(Note #1: Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 was released on 16 June 2015. Information on installing the previous TKActions panel (version 3) in this newly released version of Photoshop CC can be found here .)
(Note #2: The TKActions V4 panel described below was added to this website 17 June 2015. Adobe officially deprecated Extension Manager with the release of CC 2015 products. As such, the CC version of the TKActions V4 panel on the Special Offers page has new installation instructions that are included in the download.)
The TKActions V4 panel is a custom panel that works in Photoshop CS6 and CC 2014/2015. It displays like other panels in Photoshop and makes it easy to play many different actions with the click of a button. While originally developed to simplify working with luminosity masks, it's continued to expand with additional features and functions. Full details on installing and using this new panel are in the Instructions PDF .
(NOTE: While the Instructions PDF is meant to be an all-inclusive guide for using the panel, many people also benefit from a more visual reference. To help meet this need, Sean Bagshaw has recorded a comprehensive set of videos that covers all aspects of installing and using the panel. More information on the videos can be found below.)
I've also worked with André Distel to prepare a German version of the panel. The panel and André's German-language videos on how to use it are on André's Website .
The upper part of the panel has buttons to perform many common tasks in Photoshop. The colored borders indicate groups that have related functions. Many keyboard shortcuts and menu commands can be handled by these buttons, so even if luminosity masks aren't needed, the buttons in this section can still run Photoshop. The top section also contains an active selection indicator. It's a dashed line that turns on anytime there is an active selection. Even if there are no matching ants showing on the image, the active selection indicator keeps the user constantly informed when a selection is present.
The bottom of the panel has 3 tabs−Spectrum, Actions, and Basic.
The Spectrum tab has buttons for creating luminosity masks and selections. The buttons are placed against a tonal gradient and the width of the button approximates the range of tones from the gradient included in the corresponding mask/selection. In addition to this new interface, the method for making luminosity masks has also changed. While the original Luminosity Masks tutorial described the now standard method for creating luminosity masks, the V4 panel employs an entirely new 16-bit process . This insures even greater precision between feathered luminosity selections and image pixels. Clicking a Spectrum button produces BOTH a 16-bit luminosity mask on the Channels panel AND an active selection made from that mask.
The MISCELLANEOUS section of the Actions tab contains buttons with a variety of purposes. "Orton Lights" creates the Orton effect for the image and adds a luminosity mask to restrict it to the lighter tones in the image. "Color Clone" creates a layer where painting changes the color but the texture remains unchanged. "Make-It-Glow" enhances color saturation and diffusion while maintaining image detail
"Tonal Clarity" is a new feature. It's like the Clarity slider in Light Room or Adobe Camera Raw in that it improves image detail and structure. The panel buttons allow it to be targeted to the Lights, Midtones, or Darks via luminosity masks.
The #1 through #6 buttons in the MISCELLANEOUS section allow the user to record their own actions into the panel. These buttons can then be used to play personal actions without having to scroll through actions on the regular Actions panel.
The SATURATION/VIBRANCE section provides an opportunity to address image saturation independent of other variables like hue, brightness, and contrast. Adjustment layers and painting techniques for adjusting saturation can be accessed through the buttons in this section.
The WEB-SHARPENING section has been completely redesigned in the V4 panel. Users now specify three variable−a final dimension, orientation, and strength−and the panel then resizes and sharpens the image in preparation for jpeg output.
The Basic tab provides an alternate interface for generating luminosity masks. There are buttons for creating Curves or Levels adjustment layers with the designated luminosity mask in place as the layer mask. The buttons in the "Channels" column make the listed mask(s) on the Channels panel. Channel buttons that make a single mask also create an active selection of that mask. The 16-bit method for creating luminosity masks has been incorporated into the buttons on the Basic tab.
In addition to the features discussed above, the TKActions V4 panel has many newly added functions and improvements over previous versions.
Where to Get It
The TKActions V4 panel is available on the Special Offers page along with videos and other tutorials to help photographers learn to use luminosity masks. This new panel will hopefully make it easier for photographers to experiment with these techniques and improve their overall efficiency when processing images. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Grateful acknowledgement is extended to Sean Bagshaw, André Distel, Keith Bauer, and Daniel Anderson for their generous and valuable assistance over the years in testing panels, making recommendations, and providing encouragement.
Doug Kaye, Irfan Soomro, Alex Nail, Andreas Resch, Robert Fisher, Chris Tarantino, and many others have contributed suggestions, ideas, and knowledge that have found its way into the current version of the panel in various ways.
Sean Bagshaw Videos—Sean Bagshaw is a super-user of luminosity masks, and his video series The Complete Guide to Luminosity Masks has helped many photographers learn to use luminosity masks successfully in their photographs.
For the new TKActions V4 panel, Sean recorded 19 new videos that provide comprehensive instruction on how to use this tool. While the panel may look a bit overwhelming at first glance, Sean examines the tabs and sections in detail to show how a desired result can be readily achieved using the panel's buttons. The videos cover how to install the panel, how to use the various buttons on the panel, and ways to incorporate the panel into a creative image-processing workflow. Sean has a unique ability to explain even complicated things in a manner that makes them understandable to almost everyone, and while the panel really isn't all that complex, Sean shows just how easy it is to use. The "Video Guide to TKActions" videos are avialble on the Special Offers page. Sample videos from the new series will soon be available below.
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