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actions for elements 4

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Old 04-19-2006, 08:22 PM
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bart_hickman bart_hickman is offline
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Originally Posted by Richard_Lynch
In Elements 3 you get real curves, but they are monochromatic. The problem is solved, however, because you can separate channels out using my RGB separations tools. In Elements 4, the curves are presets: real curves, but uneditable. I do have an editable solution for Elements 4, but users will be applying Gradient Maps (you achieve the same results as with curves).
Hi Richard. Thanks for the reply. You can disregard my similar question over at dpreview. I assume you combine the gradient map with the RGB splitter tool to achieve the RGB curve effect. I use similar scripts in both Paintshop Pro and Photoshop when I need to do arcane adjustments, manual edits, or masking to the individual channels. For me it's an issue of keeping the number of layers productively organized when I have 20 or 30 of them.

Channel Mixer is handled in Elements 4 using a layer setup that is automated by my tools. There are distinct advantages to this in that the flexibility is far greater, and you will find them far more intuitive after just a few tries. It isn't dialog based, no, but that is not a disadvantage. Elements 3 has Channel Mixer.
That's pretty cool. Again, I find the channel mixer inherently intuitive, but I might still check out your book since I like fiddling with new tools.

By 'raster masks' do you mean path-based masking? If so, there are ways of doing this, but you will not do it the same way that you do in Photoshop.
I just meant a mask on a raster layer. I've since figured out that you could do it using a clipping mask, but IMO that's a huge pain because you can't drag a clipping mask around in the layer stack without causing it to come unglued.

Channel based masks is also important--I assumed Elements could do that. As you'll hear over and over, it's not a capability issue for me, it's a productivity issue. For example, Paintshop Pro also does path-based/vector-based masks, but it's somewhat more convoluted--ie takes a bit more time. I also like the ability to convert the selection back to a vector. Big time saver in some situations. Photoshop is very good at nearly instant and fluid transitions between masks, selections, paths, and alpha channels.

I have not been able to provide layer groups. I would be interested in what you are trying to do with them, however.
Whew! Where do I start?

Like most features, layer groups are not *necessary*, but they are a big productivity enhancer (which is important to me even though I only do this stuff as a hobby.) For example, if I'm doing a mask-based object extraction, there are a few stages. I need a mask to remove the old background. I might need a second mask to decontaminate the old background from the fringes of the foreground. Then you must convert the alpha channel you've created into an actual mask and remove the old background and add a new one. And of course changing a background often involves adjustments to the foreground to make it look natural. Each of these steps involves multiple layers and I want to keep all of the adjustment layer history of what I was working on so I can iterate if needed, so I keep each set of layers in groups. In this particular situation, I even have nested groups where I not only have masks on a layer in the group but I also have a mask on the group itself (sort of a mask on mask). Then that group is combined with a new background and all of that goes into another group. So now I can turn on and off specific segments of the process very quickly to do A-B comparisons and I can collapse groups I'm not currently working on. And, of course, you can drag an entire group up and down in the stackup without having it fall apart like a clipping mask does.

There's also the situation where I want to, say, make an image brighter and warmer. So that might require two adjustment layers. I can dump those into a group and label it "brighter and warmer". I can make another one called "darker and cooler". In this case, you set the blend mode of the groups to pass through and now I can more quickly turn them on or off.

Yet another really handy one is an action I have (script in PSP) that splits the image into channels (either HSL or RGB). It creates a group called "RGB" and in that group are three channel mixers and three greyscale images of the three channels (the channel mixers convert the greyscale channels into color channels which are then combined into the composite--it's probably similar to your tool.) Then I can apply adjustment layers of whatever sort to the channels and see the result interactively. This is more interactive than the channel palette and I can just collapse the RGB group to get it out of the way and shut it off with one click if I want to remove the effect. If I couldn't dump it all into a group, it would present somewhat of a mess since it involves 6 layers (3 layers if I do colored channels instead of greyscale.) Of course if one just wants to take a quick look at the RGB channels, the channel palette is much more productive and uses no extra memory. I like having both options for this reason--that's one of the reasons I moved from PSP to PS. In PSP, I HAVE to use the channel splitter script which is overkill in many cases where the channel palette would have sufficed.

I think it is wrong to look at Elements and wonder if it is exactly the same as Photoshop. It is a different program and may require that you work differently in it. However, I do believe you can achieve the same results, and that you can learn a lot by working in Elements about fundamentals. I can say that developing my techniques for Elements has actually changed the way that I work in Photoshop for the better. I can also say that with my tools, my results are the same in either.
I hear you and I agree with you about the same results--at least for the vast majority of photo retouching situations. For me it's not about what I can do. It's about how fast and productively I can do it without getting lost in a tall layer stack. If I just cared about raw capability for a given price, I'd stick with Paintshop Pro which, IMO, is the hands-down most bang for the buck out there. I have some specific needs (and wants) that drove me to get Photoshop (I had version 4.0 from a decade ago, so I only had to pay the $150 upgrade.)

Photoshop has some other really cool newer features that I've really learned to love (don't need 'em, just want 'em). The vanishing point tool seriously useful--saves a lot of time. Also the extract filter and smart objects save a lot of time versus methods that don't use them. If you tell me you can do those in elements, then I'll truly be amazed!!!

I didn't even mention having a repository for many alpha channels (channel palette again)--another thing I really make a lot of use of (used it in PSP a lot too.)

In any case, you have me interested by the "learn a lot" part and the part about helping me work in Photoshop better.

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