I have one tab for my active work on an image and it is built like a waterfall, starting with my most used tools on top, and my least used in the bottom.
Why, you ask? Simple! Muscle memory! I could probably find the buttons blindfolded as I click on them so many times each day!
This is extremely beneficial for daily work as it allows you to not have to focus 100% on every single aspect – especially during the rough work of basic cleanups and D&B.
Do you know that feeling when you drive a car to or from work, arrive and can’t remember anything about the drive, as your brain was on autopilot? It’s the same thing, and having a decluttered toolkit supports that.
So what am I using?
I ALWAYS create the eye help layers. Do I use them every time? No, but I have it in my brain to create them as soon as I open a file. It’s just helpful to have it there when I need it and doesn’t break my thought by having to wonder whether I need it now or not. I just use it when I feel I should – and it’s there for me to do so.
Next thing I do is create the healing layer and D&B. This is also something I do in literally every file. I use these tools in nearly every image (yes, some images don’t even require one or the other).
So these 3 buttons are the ones I use in any images without excuse.
Not as frequent but common enough, is the use of Smart Liquify, as there’s often something to be liquified, be it clothes that are too big or throw a fold or wrinkle, hair that could have a better shape or something more exotic like a bottle that has some distortion going on that couldn’t be fixed otherwise. (This is rare).
The “Smart” in “Smart Liquify” is one of my favourite features, but that’s for another blog post on another day!
The rest of my tools are 3 different Frequency Separations for different occasions, and the gradient map maker.
None of those are one-size-fits-all, and should be used carefully and with the right circumstances in mind, and as always, back up your work frequently before you try to use a tool you may not be as familiar with!
The second tab is my export tab.
“Duplicate Merged” is something I often use when I need to quickly export big files. Nothing is worse than waiting for a huge file to get ready for export.
The next two are for sharpening. I don’t use these a lot as most of the time, as sharpening isn’t necessary at all. More about that in a different post!
I have several resize options that I don’t use that often anymore as my final exports mostly come from Capture One. However it’s helpful when I for example prepare images for Instagram.
Last but not least is “Save For Web”. It’s hands down what I use the most, especially in combination with “Duplicate Merged”, for a quick sRGB export of ongoing work.
I know, in the second tab I contradict myself a bit with my “waterfall” idea, but again, it comes down to muscle memory.
I’m so used to having the buttons there and some buttons that I don’t use, that I don’t want to shake it up. Maybe I should one day, or add buttons I might use more. Maybe it’s just my brain’s way of saving space for new features that get added to the toolkit later!
So this sums up my tiny minimalistic Retouching Toolkit that I use on a day-to-day basis, while still having access to the full panels when I need them.
What about other panels?
This also isn’t the only panel you can simplify and make more lean!
The layout also works well with the Luminosity Panel as well as the Color Wheels – although there isn’t as much meat on them.
Here’s what my Luminosity Panel looks like: