TK7: Update 2020

During the initial launch period for the updated TK7 panel there is a 25% discount on all products (panels and videos) using the following discount code: 25TK7. It works both on my Panels & Videos page and also on Sean Bagshaw’s website.

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.

Photoshop Essentials: A new course by Sean Bagshaw

Sean Bagshaw has released another excellent video series: Photoshop Essentials for Outdoor Photographers. This course looks at the tools, adjustments, filters, and techniques most useful when using Photoshop to develop nature and landscape images. It’s appropriate for many different skill levels. For beginners it unravels the complexity of Photoshop in order to start using it in an organized manner and to focus on learning those features most useful to outdoor photographers. For intermediate users it offers new ideas to get the most the out the different Photoshop functions and likely explores new ones. And by these criteria, I would have to consider myself only intermediate when it comes to Photoshop (at least compared to Sean) since I found this course full of things I didn’t know. A short list includes the adaptive wide angle filter, ideas for using smart objects, motion blur, highlight recovery with the shadows/highlights adjustment, and lots of new stuff relating to image transformations and perspective control. The bottom line is that you don’t have to be a beginner in Photoshop to appreciate this course. Even seasoned users will benefit from a wide range of new material they will likely encounter here. There’s also nearly an hour’s worth of actual workflow footage that strings together the methods taught in the different chapters so you can see how these techniques can be creatively combined.

I’ve had a close working relationship with Sean for many years and I’m happy to be able to offer this course on my Panels & Videos page. To a large degree, luminosity masks and the TK7 panel are directly built on many of the concepts Sean discusses in this course. Pixel-based masks aren’t all that hard to understand once you know how Photoshop works. So, for some photographers, this course might be an excellent prerequisite for successfully incorporating more advanced techniques, like luminosity masks, into their workflow. You can watch samples here.

Right now there is an automatic 25% discount for all customers when you purchase Photoshop Essentials on my website. This is a limited-time introductory offer. Previous customers should also check their email from last Tuesday, June 9 for additional savings.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy this course. Not only will you learn new ways to use Photoshop, but you’ll also likely be more excited to get outside and take pictures. Please contact me if you have any questions.

TK Quick Tip: Layer Mask mode

One of the best features in the TK7 panel is the ability to view luminosity masks and other pixel-based masks as fast as they’re created. Seeing the actual mask up front allows you to make an initial assessment of what will be revealed and what will be concealed before the mask is actually put into use. It also allows you to modify the mask to make sure it selects the parts of the image you want selected.

When you actually deploy the mask, though, sometimes it’s not quite doing what it was expected to do. Maybe a different mask would have worked better. Or maybe the current mask is pretty good, but still needs additional modification. It’s occasionally hard to know how a particular mask is going to perform until you actually see how it affects the image.

If the mask you created using the TK7 panel was applied as a layer mask, then there’s no need to start all over. The TK7 panel has “Layer Mask mode” that lets you modify layers masks or even change to a totally different mask without going through the process of generating and applying a new mask.

In the video below, Sean Bagshaw covers three situations where Layer Mask mode comes in handy.

  • Changing to a different mask entirely.
  • Modifying the current layer mask.
  • Exposure-blending to control dynamic range.

The key feature in all these examples is that the image itself drives the decision-making process. In Layer Mask mode, you no longer see the mask since it automatically gets applied as a layer mask to the active layer. What you see instead is the effect the mask has on the image. So in layer Mask Mode you’re choosing the mask based on how the image looks and not on how the mask looks. You can still look at the mask if you want to, but you’ll also be able to instantly see how the mask affects the image. As always, Sean does an excellent job walking you through the process. I hope you’ll give it a try.

TK Quick Tip: Frequency separation

Luminosity masks are only one feature of the TK7 panel. There are also lots of buttons and actions to speed the creative workflow. Sean Bagshaw recently posted a TK Quick Tip video on one of the actions: Frequency Separation. While this technique has its origins in fashion and portrait photography, Sean shows how it can also be applied to nature and other photographic situations.

Frequency separation literally separates the image into two layers. One layer contains the color information (low-frequency) and the other the texture information (high-frequency). Once separated, these two component can be dealt with independently. Image cleanup is the main application for this technique and is especially useful when standard methods−like the clone stamp, patch, and healing brush tools−aren’t doing a great job.

Sun flare, human or animal tracks, and certain out-of-place elements in the image are situations where frequency separation is especially useful. The Frequency Separation action is found in the “TK►” button menu on the Combo and Cx modules of the TK7 panel.

blue-example

There are two important points to keep in mind when using the action.

1) The action stops to let the user enter a blur radius. A good choice for touching up color is the default 10-pixels value. For fixing texture issues, increase the blur radius so that it blurs out the unwanted texture or feature.

blue-example

2) Once the new layers are generated, the Clone Stamp tool is commonly used in the cleanup/repair process. It’s very important to set the tool’s “Sample” option to “Current Layer” in order to confine the needed cloning to just one of the frequency separation layers.

blue-example

Sean shows you how to do all this in the video below. I’m sure you’ll find it useful.

Be sure to subscribe to Sean’s YouTube channel for more great tips on photography and post-processing including those listed below.
Frequency separation
Mask-the-Rapid-Mask modification
“My Channels” masks
Infinity color masks
Linked vs. unlinked smart objects
Three ways to use Levels and Curves
Reusing saved luminosity masks
Developing a quality night sky
Split toning
Cloud sculpting
Exposure blending