ColorStyler features four tools which are located at the top right corner of the preview. These tools enable you to perform various preview-related tasks.
The hand tool is the primary tool for scrolling the image in the preview. To do that click the left mouse button over the preview, hold it down and move the mouse. During scrolling the original image is shown. Once the preferred part of the image shows up you can release the mouse button, which recalculates the effect on the newly visible image section. If one of the other tools is active, you can still scroll the image in the preview by using the right mouse button. You can also use the hand tool to click on the preview in order to reveal the original image. Double click the hand icon to fit the whole image into the preview.
Normally you use an eyedropper tool to select a color or brightness value from the image. ColorStyler's eyedropper tool uses a two-pass approach. Firstly you click on a tone or color in the preview and then you move the mouse over the preview (while keeping the left mouse button pressed down) to adjust the slider value that corresponds to the chosen tone or color.
The "Main - Tone" eyedropper option in action: Clicking on a middle gray image area creates a new curve point and dragging up or down (with pressed down mouse button) moves it.
The "Select - Brightness" eyedropper option in action: Clicking on a blue image area and dragging left or right (with pressed down mouse button) changes the Blue slider.
So the first step is to click on an image area for which you want to change an effect setting. But do not release the left mouse button after clicking! You have to keep it pressed down and move the mouse left and right or up and down. While you move the mouse you are changing the value of a slider or curve point (which was automatically selected by ColorStyler) as if you had clicked it directly.
To see the result of your adjustment while dragging either activate the Instant Preview check box on the Prefs tab sheet beforehand or hold down the Shift key. Holding down the Shift key while dragging makes the preview update with each mouse movement. Alternatively you can also do multiple short click and drag movements to make the preview update between them.
The slider or curve point, which you change while dragging, is selected depending on the mode of the eye dropper tool and the clicked pixels in the preview. To select one of these modes hold down the mouse button over the eyedropper icon a bit longer than usual. Then a menu for choosing one of these four modes is displayed. You can see which mode is currently used from the bullet mark on this menu. Click on another menu item to activate that mode. You can also click on one of the eyedropper icons on a tab sheet to switch to the appropriate mode.
The eyedropper tool features four groups of modes: The Main options adjust the curves on the Main tab sheet by selecting an existing curve point or by creating a new one. The Select options choose one of the color sliders of the Select tab sheet. The "FX2 - Glow" option adjusts the Glow effect by setting a value for the Tone slider and changing the Limit slider while you move the mouse. The Mask options work similarly by choosing a brightness, color and saturation value and adjusting its range.
The cross tool allows you to set a point in the preview, which is used as a coordinate for various gradient based effects. You can choose which effect the cross tool influences from the menu that appears when you hold down the mouse button over the cross icon. You can also click the cross icon on the appropriate tab sheet to activate the appropriate cross tool option.
With the cross tool activated click on the preview at the point where you want the center of the linear or circular gradient to be. You can also drag over the preview to scroll the center of the gradient. To move the gradient center to the center of the image again double click the cross icon.
The brush tool lets you draw brush strokes on the preview for defining which image areas will be affected by ColorStyler and which only partially or not at all. To activate the brush tool click on the brush icon above the preview. In this case the tab sheet with the brush controls will show up on the right-hand side. You can also click on one of the two icons on the Brush sub tab of the Mask tab sheet.
The brush tool has two modes called brush and eraser. The eraser mode is activated by default and lets you remove the ColorStyler effect with brush strokes on the preview. The brush mode is used for reapplying the effect. You can switch between both modes by holding down the mouse button over the brush icon above the preview or you can click the brush or eraser icon on the Brush sub tab of the Mask tab sheet. Alternatively press the X key to switch between eraser and brush mode.
All brush strokes are stored in a grayscaled image, the brush mask, which is used to remove the ColorStyler effect from certain image areas. This is simular to a layer mask in Photoshop. The M button displays the brush mask and makes it easier to see the brush strokes that you have drawn. The Clear button on the Mask tab sheet clears the brush mask thus removing all brush strokes.
At the top left corner of the tab sheet there is an arrow down button, which displayed a menu when clicked. The None menu item resets the settings of all controls on the tab sheet to their default values. In the Standalone and Lightroom versions of ColorStyler you can find two additional menu items: The Open Brush Mask menu item displays a file dialog for selecting an image that will be used as the brush mask. The Save Brush Mask menu item lets you save the current brush mask as a JPEG, TIFF, PNG or PSD image file, which can later be opened with the Open Brush Mask menu item. To save the brush mask in the Plugin version of ColorStyler for later use, activate the M button and click the OK button, which will render the brush mask to the image. You can then use it as a layer mask, but cannot import it back into ColorStyler.
