Free CS extension #1 – Floating Adjustments avatar
Free CS extension #1 – Floating Adjustments

by Davide on 4 May 2011

In the last years, the Applied Color Theory in Photoshop Yahoo group (founded by Dan Margulis back in 2000) has sent me email digests more or less every day.
Number #3572, May 3rd, starts with a post from a Graphic Designer, titled Retrofitting the old curves dialog to CS5:

We upgraded to CS5 and I am dealing with the new integrated curves dialog
in the adjustments panel when working with a curves adjustment layer. How
do I get back to the old dialog which shows up when you apply curves
directly to the image/layer?

Personally, it took me a while to get accustomed to the Adjustments Panel; and even though I still prefer the “old way”, I can live with it now.

Yet, I remember months of great frustration and hostility towards that panel and progress in general :-) . Basically for two reasons: IMHO it wastes a lot of display’s real estate; moreover, even its larger version is smaller compared to old style floating windows – which is a downside when you draw Curves for instance.

My version of the Adjustments panel, which restores the Floating Window behavior

So in June 2009 I felt compelled to code my own version. It was a panel called Floating Adjustments, which made all the newly created adjustment layers (of almost any kind) to open as floating windows; plus, it allowed every existing adjustment layer to be modified as floating windows. That is, my secret agenda was to kill the original Adjustments Panel…!

Back then, I had very little experience on CS Extension coding (which is damn slowly increasing), so I’ve had to fix a couple of things to make it run properly – as far as I recall it worked, but who remembers. Finally here it is!

Having learned so much from Colortheory people it’s a pleasure to give them back a little something from time to time, so this is the link for the free download (in the freeware section of our main site – login required with free account of course) and some installation notes. The panel requires Photoshop CS5 (Basic or Extended) or higher, Mac or PC. If you can’t sleep without this information, it’s been coded with Flash Builder 4 + Extension Builder 1.5 (even though Configurator would have been enough, I suppose).

Curves floating window dialog It works this way: if you want to create a new Adjustment layer, click the corresponding icon. Bigger, good old-style floating window appears. The panel supports the creation of 10 adjustment kinds (Curves, Levels, Exposure, Black&White, Brightness/Contrast, Hue/Saturation, Vibrance, Selective Color, Channel Mixer, Color Balance).

Plus, it lets you modify any kind of adjustment layers (even those who are not listed above – with the exception of Invert which has no options), always as floating windows.

Mind you, I’ve run some test before packaging the panel – everything seems to be fine: anyway if you find any bug, feel free to contact me!


Post Scrittum
Just in case you’ve missed it, I wrote ALCE – Advanced Local Contrast Enhancer, a Photoshop panel  (with a batch utility) that runs a smart local contrast algorithm – full webpage with a lot of real world examples here.


marco MO May 4, 2011 11:10

Very well done, DB. ‘Twas just about time you decided to make public something we’ve had for long time behind the curtain… :)

FG May 4, 2011 11:31

agreed with MO! VERY good work!! :)

“normal” panel is soooooo little, especially with large monitors

Marco Diodato May 4, 2011 12:12

Ehi DB, great shot! Can you make Curves panel even bigger? Thank you!

Davide Davide May 5, 2011 07:38

You’re insane ;-)
- Oh MD, what a big panel you have!
- All the better to Curve you with, Little Red Cap…

Frederick Yocum May 4, 2011 13:00

Thanks Davide!

giuly giuly May 5, 2011 22:23

Great work Davide, I’m happy you decided to share it

Marc Weisberg August 5, 2011 17:52

Hi David, I installed you floating panel and can see it in my extensions mgr. but do not see it and don’t know how to access it in CS5. Can you give me a few clues?! Thank you. :-)

Davide Davide August 6, 2011 19:11

Check your email ;-)

Markus Marschall August 12, 2011 04:38

Hi David,

I am glad, you came up with this solution.
One question: Is there a way, to make it accept the option key, to link it to layers and select the mode (e.g.Luminosity), before the adjustment layer opens?
Thank you, I appreciate it!


Davide Davide August 12, 2011 14:01

Thanks Markus!
Do you mean that like pressing Options when adding the adj. layer so that the popup window appears with Name, Clipping, Color, Mode, Opacity?
Yes, I guess it should be done – my RBG co-blogger Giuliana has managed to add modifier keys in Configurator, I’ll ask her!

Markus Marschall August 12, 2011 14:21

Hi Davide,

Yes, that is what I meant.
Thank you, I love this extension!


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