Anything Photoshop or Photography

How to Create Your Own Panel for Photoshop

This may sound like a really hard thing to do, but it is amazing how easy it is! And it can save a bunch of time if tailored to your own workflow. Adobe states “Configurator is a utility application that helps create custom panels for Photoshop and InDesign. Configurator makes it easy to drag and drop tools, menu items, scripts, actions, and other objects into a panel design, then export the results for use in Photoshop or InDesign.” Many people use specialized panels set up just to teach Photoshop.

Why use a personal panel? For me it saves a lot of time when I am switching between two different tools. For example, there are many times I am going between a regular brush and a mixer brush. By setting up the two tool icons in the panel, it is very quick for me to click on the icon with my Wacom stylus to switch between them. Switching to the Eraser Tool is nice to have. Menu items used all the time can be added to your panel (like the Convert to Smart Object button below) and even actions can be connected here (see in the Postcards panel all the actions I have connected there). Here is an example of a pretty basic panel I created and actually nested with the History, Adjustments, and Properties panels. Multiple tabbed panels can be created. I will be tweaking this one since you can go back and edit them to make it easier to use, but it was a good start. (Double-click on screenshot to see it better in Flickr.)
Go to Adobe’s website and download the Adobe Configurator 4 – here is the link to the Adobe page for Photoshop CS6 and CC. The basic steps needed to get the panel up and going on your computer are provided. Basically Adobe AIR needs to be downloaded to make sure the latest edition is on your computer, then load the Adobe Configurator 4. Unfortunately it appears the Adobe Configurator 3 download links  have recently been removed from Adobe Labs which CS4 and CS5 need – if you are interested, I would drop them a line and see if they could hook you up with the ones that worked with those two versions.

Adobe has a 16-minute introductory video on the Adobe Configurator 3 from Adobe TV which also shows how to put your panels up on Adobe Exchange if you have created one you would like to share. The Sample Panels version 4 does not appear to be working but Adobe is expecting to update Configurator within the next few weeks. When you first open up Adobe Configurator 4, you get a nice 5 step workflow to get your started. Thought I would copy them for you to give you an idea about how easy it is to get started doing this. So from Adobe:

1. Begin by created a new panel (File -> New Panel).
2. Drag items you want to add to your panel from the area on the left, then drop them inside the new panel.
3. Use the controls on the right to customize the layout and functionality.
4. When finished, export your panel (File -> Export). NOTE: At this point also do a File -> Save Panel As to get a File Name.gpc file that is needed to edit the panel in Configurator at a later time – and be sure to save it in a different place than the Photoshop Panel folder.
5. In Photoshop CC or Photoshop CS6 or InDesign CS6, load your new panel from the Window -> Extensions menu. (Restart Photoshop or InDesign after exporting your panel for the first time).

That is really all there is to it – very simple to do. I don’t know why everyone is not creating panels for all their different workflows. Adobe says to make a CS4 or CS5 panel compatible with CS6, you must open the Configurator 1-3 format file in Configurator 4 and when it asks you to create a CS6 panel – say yes. Then export for CS6 (File -> Export Panel). To make your panel compatible with CC, choose Edit > Convert to CC, then go to File -> Export Panel and navigate to the CC Panel folder. There is a slight difference between the files the two programs use. (In Windows the Panel folder resides in the Plug-ins folder.) If also saving your file for further editing, be careful not to Save As to your Photoshop Panel folder, or the panel will not appear in the Windows -> Extensions list. (I did this and had to figure out what went wrong.) I had forgotten how much I used the panel created for Dan Margulis’s workflow in CS4. (Double-click on image to get a better look in Flickr.) Here is a screenshot of the Postcards panel when opened in Photoshop CS6 – obviously I put it on my second monitor or I would not be able to see anything! You can make the column quite small so it does not get in the way for less complicated panels. If you are having problems with the Configurator, Adobe does have a forum group that is linked with the download link above. BTW, if you decide you do not want an Extension in your program, open up the Adobe Extension Manager and go to File -> Remove Extension. You will need to download the Adobe Extension Manager CC from the Adobe Application Manager if you did not while installing the new Photoshop CC. The top image was created using the my Postcards panel created for Dan Margulis’ techniques – he goes for very exact color and sharpness to an image. He is one of the original Photoshop Gurus – at Photoshop World in Las Vegas in 2009 he presented his Picture Postcard Workflow, and that is what my panel was based on. Here is the Dan Margulis website to get more info on his techniques and a free download of a much better panel than what I created earlier. Dan’s panel is an excellent example of what can be done using the Configurator. (Once his file is downloaded, double-click on the file and the Adobe Extension Manager for your version of Photoshop will open. It then adds it into the correct panel folder in Photoshop.) All of his books are excellent but extremely technical, so be ready for a challenge!

If you have looked through any of my Fun Photoshop Blogs, you will find several other people’s panels that can be added to Photoshop to do all sorts of things. See my Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs below for links to panels others have created. They are all using this program to create some very original uses. Hope you get a chance to try this out. At least it is very easy to create new ones. Give it a go and see what you think!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Using a Tych Panel to Show Off Your Images
Dr. Brown’s Painting Assistant Panel for CS6 and CS5!
Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!
Edit Layers with ACR (Adobe Camera Raw) Script

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2 responses

  1. Pingback: Digital Lady Syd Celebrates 3 Years Of Blogging! | Digital Lady Syd's Fun Photoshop Blog

  2. Pingback: WHY USE THE TOOL PRESET PANEL? PHOTOSHOP PAINTERS LISTEN UP! | Digital Lady Syd's Fun Photoshop Blog

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