As I work on the next version (I should have a pre-release in just a few days!), an interesting thing is happening. I am learning more and more about the power contained within the current version (3.1).
Learning more about Sagelight Editor’s current Powerful functions as I add new ones
Here’s an example. For the next version, I just put in hand-drawn curves. I have written articles about how hand-drawn-based curves are basically dead — for image toning. And, well, they are. I don’t recommend curves (that is, hand-drawn curves, i.e. the traditional sort with the diagonal line moved with the mouse and control points) for general image toning and believe they are definitely passe.
It turns out that curves can be a powerful tool in other ways, however. For example, here is a very basic “solarized” effect with a simple curve (and then smoothed out with the Image Smoothing function in Sagelight):
But, outside of simple tricks like this, hand-drawn curves aren’t really too interesting for image toning (though, they are particularly useful for other things, a subject of another blog post)
Sagelight Curves Really are that Powerful
There’s definitely a difference between having one thing and saying its better, but not having the thing you’re comparing it against. Such was the case with curves. I basically went to town on implementing hand-drawn curves for version 4.0. They’re no beginner material, but I put a lot of emphasis on the things I’ve always hated about curves, like having to do far too much to select different channels, upsetting my rhythm. Well, more about that in a week or so when I release the pre-release.
But, now that Sagelioght hase hand-drawn curves, I very quickly found out just how powerful the Sagelight Curves (i.e. the “RGB Controls” really are). In a recent blog post, I compared them to what I can do in, say, Adobe Photoshop, but never having implemented them within Sagelight, I really didn’t see the extent of the new technology developed for Sagelight in the Sagelight Curves and how much better they work for image toning compared to doing it yourself. I spent over a year fine-tuning the curves to work together, so that you can control and mix coarse and very subtle elements. You can perform upwards of 30 curves simultaneously with just a few sliders, which generates a composite basically impossible to get with hand-drawn curves.
For example, just moving the Low Contrast and Shadows Slider together can generate 5-6 curves which mix together. This would be like opening the same number of hand-drawn curve windows at the same time and having to work with these curves. Add just a couple more slider movements (i.e. different sliders), and you’re very easily up to 10+ curve settings fluidly working together (you can see the composite curve generated in the histogram curve display).
So, with just a few slider movements, you can perform tasks that would take a large amount of experience and work to just do what you can do by feel with Sagelight by moving a few sliders.
Getting Deep Saturation With Sagelight
I just spent the last month working on color theory. It’s been a big reason for the delay in getting Sagelight 4.0 out, but I think you’ll see its worth it — even for version 3.0. Applying a number of things I’ve realized about color theory led me to realize that Sagelight already does many of the things I’m putting in!
Of course, what I’m putting in may make it easier, but Sagelight has a very solid core engine based on image processing fundamentals.
Here’s an example: Deep Saturation. I’ve been putting in some rather aggressive “Vibrance”-like algorithms in Sagelight, but realized that there are problems with Vibrance-ish technology functions — they exacerbate noise. It’s their nature, and in many cases, you’re better off sticking with the fundamentals anyway.
One thing I’ve developed is a way to resaturate an image. And, I also realized there is a way to essentially do this in Sagelight. Here’s a before-and-after example:
As you can see, the after-image is really much nicer, and I did it by realizing that Sagelight can already do the things I’m working on! This is one of the reasons Sagelight has always had very serious masking. It can mask in H,S,L and YUV mode (superior to YCrCb, in my opinion — LAB mode is used a lot in Sagelight, too, but it really isn’t necessary, and using XYZ or YXY mode is a better option for most things anyway. LAB, a lot of times, is another one of those cool labels like “exposure” that really doesn’t have the impact on your image the connotation is supposed to… but I digress). The reason I put such powerful masking into Sagelight from the beginning is because this ability is part of the core image-processing fundamentals I used to give Sagelight a very solid foundation, amounting to a lot of power.
The above example is a result of that, and this is also why I am continually discovering more and more about the capabilities of my own creation — because I see a concept and realize “Hey, Sagelight can do that!”
Here is how to get this type of Deep Saturation in Sagelight
- Select Masking (just click on the screen, or Select “Advanced Masking” from the Mask Menu)
- Select “Advanced Masking” from the Color Picker (if you clicked on the screen)
- Select “YUV” for the input.
- Click on the screen for the color area you want to deepen
- Set the ranges of the Y,U, and V elements to about 30% each (for some reason V comes up as lopsided compared to U and Y — set U and Y RANGE (not value) to where V defaults to. This is a good setting).
- Set the RANGE values to where the mask makes sense. You can see the mask move around as you change the values (or click elsewhere on the screen).
Here is an example of what the screen will look like:
Here is an example of what the mask menu will look like.
- Press “Commit Mask Selection”. This saves the mask selection so you can do multiple operations without changing the mask.
- De-select ‘F’ (in the RGB controls) to de-select fine mode
- Move the Brightness Slider down some amount (starting to get dark, but not too much, but a little aggressive)
- Press “Apply”
- Use the Saturation Slider to Saturate as much as desired. If you don’t get as much as you want, that’s ok — keep it under 70.
- Saturate again.
That’s all that is needed!
Basically, what you’re doing is selecting a specific color range and using a basic principle: when you darken colors, they can take more saturation. Therefore, you get deeper colors.
Here is an example of what’s coming in the next version:
Probably over-the-top color-wise, but the main point is that you can do an awful lot with color these days.