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Where is QuickMask? Actions?

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  #1  
Old 01-18-2005, 12:26 AM
haertig haertig is offline
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Where is QuickMask? Actions?

Hi Richard -

I have used and recommended HiddenPower for Elements 2 heavily over the last few years. I just now bought Elements 3 and your new updated book (and tools).

I was very disappointed to see that you've removed Quick Mask from your new book. I used this all the time. It was probably my MOST used tool from your set. What happened to it? I realize that Elements 3 has a selection brush. Version 2 did as well. But it's not the same. With the selection brush mask mode, you cannot operate on the MASK, only on the underlying picture. At least that's my experience, maybe I missed something. Quite often with your HPFE2 Quick Mask I would make a hard selection (no feather), then bounce to Quick Mask, run a blur ON THE MASK NOT THE PICTURE BENEATH IT, and then bounce back to normal selection mode. You can actually SEE the feather your are applying via this method. Other filters can be run on the Quick Mask as well.

Also missing AFAIK is the ability to play back actions. I had made a few that I used often with the old demo version of Photoshop 6. But now you no longer support playback of actions.

I have really liked HPFE in the past, but to be honest, I am very disappointed now. Had I known I'd be paying for basically the same book as before, with critical tools (for me) now missing, I doubt I would have paid more money to make a step backwards. I wasn't expecting the book to contain much more info than before, but I certainly wasn't expecting to have some of the previous tools taken away.

Would you please consider adding these important tools that we used to have back into an update that those of us who've bought your books (multiple times) could download for free?

Thank you for listening.
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  #2  
Old 01-18-2005, 07:03 AM
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Richard_Lynch Richard_Lynch is offline
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Well, first, sorry you are disappointed. I will likely not agree with you on all points, but here is my side:

There IS a lot more information in the book. It has been completely worked through from beginning to end (it took 6 months!) and is over 20% longer. Some of this is in clarifying procedures, but most of the new information added has mostly to do with changes to the program — like the addition of 16-bit, RAW and the Healing tool. With 20% change, most of the book will seem similar, yes. However, many Elements 3 users will never have read the Elements 2 book...That information is valid and useful to them. updates and clarifications are very important. Starting with 100% new material would both delay publication and add a brand new source of error in honing new procedures...

Because of changes made by Adobe, some functions were changed -- some for the better, a couple for the worse. I wish I was a little bit more of a magician, but if Adobe makes some things difficult or impossible to implement...my wand works only so well. But, to clarify, Quick Mask was a FREE tool, not one included with the book. Many of the free tools were those that I had a suspicion that Adobe would remove in future releases (calculated guesses). The ability to play actions was also a FREE tool. Adobe goofed me up quite a lot by changing the implementation of menus--and it was quite enough to get in the additional tools and test them by publication time. Had I found no way to implement them, there would have been no Hidden Power 3 book, at all. The tools you have may not seem like new tools as several were included with the free set for the last version...currently there are no free tools--though I hope to be releasing some over the next few months.

One operative here is the word 'free'. While I enjoy doing this stuff, the free tools are...free. i wish I had all the time in the world, but like everyone else, mine is limited. I spend many hours a week freely giving away answers to questions, and trying to help people with elements and image editing. That free time -- given away -- seems to only get requests for more. I have a free newsletter, free information on my website (will be updated this week), and I work a regular job to support my habit of giving it away.

All that said, a fairly versatile work-around for quick mask...it isn't the same, no...

1) create a new layer at the top of the layer stack.
2) change the foreground color to red.
3) change the opacity of the layer to 50%
4) paint in the layer with whatever brush you'd like, use selection and fill, etc...it will look quite like a Quick Mask.
5) convert the layer content to a selection by pressing shift+clicking on the layer in the layers palette.

While this is not Quick Mask, it offers the same opportunities and allows much flexibility. The only part of this that i can really automate is the first three steps.

As for playing actions...it is a quite different thing in Elements 3. i will be publishing a white paper describing how it works. Funny thing...last time I gave away the information and some people used it to compete with me...in other words, not only did I give it freely, but in the long run I lost customers and sales...and interest.

One great value for Elements 3 users is that the 60 or so tools included with the book work in Elements 3...you don't have these otherwise. I sell individual tools (Mend and Dynamic Image for example) for about $10 each. If you consider that, the tools alone would cost about $600...not bad for a book you can get for under $30.

So, I am very sorry that you seem disappointed. i do what i can. Yours is the first complaint that i have heard. i am always disappointed to hear those.

PS -- I don't mean to sound flip or anything here, I just want you to be happy. if you do not feel you have gotten the value you deserve from the book, please return it to the seller. But do feel free to continue to request tools and techniques, and i'll see what i can come up with as I have time.

