Rays 2

Rays 2

Digital Film Tools Rays 2.x for Photoshop… who knew? Brilliant.

Original as a render from Poser, with an edge_blend node already ‘getting the look half-way’.

I regularly use the main Digital Film Tools, but had forgotten that in 2014 they also produced this excellent and quick plugin which also does the ‘light spillover’. You can of course do a basic Rays effect with DFT itself, but Rays 2 was its own product and offers much more control. To the extent that it came with a 134-page manual, even.

The last version appears to have been 2.1.2.2. Rays appears to have got lost in the shuffle, as the DFT company was sold and re-sold and sold again.

See also the free plugins ‘Luce’ and Richard Rosenman’s ‘Diffuse Glow’. The latter is old and may not work, and is no longer on Rosenman’s site.

Launch Photoshop with a .BAT and pass it a script

Launch Photoshop with a .BAT and pass it a script

Here’s how to have a Windows .BAT file launch your photoshop.exe and also pass it a Photoshop-native script to load up and run…

@echo off
START C:\"Program Files"\Adobe\"Adobe Photoshop CC 2018"\Photoshop.exe "%CD%\do_script.js"

%CD% means current directory, telling the .BAT file to expect to find do_script.js in the same directory as itself. The spaces in the file path are taken care of by being “enclosed in quotes”.

Such a thing can save a lot of fiddling about, if you often need to loading a regularly-used script.

Unfortunately Windows appears to have a general problem allowing scripts to pass parameters to an .EXE file. This means the above .BAT works fine if you just double-click on it from Windows Explorer or the Desktop. But the moment you invoke the .BAT from inside a Javascript (or even call the .BAT complied to an .EXE), then only Photoshop will launch. The command to also have Photoshop load do_script.js will be ignored.

You can however do it from a Python script, although that assumes you either have Python installed on Windows, or are in software that can natively run some Python by itself. The Python code on Windows is…

import subprocess
subprocess.call([r'C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CC 2018\Photoshop.exe',r'C:\do_script.jsx'])

r is a Windows thing which enables the use of normal slashes in the file paths. Spaces in the file path are here handled by ‘the full enclosure of the path’.

If you have Python 2.7 installed (it’s free) then the workaround is thus a .BAT file that looks like this…

@echo off
START c:\python27\python.exe c:\launch_Photoshop_run_script.py %*

It calls the above Python code as a .PY file. You can now have your Javascript script call this .BAT file, which calls the .PY file. This time Photoshop will launch and will automatically run your target script, just as if you had double-clicked on the .BAT from Windows Explorer.

I believe there are also ways to have a .PY file become a self-contained Windows .EXE file, but I haven’t yet looked into that.

Dashing your lineart in Photoshop

Dashing your lineart in Photoshop

How to make a solid line into a dotted-line in Photoshop, when you already have the linework?

Let’s imagine you have used a 3D model in Poser 11 to real-time render white clouds with a lineart edge and a transparency mask.

Lovely. But you also have lines that go into the clouds, and therefore cannot just use a Photoshop Style. Styles, so far as I know, only work on edges. Even when you think you have selected all the linework by colour and converted it to a Path etc. You can see the problem here…

No good. Dotting on the edges, but not on the lines that go into the clouds. What’s wanted as an end result is this…


Here’s how to do that properly, and it can be encapsulated into a one-click Photoshop Action:

1. (If you already know about Styles, just skip to Step 4). First ensure you have Styles visible in your UI Palettes (if not, it’s found at: Top menu | Window | Styles).

2. Dock the new Styles panel behind your usual layers panel. Load the default set of Photoshop dotted line .ASL styles, thus (in the screenshot here I’ve already loaded them). This will not be loaded by default…

3. In your Styles palette you now have a set of (rather difficult to see) new Style presets, which make converting lines to dotted lines one-click easy. Some Styles also remove the white of the cloud (‘unfilled’) and other leave it alone (‘filled’). These can be edited and saved as new custom presets.

You turn ‘unfilled’ / ‘filled’ on and off by this slider…

Ok, we now have Styles set up, know what they do and the panel is populated with a new set of ‘dotter’ Styles.

4. Duplicate your cloud layer, and on the duplicate go: Top Menu | Filter | Stylize | Trace Contour : Level 255. This should remove all lineart lines, while leaving the white intact.

