TK9 Plug in for Photoshop coming soon

Tony is a member and occasional poster here, but probably won’t toot his own horn to announce he has upgraded the panel again. Like he’d have the time! So I’m doing it so that everyone knows that the update is imminent and I, for one, am anxiously awaiting it and the tutorials from Sean Bagshaw (another NPN guy).

And Tony’s sneak-peek video about the new version -

At the end of 2020 I decided that I should add Photoshop to my editing toolbox and it was largely because I saw my workshop leader use the free plug in to do a magic luminosity mask on one of my photos. Hooked. But damn, the learning curve for Ps is very high. Rather than trying to learn everything the traditional way, I got the basics under me and then bought the TK8 panels and learned those. While I’m no expert, the plug in has been a big help with making complex actions and techniques faster, more accessible and easier to understand. So thanks for all your hard work Tony and I’m not really going to check my email every five minutes on Monday. :wink:


What a great note, Kris. Thanks for bringing this up. I will definitely keep my eyes open for this.

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Kris, I have a question about the TK panels. I am almost entirely a Lightroom user. I generally only go to Photoshop for things like object removal or other retouching that I think a pixel editor does better than a non-destructive editor.

I understand why luminosity masks can be very helpful, but over the last couple of years Lightroom has really upped its masking game, and it does have luminosity masks. So what do the TK panels give you that you don’t get in Lightroom?

I’m really interested, and trying to figure out if I missing out by not using TK8 (or 9).


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No problem, @WillR . Yes masking, and especially controlling masks/selections, is better in Lr now than it was 2 1/2 years ago when I added Ps to my routine. If it was as good as it is now I might not have gone this route, but now that I have (while still using the Lr tools) I still value what Ps brings to the table.

For masking I can sum it up in a word - precision.

Photoshop works at the pixel level for so many tasks that the control is really phenomenal. Tonal separation as well as color separation can be done with much more fine tuning once you know how. So when I want to really finesse an adjustment I can use a mask or a series of masks to target just where I want it to go. Using various opacities and layer types also gives me more options about how things look and how one layer effects another.

And speaking of layers, I often will combine layers that are either different photos all together or the same exact photo, but with different noise reduction and/or sharpening applied. But you didn’t ask about layers.

Masking - not only are there luminosity and color masks, but there edge masks (something I need to use more) and hue/saturation masks that help target things even more precisely. Once I began to really understand what luminosity masks did and how best to make, modify and control them, new horizons opened up in just how I not only processed, but took certain images.

Not every photo needs it, but once you become familiar with the TK panels it becomes easier and easier just to drop a relatively unprocessed photo from Lr and take it to the finished product there.

Phew. Sorry to be so long winded. Hope that helps. Both Sean Bagshaw and Dave Kelly are TK masters and their You Tube channels may have some starting points for new users.


@WillR’s question sort of hits home with me, too. I’ve been using PS since v4 (1996) and LR since it came out (2007). I’m so comfortable with each one (and they way they interface) that I look at the TK panels (Combo and Cx) and scratch my head, as they seem to be different (and therefore confusing) ways of doing what I can already do, but I do use and love the MultiMask. It would be nice to find some information about what I can do with the panels that I can’t do without them. I do have them and will continue to upgrade, thinking someday I’ll get into it more.

I confess I haven’t found time to check out the videos, and really need to. I’m already behind in the new features of LR and PS and need to lock myself in a dark room and dive back into astro processing before I forget the little I already know.


I hear you @Diane_Miller . Experienced Ps users seem to have a similar reaction to this kind of plug in since you have so much knowledge about how to accomplish the same things without one. That’s to be expected and maybe you don’t need to add one except to make luminosity and other precision masks easier to make, adjust and control. What I think Tony originally wanted to was to make complex tasks easier (with one click sometimes) and to make tools more organized. Things have expanded and now we have more things added that might not be as hard to do natively, but make sense for additions to the panels.

So I guess each person has to evaluate her own process and workflow to see if some time could be saved by learning the panel’s functions. But there it is - time - which is the more valuable for you, doing things the way you know how which might take longer each time you do it, or taking time to learn a faster way that will only pay down the road?

If you have the TK8 panel and Sean’s tutorial video, I suggest having a look at the sections he does about the actions panel versus the masking panel. I think each one is only about 10 minutes long and so biting off one or two a day could be feasible. Then you could slowly get a grip on what else the CX/Combo panel does and see if anything will be helpful.

For me as a latecomer to Ps it was the right learning curve to tackle. I watched Sean’s video guide and also bought his Luminosity Master Class tutorials and some others. Dave Kelly’s TK Fridays have been a huge part of my learning as well. So yeah, I can’t make a luminosity mask from scratch and it doesn’t keep me up at night. Not trying to sell it, you are a far more experienced Ps user than I am and so might not need it for as much as I do.

