We announce a public beta of panel version 4, with several new features, two new actions, and support for Photoshop CC2014. The first beta was posted in October 2014; version 4.0.5 went up on December 11, 2014, and was declared the official version, replacing version 3.3, on January 1, 2015. Click here to download it (universal installer for CS6/CC/CC2014, Mac/Windows). Users of Photoshop CS5 must download a different installer; see link at bottom of this blog post. The panel is not compatible with Photoshop CS4 and previous.The panel now includes three “Hammer” actions: the Bigger Hammer, which has been around for a long time, and the new Lesser and Velvet Hammers. The three give quite an array of tools to handle images needing extra pop in their lighter areas. The Velvet Hammer has proven particularly useful in portraits.
The Sharpen action, renamed Sharpen 2015, allows two new options. One prevents sharpening of blue objects, useful for those whose work commonly involves skies. The second, called Soften Shadows, does what it says. The two come as layers, so it’s easy to limit their effects to certain areas.
The user has to implement these new options, as we wanted the revised action’s default behavior to resemble that of previous versions. They can be activated either on a case-by-case basis or as permanent preferences, by Option-clicking the action in the panel or by going to the Preferences sub-panel in the upper right corner of the main panel.
Personally I have used Exclude Blues as my default throughout the beta period. The documentation recommends not implementing Soften Shadows as default because it sometimes is counterproductive, but I’ve changed my mind. It’s easy enough to toggle the Soften Shadows layer on and off to find out whether it’s friend or foe, so I now have made it my preference. I find Soften Shadows particularly useful in dealing with dark-haired subjects.
The PPW panel has always had lengthy documentation, not just of every action, but of the workflow as a whole, plus a generalized user manual and a version history that gives an idea of how complex a product it is. This PDF documentation is fully up to date in the beta version; to access it choose HELP in the top right corner of the main panel.
If you have a problem installing, or if certain features of the panel aren’t working for you, please go to our panel troubleshooting page so that you can give us the information we need in your report.
The new panel maintains the PPW ability to work very rapidly when time is a major constraint, while adding several tempting new options when time permits experimentation. Giuliana Abbiati did the complicated scripting and development, and deserves all of our thanks.