Last edited by Richard_Lynch; 01-18-2005 at 08:26 AM.
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  #3  
Old 01-18-2005, 10:15 AM
haertig haertig is offline
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Thanks for the reply Richard.

I understand your side and see how you must feel. I am sorry that others have taken advantage of your work and gone into competition with you. I did not know that. That could really drain the passion from your endeavors. And please do not feel I am disappointed in your updated book. The book itself is exactly what I was expecting. After all, it's an update, not a completely new project. It's the missing tools that I am disappointed with. If Abode pulled the rug out from under you then there's nothing much you can do. It's a disappointment, but not one that you caused. I imagine Abode would like nothing more than to sink your ship. How many other potential Photoshop buyers (like me) made the decision to stick with the cheaper Elements and HPFE instead of buying the much more expensive full Photoshop? I can't imagine that Adobe really likes HPFE very much.

Also, unfortunately I did not pick up on the distinction between tools that were "new tools for readers" (e.g., HPA2) and tools that were "free". At least I think I remember that with HPA2 that you had to have previously bought and installed your tools for the HPA2 update to work. I erroneously carried that thought forward and didn't notice your subsequent "free tool" distinction. When I read newsletter #12 where you said "All of the tools have been adapted, including Curves, Color Balance, CMYK, Channels, etc." I guess I did not read closely enough to truely understand what you were intending. My error, and I guess I am more disappointed in myself for not giving that statement a critical once-over before jumping to conclusions. I suppose if I had closely looked at the very next sentence, "Some were added from the free tool sets, like Layer Masks, Trim, Fade, and more." that I would have noticed the uncertainty of the word "some". Like I said ... my error. In apology, I will restate that I am disappointed in myself for my expectations, not you or your book.

Thanks again for all your work and what you've provided for us!
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  #4  
Old 01-18-2005, 10:38 AM
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Richard_Lynch Richard_Lynch is offline
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No need for apology...The one thing I also know is that readers read...they don't necessarily want to know about the world of publishing and all that goes on behind the scenes. It is also very hard for others to keep all my tools and stuff straight because of things I did not forsee (for example, naming the free tools third release HPAIII -- which could be mistaken for having something to do with Elements 3).

ON THE OTHER HAND...Did you try out the work-around? It isn't as nifty as two buttons, but I can, I think, make it work that way. I can also add in a few things...like allowing you to choose the color you want for the mask and allowing you to save or discard the quick mask so you can return to it later...

even Photoshop doesn't do that.

I'd need a beta tester who would get the tool free...I might charge a few dollars for it later, depending on development time. let me know.
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Old 01-18-2005, 05:12 PM
haertig haertig is offline
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I will try your suggested workaround when I have a bit of time. Maybe this evening. I see where you're going with the suggestion, but it's not immediately obvious to me how this is a workaround for what I used to do. Which is to go quickly back and forth between selection and mask. I'm not saying that it's your problem to provide me with a workaround ... just that I don't see how the workaround applies. 99% of the time I start with a selection, then bounce to mask to refine it a bit, then bounce back to a selection. I don't see how I could start with a selection in your process, or go back and forth. I see "start with a mask, filter it if you want, then convert to a selection - once". But let me play with it. Maybe my understanding will clear up after messing around for a while.

Thanks for the ideas. Too bad Adobe had to change the low-level interface on you so massively. Personally I don't like the new user interface of Elements 3 all that much either. Maybe this is just my familiarity with the old interface, but at the moment I feel like I'm learning an entirely new program. The old tools and capabilities are still there, I'm just not yet comfortable in quickly accessing them.
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Old 01-18-2005, 05:42 PM
BobJones BobJones is offline
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Hi Richard,

I purchased your Hidden Powers 2 book when it first came out and also purchased the new edition for Elements 3. I read the first book cover to cover and found the information and accompanying tools to be quite useful. Although I did buy the second book mainly to get the Elements 3 compatible tools (and to support an author whose work I truly appreciate), I read the second book cover to cover as well and picked up a few things that I had either missed or forgotton the first time around. I am not disappointed at all!

The lack of an action player capability is something I miss though, and is the main reason I have not yet uninstalled Elements 2. I read in another of your postings here that you are working on an actions player for Elements 3. Is that still on track for release this month? I'm looking forward to hearing more about the action player and reading your forthcoming white paper.

Bob
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Old 01-18-2005, 07:53 PM
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Richard_Lynch Richard_Lynch is offline
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It is less an actions player than a white paper that tells how to play actions. Pretty simple, really. There could be more of an interface, but it would require working with XML, and people had such a time with HTML...

back to the work-around...I can help you load a selection and visualize it...It won't be one step back and forth, no...but it will do what quick mask does. as the Stone song goes...you can't always get what you want...but if you try --
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Old 01-19-2005, 04:37 AM
BobJones BobJones is offline
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Thanks Richard,

I'm looking forward to the white paper.