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Yay, I ran across this on YouTube the other day and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been using Tony’s panel for years now - I think I started with version 3 or 4… Anyway, what I enjoy most about it is that a lot of what I do in PS has been reduced to a small panel on the side of my screen and I can access almost all of the tools I use quickly with a single click from the same panel and I’m not even talking about the ease with with I can create masks - luminosity or other that I use on about 95% of my images.

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This is my opinion on the new LR masking - keep in mind that I am doing mostly B&W landscapes (I think I have only managed to finish 3 or 4 color images total that I felt were not forced fantasies to me in the end.) This means that I pretty much only use dodging and burning through luminance masks, and then in B&W.

LR makes great default area masks, though some need to be cleaned up on the edges for accuracy. They are great for making “global” adjustments to each masked area. I particularly like being able to adjust curves for each masked area.

I was initially excited about the intersection masking but have found it to be limited in use to the default masks - If you create a mask using the object tool or anything not pre-named - sky, subject, background, people - you can’t intersect them.

The luminance mask is also a disappointment. I find it applies too broad a range by default when picking a value, and even when adjusting the selections slider by hand it doesn’t seem to cut as sharp as I would like, thus loosing the ability to apply contrast to finely detailed areas. Lumenzia, which I use, and I am pretty sure TKn will allow one to pick a default tonal zone and then view the curve or the levels selected and further modify them, you can therefore use the same mask for burning darker tones and then dodge lighter tones that are exactly adjacent to each other within that tonal zone, as well as in the image. Think of sharply defining the tones within single tonal zone like zone 6.

That is how I managed to create contrasts in adjacent area that LR could not, see the image here for a sample: Self-Introduction
So, in the end I don’t think LR will eliminate the need for third party luminance masks. (edit. eliminate not iluminate)

Kris, (and all)

Thanks for the info. I’ll give TK9 a try. Honestly, the price is so reasonable that there is no reason not to.

I’ll still probably stick with LR for most things, but I do find that LR can just get incredibly slow if I have a lot of masks. Maybe PS plus TK9 will be better.


It is pretty moderately priced and getting the button-by-button video guide is a good idea, too. Sean is an excellent teacher. You can also check out Dave Kelly’s You Tube Channel, I started a thread about it here -

Any of his full edits will take you from Lr to Ps where he finishes the processing.

And right now, they are offering 25% off. It’s a good deal made even better.

Thanks for starting this thread @_Kris! Sorry, I didn’t see it sooner. NPN played an important role in the beginning of TK actions. It all started when @Tony_Kuyper published his now classic luminosity mask article here on NPN back in 2006. Thanks also for providing better answers to questions than probably either Tony or I could do. :joy: I’ll second you on the common question pertaining to the purpose/advantages of the Combo module (and now the My Actions and Export modules as well). Ps is powerful, but the menu-driven interface is basically a holdover from the early 1990s. Instead of searching through menus and poorly designed panels (I’m looking at you, Actions panel), Tony’s modules allow you to stay out in the workspace and keep your creative flow going. Adobe did get it right with the Ps Tools Palette back then, however. Imagine if all the tools were only available inside menus as well. With Lightroom, they decided to give everything a more graphic interface and rely less on menus. The TK plugin brings this sort of design logic into Photoshop. If interested, I posted this video on YouTube the other day that points out some of my favorite things in TK that enable my Ps workflow to be more “flowy”. I am always happy to answer questions as well.

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Like you, Will, I do all my edits i LR and occasionally go to PS for the same things you mentioned. I have been watching Dave Kelly’s videos on the TK panel – there are over 100 of them! Although I’m finding the videos interesting and helpful, to me it still comes down to a learning curve. At least with the TK panel, the graphic interface is way superior to the hidden PS menus.

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Thanks @Sean_Bagshaw for the link; I will check it out. I’m always eager to update techniques and learn new stuff so will certainly do the update.

One thing I’m confused about — in another Discussion recently there were concerns about some aspect of the new TK9 that didn’t work “offline”. But I must really be missing something. I use LR and PS CC, downloaded to the computer. I’m usually connected to the internet (always when I’m home) but those programs are running locally. As far as I know the only connectivity involved is in the notification of updates. That’s different for the TK plug-ins?h

I should also post this in that discussion but I’m in the middle of happy hour and trying to type on an iPad while fighting for my share of pickled herring without spilling my drink.

Hi Diane! There isn’t anything specific to TK9 that might cause it not to work offline. However, a few users, including myself, have experienced all of our Creative Cloud plugins (not just TK) disappearing when not connected to the internet. This is an Adobe glitch of some sort. Photoshop needs to reconnect to the internet every 90 days to remain active offline, but if Ps is active offline the plugins should be as well. I haven’t heard from Tony if Adobe has addressed this yet. For me it only happened once with TK8. So far I have not heard of this happening with TK9, but it’s only been out a week. Nice effort during happy hour! Now I’m off to happy hour myself :smiley:

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