The Intensity slider lets you weaken all brush strokes. At the default value of 100 the brush strokes is applied with full intensity. At a value of zero the brush strokes are not applied at all. The Invert check box applies an inverted version of the brush strokes. This means that areas where the effect was applied before will have the effect removed and vice versa.
Whereas the Intensity slider can also be adjusted after brush strokes have been performed, the Tool Settings sliders define how the brush behaves when you draw with it on the preview. So you always have to set these sliders before you use the brush tool. The Size slider defines the size of the brush tip. Smaller values draw finer lines and larger values cover larger image areas more quickly. The Hardness slider controls the edge hardness of the brush tip. Smaller values produce brush strokes with a softer edge, which results in a brush mask with softer transitions between image areas.
The controls of the Last Brush Stroke group enable you to reduce the opacity of the brush strokes as well as mask them. Masking means that you can brush over an image object more generously and ColorStyler only applies the brush stroke to the image object only. This can save you some time and work, because you do not need to apply many small detailed brush strokes to mask out a certain image object.
The brush masking feature analyzes pixels as you use the brush, attempting to ensure that the brush strokes do not affect pixels that have a different color or brightness than the image object. The color of the targeted image object is selected with the small center circle of the brush cursor when you start drawing the brush stroke. So when you click with the brush tool on the preview, the color in the center circle is assigned to the color box at the left-hand side of the Mask bar. This color is used for masking the brush stroke. For example, if you want to mask a red image object make sure that the center circle of the brush cursor is placed over red pixels before you press down the mouse button and start drawing. You can still adjust the mask color after you finished the brush stroke by clicking on the color box. Adjusting the color also helps refining the masking of the brush stroke.
You can also change the other masking and opacity settings after you performed a brush stroke. If you want to use other settings for the next brush stroke (and do not want to do that after the next brush stroke), you can press the Apply button to apply the current settings and lock the last brush stroke. You can then change the settings for the next brush stroke without modifying the last one. If you do not like your last brush stroke, you can remove it with the Remove button.
The Mask bar allows to switch off masking and draw normal brush strokes by clicking on its "Off" item. The +1 to +5 items represent different masking options. +1 produces the weakest masking and +5 the strongest, but all of them also produce different types of transitions between the image object and the background. So depending on contrast between the image object and background as well as the precision of your brush strokes, either one of the five options may produce better results in one cases or the other.
If you want to fine tune the masking even more, click on the check box at the right-hand side of the Mask bar. This reveals two sliders: The Amount slider controls the intensity of the masking. The Tolerance slider increases the contrast between the image object and background thus amplifying the masking. Sometimes a higher and sometimes a lower value of this slider will produce a better result.
The Opacity slider reduces the opacity of the brush strokes and lets you modify the intensity of the ColorStyler effect on a certain image area. A slider value of 100 therefor either removes or applies the effect 100%, whereas a slider value of 50 either removes or reapplies it at 50% intensity.
Clicking the split view tool automatically activates the split view option that is displayed below the preview. When the split view tool is active, you can click anywhere on the preview to change the position of the split divider. If the Multi check box is activated, you can click on the preview to display a different part of the image in the split areas. Also see the Split View page.
If you want to restart with the default settings or just started processing on a new image, it is a good idea to click on the Reset button. The Reset button performs the action that was last chosen on its menu. This menu appears when you click on the arrow button at the right of the Reset button.
Clicking the small arrow button at the right of the Reset button displays a menu with various reset options. Default Settings resets all controls to their default values. Previous Settings loads the settings that were used for processing the previous image. Own Defaults opens the preset file that was either already specified, or if this is not the case, will prompt you for one. You can choose a new preset file with the "Define Own Defaults" menu item.
The Logged Settings
item automatically opens the settings that were previously applied to the same
image. This option looks into the folder at
Windows 2000/XP: c:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\ThePluginSite\ColorStyler\logfiles\
Windows Vista/7: c:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\ThePluginSite\ColorStyler\logfiles\
MacOS X: /Library/Application Support/PhotoWiz/ColorStyler/logfiles/
to see if a log file with the same name as the file name exists. If such a log file is found, it is immediately applied. If no such file exists or if the host application does not support this feature, nothing happens. Log files with effect settings are saved when you apply ColorStyler to an image provided that the Log Settings check box is activated on the Prefs tab sheet.
The Define Own Defaults item lets you choose a new preset file that will be used with the Own Defaults function.