiment with the linear profile for my camera. It takes a little extra effort, but I’m now at the point where I can confidently create a better RAW file conversions than I could using standard Adobe Raw profiles. There is more flexibility in the basic and color adjustments, the sliders are more predictable, and it’s easier to recover good shadow and highlight detail. Overall, the output from Camera Raw is more pleasing, and I’m able to finish the image in Photoshop faster. I hope you’ll give linear profiles a try and see what they can do for your images.

The video below by Dave Kelly reviews the basics of adding a linear profile to your workflow.