5. Go back to the original cloud layer, and run the Knockout All White for PS action. Now you just have the pure lineart in your layer and nothing else. And, since every line is now an edge, a Style will work on all of it.

6. In your Styles palette, choose your dashed edge Style. No need to make a selection with ‘marching ants’, as we effectively just made a giant selection by knocking out all the white. Applying the Style, you should instantly see the lineart go dotted and/or dashed.

7. Now adjust the layer-stack ranking of your two cloud layers, such that the dotted line layer sits above the Trace Contour layer. If you set them up correctly in the first place, this should not be needed.

Done, now all the cloud lines are dashed. Merge down the two layers…

As you can see your dotted or dashed line from a Style is not going to be ‘vector crisp’, and if you need that sort of thing for website UI wireframes or coupon DTP you probably want some other software, or you need to wrestle with the horrid Pen tool and node-bearing ‘paths’ in Photoshop (shudder…). But the above method does the job in Photoshop, and quickly.

8. Now make the above into a one-click action that looks like this…

Alt + [ and Alt + ] are used for recording such layer-juggling Actions, to move to next and previous layers without actually recording the layer names (which could be anything).

9. Incidentally, you might think about now running your nice fully-dashed cloud through G’MIC. Note that that G’MIC will not launch in Photoshop if such a PNG layer has transparency, as here. In which case, right-click on the layer and ‘Convert to Smart Objects’ first. Then G’MIC will launch for that layer. Apparently the mighty Photoshop still cannot handle more than one area of transparency in a layer, without such a conversion being done.

Thus you may want to add ‘Convert to Smart Object’ to the end of your Action, if you plan to run G’MIC on it.

10. Fuzzy and a little faint the dashes may be. But that can be turned to advantage, if you want you an end-result that looks hand-drawn. You can crisp and ink them up automatically with a filter. For instance, here is my custom ‘Send to Moebius’ G’MIC filter at work on the above lines…

How to force subtitles on YouTube in 2021

How to force subtitles on YouTube in 2021

Here’s how to force subtitles on YouTube in 2021. First turn off any site fixer (such as uBlock Origin) that may be preventing you from reaching Settings. Then…

Useful to turn on when watching a mixed playlist, in which some videos need real-time ‘auto-translate’ of the closed captions / subtitles (which is done via a Web browser addon).

Update: sometimes it will not respect your choice though, when playing a playlist. I’m now looking for an ‘always force subtitles’ browser addon.

G’MIC ‘Paint with Brush’

G’MIC ‘Paint with Brush’

The free G’MIC .8BF Photoshop plugin has updated to 2.9.9.x and has a new adjustable DAP-like filter, “Paint with Brush”, found under the ‘Artistic’ category. So kewl that there’s a ten-minute YouTube preview for it. In German, but you get the gist just by watching it (or you turn on subtitles, in combination with a Web browser real-time add-on such as Auto Translate for YouTube).

2.9.9 also has better PNG handling and improved importing/saving of files. It definitely seems quicker and more responsive, to me.

As usual, turn on the internal Internet switch and update after install of a new version, to get your custom presets back (if they were based on experimental filters).

This where “Paint With Brush” is found for me…

And this is what the 100% output looks like on Default, from a public-domain museum photo…

Photo RAW 2022 – a $99 entry in the Sky Replacement AI race

Photo RAW 2022 – a $99 entry in the Sky Replacement AI race

ON1’s new Photo RAW 2022 will have a new feature, “Sky Swap AI” as well as an apparently new “Photoshop Plugin host capability” (it appears to have only done round-tripping before, or via Bridge?). RAW 2022 will be… “available at the end of this month for $99.99 for a lifetime license”.

Sounds good, but…

1) Does it only run on the horror-show that is Windows 10?

Well their current RAW 2021 apparently runs all the way back to Windows XP and Photoshop CS6. Though the official specs are Windows 7…

Nice. So I’m assuming RAW 2022 will support the same OS’s.

2) Do I have to import RAW camera files only?

Doesn’t look like it. The RAW 2021 instructions say… “To process JPEG or TIFF images in Camera Raw, select one or more JPEG or TIFF files in Adobe Bridge, and then choose File > Open In Camera Raw or press Ctrl+R”.

Looks good then, especially if they discount the $99 on Black Friday. Sky AI replacement without Luminar AI (Windows 10 only) or Adobe (subscription only), for $99 perpetual or less. It appears you can even run Photo RAW offline, after the initial online activation.