Shape | Midtones Global/Local Contrast Manager

Shape is a Plugin for Photoshop CC to manage contrast, sharpness, and color, in just one step. Its shaping effect is mostly concentrated in the mid-tones, using a sophisticated 32bit internal masking tool protecting highlights and shadows, that the user can control by just moving the sliders.

A unique feature, Shape allows changing not only the amount but also the kind of contrast as the user can modify the default global/local contrast mix. The color behavior can be controlled as well, thanks to the color boost control and the two color modes.


Shape Plugin for Photoshop with a sample of application and the Panel window

Midtones Contrast

Shape adds contrast and sharpness to mid-tones in just one step, thanks to a masking tool that protects highlights and shadows.

Global/Local Mix

Shape pops-up shape and colors with no halos using a customizable mix of Global/Local contrast with great artifacts-free transitions.

Midtones USM

Shape is a unique and powerful sharpener that you can exclude in shadows and highlights where USM creates the most of the artifacts.

Color Control

Shape allows full color-control thanks to its 32bit engine, the color boost tool and two color modes, with a natural and photographic look.

  • Customizable Global/local Contrast Mix artifacts-free 85%
  • Shape adds contrast and sharpness to mid-tones in just one step 95%
  • Full control of color behavior with the color boost option 75%

€32 – Multi-licenses available

Full functions version with watermark

How Shape “Makes it Pop.”

Shape, through its internal 32bit frequency decomposition, just adjusting the “Shape” slider creates a unique kind of contrast that adds shape, depth of tones or, if you prefer a three-dimensional effect without losing saturation, and a pleasant and natural look. And no halos.

The contrast enhancement in shadows and highlights is controlled by the internal masking tool working at 32bit; it creates smooth masks without any posterization. The ”Protect” value is linked to the “Shape” one, but the user can manually reduce or increase its effect, by unlocking the padlock button.

To see how Shape works watch the video or click on the icon on the right to see the before/after examples at full page.

Shape Plugin for Photoshop. The Panel in extended mode

How it works. Basic use.

Shape allows full control over the contrast of your image.

From the panel, you can access the basic functions to control:
The CONTRAST AMOUNT by using the “Shape” slider.
The SHARPNESS AMOUNT by using the “Sharpness” slider.
How much to PROTECT HIGHLIGHTS AND SHADOWS by unlocking the Padlock button.

Step 1. Set the contrast value using the “Shape” slider. The internal tools protecting highlights and shadows will set accordingly. 50 contrast=50 protection, etc.

Step 2. Protect highlights and shadows less or more by unlocking the Padlock button and tweaking the protect sliders independently.

Step 3 Add sharpness if necessary by using the “Sharpness” slider.

Shape Plugin for Photoshop. The Preferences window

Advanced use.

From the preferences window, you will be able to access the advanced functions to control:

The GLOBAL/LOCAL BALANCE by modifying the Low-Frequency radius. A lower number shift the balance to local, a higher number to global.
The SHARPNESS MODE, by tweaking the High-Frequency value.
The COLOR SATURATION in the Color boost tab.
The COLOR MODE by choosing RGB instead of the default Luminosity.

The Low-Frequency radius value is the core parameter of Shape. Try different values to find your custom default balance. A lower radius adds local detail, a higher one a more “photographic” natural look.

Midtones contrast.  “Protection” linked to “Shape”, or independent.

The shape effect mostly works on mid-tones, thanks to an internal masking tool that progressively reduce the contrast effect on highlights and shadows. The high quality masking is created internally at 32bit without posterization. The “Protect” sliders are crucial in the Shape routine. By default, their values are linked to the “Shape” one, but the user can easily tweak them independently by unlocking the padlock icon.

Global and Local contrast balance.

A global adjustment of contrast that is usually done with Photoshop curves, sets the balance of the entire picture. A local adjustment works on every area of the picture separately to make the most out of it, so that all of the image’s features may be significantly intensified; in this field, an excellent tool is NEXT. Both systems have pros and cons.

So why don’t find a way to keep the best of the two worlds? Shape allows this. Its default setting is a mix of global (prevalent) and local contrast. To get more global contrast, increase the low-frequency amount in the preferences window.  To increase the local, reduce it.

This video shows the difference between two different settings. You may choose your preferred one a save it as your custom default.
Low-Frequency radius set to 256 (default) with a prevalence of global contrast.
Low-Frequency radius set to 64 with a prevalence of local contrast.

Full control of color behavior.

Shape by default uses the lab luminosity channel to perform it’s routine, completed by a color boost tool. The value 15, in general, is very good but you can modify it in the preferences window. Alternatively, it’s possible to switch to “Color Accuracy” mode. This option is slower but, in some cases, like for instance landscape images can deliver wonderful color rendition.

Customizable sharpening effect.

The “Sharpness” slider works by contrasting the low-frequency band of the image that by default is set to 2.5. You can reduce or increase this number to modify the sharpening effect. For instance, setting 1.5 you will sharpen the finest details, with 4, you will get a larger, more aggressive USM effect. Resuming: the Sharpness slider set the amount of sharpening. The low-frequency value set the sharpening mode.

With Shape, you may limit the effect of sharpening to the mid-tones, excluding highlights and shadows where USM creates the most of the artifacts.
You may also control the color saturation compensating. These features are exclusive of Shape. Set the “Shape” slider value to 0 to add only USM.

€32 – Multi-licenses available

Full functions version with watermark

Compatibility, version and manual

Photoshop CC and later
Mac: OSX Lion and later
WIN: WIN 7 and later, 64bit only
Current Version: 1.0.8
Read or download the user manual

The cover of the user manual of Shape plugin for Photoshop CC with the panel and a sample of application

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