A basic user tool? - request or point me to it

I am a good test case for a "long in the tooth" graphics tool user that needs to learn (and often relearn) tricks for getting things done in SA.

I have - thru the years - learned to work with Layers in SA and fiddle the settings… But have - on a regular basis - forgot how to do it all (and only wish it was beer consumption that led to the forgetting). This happens as often as not after intensive long term use of Adobe products. I have to go back to the manuals in SA and hints and any source of information I can remember.

The fact that some features in SA can be complex multistep processes - to get something that seems straight forward - is partly the issue. Deep, regular use of Adobe applications can dummy me down fast too. Having to dig around in SA and get re-informed every other year can at times be embarrassing and other times a source of frustration with a great tool. It shouldnt be that hard to make thing happen.

This all does make me a good facsimile of a new user interested in SA and stumbling over the complexity, alternate thinking and some lack of transparency in how to use the tools.

A while back in this forum there was some discussion about what might make good one click tools for Macro edits in the Help section of SA. At the time i was using SA a very specific way. No special dials need adjusting… I couldnt contribute much.

But yesterday - after running up against a whole forgotten process for being able to hand draw hilights on an image - in a new layer - and having to read all about Layers and Layer Alpha again (for the nth time) - I thought I would pose a question to John and the user base here and see if what I would like as a "macro" already exists - or could be made easily.

I want to make some new Layers - with certain features - fast!

This would be one example:

  • I want to make a new layer with Alpha Enabled for view.
  • I want the layer Alpha Full Off.
  • Maybe set the background to one of the options available… Maybe more fiddling...

I want to be able to do this with a click. Not have to fiddle the menu items for each new layer and potentially get it wrong… Or forget what all the options do and have to go relearn it all again. (<- This happens a LOT! argh!)

I want a canned set of buttons. I am referring to something like the Paint Synth Macro edits.

The question:

Is there a shortcut for one touch Layer making, features in place - or can one be built? 

Basically a one button process for slapping new - feature specific layers onto the canvas with a button press.


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A layer's alpha channel will be set to whatever Canvas : Alpha : Initialize is set to.

So you could set it to Full Off.

That initialize the alpha channel option happens automatically whenever you make a new layer.

If you always want to erase the alpha channel when you erase the canvas in addition to erasing the RGB channels to whatever your Erase To setting is, then use Full Erase. Shift clicking the eraser icon in the main toolbar as opposed to clicking it does a full erase as opposed to the RGB only erase.

Alpha : Enable for View is global. So you don't turn it on for each layer, you just turn it on and then it is on.

I am getting (for the most part) the ons and offs.

Here is what I see in practice:

Open a new file.

I want a base layer.

I want it white.

The default seems to be what I want...

I would imagine if I need to set this layer (if it isn't by default) - I would make it: Alpha Full On.

Because -

If I set the base layer to Alpha Full Off - it turns black… and any drawing I have done disappears (even tho it is there)

If I reset it to Full On - it turns white again… (my drawing is back)

But -

I want my next layer to be Alpha Full Off.

I can make the new layer and set the alpha

However - I am already at this point quite deep into fiddling the dials to get the layer settings I want… and a little confused about what I have got set.

I was wondering if there was a less hazardously user error prone route to getting the layer settings in place… and thought I would bring it up as a possible "easy" button - that might be added in the future.

If not an easy button… I am thinking - is there a way to save a file or session - that contains all the layers and settings I might want - that could be opened as a template? The ability to make and copy and re-use a template is something I have not explored in SA.

The default background color if the first layer's alpha is full off can be any of those Canvas : Alpha : Background colors choices. So it doesn't have to be black, that's just the default setting.

Photoshop would show the little transparency squares pattern. Which some people have asked us to add as an additional option. As opposed to fixed color backgrounds that show through if there is no alpha in an area. Which is what we do now.

When you save a session file, it should save your layers and all the settings associated with the alpha menus. So you could use those as templates.

If there's something missing that doesn't get saved, let me know. But it's supposed to save all of those settings in the session file.

I suppose we could add 2 macro edit commands that configure the workspace for working with alpha, or what we normally default it to, where it isn't. It could turn on the appropriate menu flags, and change the view to view all. Or revert all of that stuff to how it defaults, where you are looking at single layers and alpha is not enabled. I'll think about that. If it would really make your life (and other) easier, then i'm all for adding it.

In general, i'd like to see us super expand the whole notion of macro edit commands.

We have added quite a few new ones associated with the paint synthesizer.

And we have a million really useful MSG macro edit commands.

But maybe there are whole other different concepts that could be implemented that way.

So i'm open to suggestions.

There are a lot of new gallery show effect configuration features that could also be made accessible via macro edit commands.


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