Often enough, we get asked what sort of advantage Palette buttons offer, especially compared to our other modules. Let's face it – sliders and dials get all the love, while buttons are often brushed aside like licorice jellybeans, the Prequels, or Radiohead's first album.
And while I respect everyone's desires and workflow – we designed Palette to be endlessly customizable, after all – I tell nearly everyone the same thing: just try the buttons. It's no accident that even our Starter kit has two of them.
Here are a few ways they can earn their rightful place in your kit:
For Palette Profile Switching
How do you keep every control you need at your fingertips when desk space is a precious and finite commodity? Enter Profile Switching: the ability to create multiple profiles for a single app and use Palette buttons to switch between them with ease. Let’s use Lightroom as an example – here’s my workflow, with each step having its own corresponding profile.
Palette is incredibly useful for culling and triage. I use a button to toggle between “pick” and “reject” (we’ll dive deeper in Part 2 to how buttons are practically made for culling) and three dials to move between photos, zoom in/out (sharp focus is key), and to select a star rating.
This step is all about getting overall colour and tonality reined in while staying consistent image-to-image. Sliders and dials cover the basics – white balance, exposure, contrast, highlights, and shadows. By using a button to either cycle through custom presets OR to paste develop settings from the previous image, this keeps a consistent look throughout.
I’m a bit nitpicky, so I often make two fine-tuning profiles – one for finalizing colour and tonality (clarity, vibrance, blacks, whites) and one to please my pixel-peeping side (sharpness, noise reduction, profile corrections). On the latter profile, I often assign a button to “Edit in Photoshop” to initiate any retouching or compositing.
Bonus: Watch this video from RC showing how he uses Profile Switching in Lightroom, and submit your custom Palette Profiles
Photoshop’s incredible versatility also makes for one of its main challenges – its sheer number of tools mean that you’ll find a couple really useful ones that you’re always forgetting about. Whether they’re buried in a menu, or their keyboard shortcut requires two hands to press and an eidetic memory to recall, these are perfect candidates for assigning to buttons.
Take Direct Control over Tool Selection
Do you want the Patch tool, but its shortcut (H) often brings up the Spot Healing Brush? Our integrated PS Extension allows direct selection of tools that would otherwise be hidden behind their more popular variants.
Alternatively: if you use multiple tools nested under one icon, like Healing Brush and Patch or Brush and Mixer Brush, consider adding Shift to their keyboard shortcut (Shift+H or Shift+B for the examples) when mapping to a Palette button. Now the first press will select the tool in question, and the second will cycle through all others in the same category.
Stop Forgetting Keyboard Shortcuts
Some keyboard shortcuts are near impossible to remember, let alone reach every key without two hands. Rather than put down my stylus, reach across the keyboard, and press Shift+Opt+Cmd+E, I keep my eyes on the screen and stylus on its tablet – where they should be. One button press merges all visible layers into a new top layer, great for making a non-destructive work-in-progress layer while compositing or retouching.
Some controls require a bit of input from your mouse or stylus no matter what. Let’s say you’re constantly fiddling with brush size and hardness. Map Control+Option to a button and hold it while dragging your mouse or stylus (Windows users try Shift+Alt and right-click or hold your second stylus button while dragging). Up and down varies hardness, left and right vary diameter. Our Palette App also offers the options of the Hand tool and Rotate tool for using Palette to move your canvas.
Coming up next week: Using Palette buttons creatively with Lightroom, Premiere Pro, and Capture One Pro.
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