Regarding the quick mask workaround. I tend to prefer to use a color fill adjustment layer with opacity set to 50%. This would automatically pick up any selection present when the layer is created and reflect that in the adjustment layer's mask. Because the quick mask shows the unselected area in red, you will need to inverse the selection before creating the fill layer. With the adjustment layer active, you can paint directly on the mask with black, white, and gray or apply any filters, tools or manipulations -- just you could with the quick mask. It will look and feel like quick mask. And, you can get your selection back by ctrl-clicking on the layer's "mask thumbnail" in the layers palette and then inverting the selection. After you're finished, you can delete the fill layer. The active layer will revert to the layer below which should be the original layer. Thus, you could switch back and forth at will. You don't need to keep the fill layer as you can always save the final selection if needed.

Seems to me you could implement this as two actions just as you would for the built-in quick mask (1:enter quick mask mode and 2:exit quick mask mode and convert to selection). The built-in quick mask is still there in Elements 3 but if you want to minimize the potential risk of future removal of the function this seems like a reasonable way to go about it.

Bob

Last edited by BobJones; 01-19-2005 at 04:47 AM.
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Old 01-19-2005, 09:59 AM
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Richard_Lynch Richard_Lynch is offline
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six of one, half-dozen of the other...In your solution you have to remember to paint with white and black and in mine you should paint in the original color of the mask -- however, you don't have to. The solidity of the layer will do the trick. Either can be hidden with layer opacity of the layer view toggle, either can be saved. Is there a more distinct advantage I am not clear on?
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Old 01-20-2005, 12:36 AM
BobJones BobJones is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard_Lynch
Is there a more distinct advantage I am not clear on?
As you say, these are two different paths to the same end. Neither works totally like Quick Mask. But there are differences between the techniques that some may find advantageous. (or not...)

First, my method preserves the original foreground and background color settings. Your's doesn't. When you are finished working with the fill layer, making another layer active will restore the foreground and background colors to those that were there prior to making the fill layer active. Your method permanently changes them. Not a big deal, but if you had your foreground and/or background set to custom colors it is nice to not have to reset them.

Second, regarding painting with black and white, quick mask only lets you paint with black, white, and gray. You are using grayscale when you enter quick mask. Likewise for the method I described -- when you make the fill layer active you are also using grayscale. One difference between my method and quick mask is that quick mask will change the foreground/background colors to black/white on entry whereas making the fill layer active will change the current foreground/background colors to shades of gray if they are not the default black/white. This is easy to fix, after the fill layer is made active, you can press "d" to get the default white/black". This is only necessary the first time you make the fill layer active, it will remember the settings if you make another layer active and restore them automatically when you make the fill layer active again.

Third, in quick mask, you can paint with 50% gray, for example, and get a partial selection. In your method, you have to either paint with the brush opacity changed to 50% or erase at 50% opacity to get the same partial selection -- painting (or filling) with a different shade of red at 100% won't do that (at least not with a simple ctrl-click). If the area you want to have partial selection spans a portion 100% selected and a portion 0% selected, quick mask and my method can simply draw the area using one tool, the brush. Your method would require erasing one portion and painting the other. A similar situation occurs when refining the edges of the selection. Quick mask can use the "x" key to switch the brush color back and forth to refine the mask, you would need to use the "n" and "e" keys instead. Again, no big deal but a departure from quick mask and something the user would need to keep in mind. There could be a potential problem with your method here as I suspect more users will try to change the brush color than will change the tool opacity. Especially as many will jump right in and try to use the tool without reading or understanding any accompanying documentation.

I think the ability of my method to automatically pick up the selection is an advantage (but as you say, your action could add that). But, there is a downside. Because of the differences in how quick mask displays the mask and how PSE always creates a reveal all mask in adjustment layers, with a selection present you'll get what you expect to see but if a selection is not present, you'll get a starting screen of red instead of quick mask's clear because of the reveal all mask (your method is closer to quick mask's appearance in this respect). Also, the roles of black and white will be reversed. No big deal, the "x" key will handle that fine and, in practice, I find I generally don't have to think much about it -- it's immediately obvious and easily correctable. With both advantages and disadvantages, I'll call this one a wash.


Either method will work, but both have their quirks. I don't know whether or not you would consider any of these differences a "distinct advantage", that's kind of up to you. While I don't feel either method is particularly better or worse than the other, for my accustomed working habits, my method feels more comfortable to me. I can't speak for anyone else.
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