Read the first review to the Tonality Masks TM Panel for Photoshop, developed by Gaspare Silverii. With the Tonality Masks TM Panel you can easily create Luminosity Masks, Tonality Masks, and merge two or more exposures.
Not long ago I reviewed one of the best and most used Photoshop Panels: Raya Pro developed by Jimmy Mc Intyre.
In case you don’t know what a Photoshop Panel is, basically it’s a plugin that adds some functionalities to Photoshop and simplifies the post-production. Among the most used Panels there are those that make selections based on Luminosity. They are called Luminosity Masks. The great thing about these masks is that they let you easily merge two or more exposures and, if done properly, you won’t be able to notice it.
If it sounds complicated don’t worry, it isn’t. Using a Photoshop panel speed up the post-production and improve the quality of your pictures (if you don’t abuse it).
Few things to say before I go ahead:
- Compared to other panels, the price for the TM Panel is very low.
- This Panel is not an alternative to Raya Pro. Even though they do share similar functions (like Luminosity Masks), TM Panel is the first plugin ever that allows you to make selections based on tonality.
- The user interface of TM Panel is in English but all the tutorials are in Italian (at the moment). This might be a problem if this is the first time you use a panel. If, on the other hand, you have a bit of experience, it won’t be a problem. In any case you can contact Gaspare and he will be more than happy to reply in English.
Introduction to Tonality Masks TM Panel
As you can guess from the name, the advantage of using TM Panel is the possibility of creating masks or selections based on the tonality instead of the luminosity. This is an option I didn’t find anywhere else so far.
What’s the difference between Luminosity and Tonality? To put it short imagine that you have a sunset scene. If you make a selection based on luminosity and you select the lights, the majority of the sky will be selected. If, on the other hand, you make a selection based on Tonality you can decide to select only the cold lights in the sky or the warm lights in the sky.
The same principle can be applied to the mid-tones and the dark tones. The advantage of the Tonality Masks over the Luminosity Masks is that they are more accurate. You can select different areas of the picture even if they have a very similar luminosity. Once the selection is made, you can then create an adjustment layer.
Instaling the panel is quite straightforward but if you have any problem feel free to contact Gaspare.
This is the screenshot of all the windows of the panel opened.
As you can see, besides the Tonality Masks and Luminosity Masks there are other functions available like:
- Extractor (perfect to extract detail and contrast without increasing the digital noise)
- Remove the hot pixels (a common problem on long exposures)
- Remove the dust due to a dirty sensor
- Create the layers for the classic Dodge/Burn
- Noise reduction
- Use the Orton effect
These are just some of the functions. You can combine them to optimize pictures of the Milky Way, Still Life, Landscapes, Portraits, and pretty much every kind of picture.
In few words TM Panel gives you a series of tools that you can use to work with precision without increasing the digital noise or losing the contrast of the picture.
Tonality Masks Panel VS Raya Pro
Raya Pro and Tonality Masks Panel are not the same and they have been created to offer different functions. They do have some things in common though (like the possibility of creating Luminosity Masks) so I thought about writing a list of pros and cons of the TM Panel.
- unlike Raya Pro, with TM Panel you will be able to create masks based on the tonality. This is the first Panel ever that gives this opportunity, even though I’m pretty sure in the near future we will see this function implemented in other products
- installing the panel is very easy
- all the future updates of the TM Panel are free
- the TM Panel is very cheap
- the Panel is easy to use due to a user-friendly interface
- the Panel offers an option called Refine Mask that works in real-time. Raya Pro offers a similar function but not on its main panel, you’ll have to switch to InstaMask
- all the tutorials are in Italian
- Tonality Masks Panel doesn’t work with Lightroom and it’s supported only from Photoshop CC onward (so from 2014)
- there isn’t a trial version (but the price is so low that this is not really a problem IMHO)
- at the moment there is no option to merge two or more exposures with a single click as you can do with Raya Pro
- you have to pay to update the panel when a new version is released, even if you are an old customer (though at a discounted price)
These are some of the new features of the latest version of the plugin: TM Panel 5
- graphic revised and optimized
- panel-loading faster than version 4
- more precise in the selection of masks than the previous TM Panel
- IRIS: an advanced mask selection system
- chromatic palettes for dodge and burn
- hot pixel function
- simplified export system
Tonality Masks Panel is the ideal product for those that want to work professionally. This means that you need to have a bit of knowledge about how Photoshop works, what is a mask, what is a selection, and so forth… This being said, using the TM Panel is very easy. I personally think that it is a great product and at this price, there is no reason for not getting it.
➙ If you buy this plugin using the link below you can get a discount. Just type this code before you pay: FABIONODARI
Don’t miss my review of Photographing the World 1 – Landscape Photography by Elia Locardi. Here some tips on how to take better travel pictures. If you are looking for the most advanced plugin to create luminosity masks check out Lumi32 (here my review).