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Give your photos that professional look with just a couple of clicks.

Software Review – Adobe Photoshop Plug-in PhotoTools 1.0 Professional Edition From onOne Software

PhotoTools 1.0 Professional Edition is a brand new product from onOne Software in collaboration with Photoshop Hall-of-Fame member and instructor Jack Davis and renown professional photographer and Photoshop instructor Kevin Kubota. PhotoTools 1.0 Professional Edition contains over 250; 150 in the Standard Edition, photographic effects that can give your images that little extra.

PhotoTools 1.0 requires you to have Windows running XP SP2 or Vista or Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later. You will need Photoshop CS2 (v9.0.2), CS3. Also you must have at least 512MB of RAM and 100 MB of hard-disk space. You will also need an internet connection and Flash 9 Player, an OpenGL compatible video card with 128 MB VRAM at 1024×768 or higher, and Adobe Acrobat 6 Reader or higher. Installation is very easy and is all automatic. Note: Because this is an automation plug-in for Photoshop, it will not work with other applications that use Photoshop plug-ins, including previous versions of the above listed Photoshop, and Photoshop Elements.

What is an automation plug-in? It is a program that installs within Photoshop and can only be used from within Photoshop. It automates the processing of actions that would normally take several steps to complete. It is not a standalone application. To use it you load your photo and then from the onOne Menu (there are several ways to PhotoTools) select PhotoTools. You will then be presented with a screen similar to the one below.

Image courtesy T. Michael TestiPhotoTools 1.0 supports 8 or 16-bit RBG files that can be opened by Photoshop. This includes JPEG, PSD, TIFF, and Raw files from any supported Digital Cameras. If you work with Grayscale or CMYK you will need to convert them to RGB before using PhotoTools.

The library contains all of the effects that you have access to in PhotoTools. The effects are divided into categories for easier location. The version of PhotoTools that you have will determine the number of effects available. The Professional Edition has an additional 50 Wow effects from Jack Davis and 50 effects from Kevin Kubota beyond what the Standard Edition contains.

The PhotoTools interface contains a preview screen showing how the original looks compared to the photo with the effect applied. There are several ways to preview your image. Side by side; right and left, or top and bottom, split; where half the image is before and half the image is after; this can be right and left, or top and bottom as well or you can just see the after image.

You also have the ability to stack your effects as well. Just like adding filters on a camera, you can add effects to the stack. Here they work like Layers within Photoshop files. You can control how much each effect blends with the effect below by using a Fade slider. Once you have added the effects to the stack and have the preview that you desire, you simply press the Apply button in the bottom right corner and your results will be applied to a new layer in Photoshop. If you need to apply the effects to the existing layer, you can also change the settings to make this work.

There is also a Description Inspector that can be used to preview the type of effect that you have selected that also contains useful information about the effect. It displays the effect name, category, creator, and a brief description of the selected effect. It also shows a thumbnail of a before and after example of the effect. One note, sometimes you cannot always see the effect in the thumbnail, but the inspector will let you know.

By stacking multiple effects together you can create unique effects that you may want to use again in the future. By saving them as a preset, you can not only use the effects over and over, but you can also share them with other users of PhotoTools as well.

You also have masking options. Located in the tool bar, you can add a Layer Mask to the layer that PhotoTools creates when it returns its results to Photoshop. By painting with black, you can selectively blend the PhotoTools results with the layer below it.

Beyond the effects that PhotoTools has, it also adds a batch processor to your workflow. This way you can apply an entire stack of effects to a group of images at the same time, and even create child documents from them in different sizes and formats. The batch image processor also allows you to add visual watermarks to your batch processed files as well.

I find that PhotoTools 1.0 is really easy to use and will be a useful part of my workflow. It runs a tad bit slow on startup, and sometimes when applying the actions there is a bit of lag, but it is incredibly fast compared to trying to perform these changes by hand. It will take time to understand just exactly what all the effects do, and just what will work in what situation; but I consider having those kind of options a good thing as well.

I also find that PhotoTools 1.0 is a powerful tool that gives you the freedom to present your best images. It will allow you to give your photos that professional look with just a couple of clicks. I know that this will remain in my toolbox for a long time to come.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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