Installation instructions

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Additional installation instructions for tintii have been added to the download page for Windows, Mac and Linux. They will be particularly useful when the installer packages fail to automatically detect the locations of Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro to install the tintii plugin.

Tintii Photoshop plugin tutorial

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Red Umbrellas on Rose Street

Red Umbrellas on Rose Street, final colour pop

The original photo of Rose Street, Edinburgh

Rose Street, between its namesake mosaics that welcome passers by at either end, is a quiet retreat behind the busy thoroughfare of Edinburgh’s Princes Street – boutique stores and character pubs in the shadow of the high street giants. I snapped the original photo for this exercise four years ago off the back of a 30 hour flight. You’ll forgive the washed out sky and stark contrast I hope; what I’d tried to do was draw focus to the red umbrellas in the bottom left, but the result was disappointing. Now aided by Tintii, however, we can truly make those brollies pop.

Tintii is a Photoshop plugin for selective colour effects. It takes a colour photo, churns through its colour profile, and with a few quick mouse clicks from you, the user, keeps a handful of those colours while draining the rest into a black and white backdrop. It’s a commonly used technique, known variously as colour popping, selective colouring or colour selection. It’s been put to popular effect in movies such as Schindler’s List and Sin City. You’ll see it in magazines and plastered on billboards all over. The point is that Tintii makes it easy, without the tedious selections and masking that characterise alternative approaches.

This tutorial will step you through basic use of the Tintii Photoshop plugin. Use the page numbers below to navigate to the next page to begin.

tintii Reference Manual

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

tintii is a smart selective colour photo filter, highlighting the striking colours of a photo while desaturating the rest to greyscale. Also known as colour popping, think of Schindler’s List’s little girl in red, or the dramatic style of Sin City.

tintii cleverly separates the colour profile of a photo into a handful of major hues. All the user need do is select which of these hues to preserve and which to desaturate to greyscale. Unlike conventional techniques, there is no need to trace around the outline of objects, apply masks, or be confined to a rigid set of colours spaced equally round the colour-wheel. Postprocessing controls are provided to fine tune the effect, handling such challenges as whispy hair and background noise.

The tintii plug-in for Adobe® Photoshop® and Corel® Paint Shop Pro® is a great complement to the toolkit of professional or hobbyist photographers, graphic designers and web designers. Combined with these products’ range of tools such as selections, desaturation brushes and scripting, tintii perfects the effect across collections of photos quickly, easily and effectively.


tintii may be used as both a standalone program and as a Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro plug-in. The standalone version is available on both Windows and Linux. The plug-ins are available only on Windows at this stage.

The standalone version is run via the tintii.exe (Windows) or tintii (Linux) program. A splash screen will appear. Click the Open button to select an image to work with. The tintii dialog will appear allowing you to adjust the settings of the filter. Use the Save As button at the bottom of this dialog to save the modified image. Multiple windows may be opened in this manner to work with several images simultaneously, or indeed, to compare different settings across the same image.

The tintii Photoshop plug-in is run by selecting the Filter > indii.org > tintii menu item from within Photoshop, while the Paint Shop Pro plug-in is run by selecting the Effects > Plugins > indii.org > tintii menu item from within Paint Shop Pro. In both cases the tintii dialog will appear, allowing you to adjust the settings of the filter on the current image or selection. Use the OK button to apply the filter to the image. The plug-in is also scripting aware, so may be recorded through the Actions palette and applied to a batch of images.

The main window

Screenshot of filter dialog

tintii‘s main window is essentially the same for both the standalone and plug-in versions, with only the buttons at the bottom differing.

The window consists of four panes. The preview pane provides a preview of the tintii effect applied to the selected image; initially the entire image is in greyscale. The thumbs pane displays thumbnails depicting the major hues detected by tintii. Selecting a thumbnail will update the preview to display its hue in full colour. The preprocessing pane may be used to adjust the way tintii detects hues, while the postprocessing pane is used to polish up the final image.

The best way to learn how to use the various controls is to simply play with them! For a more rigorous understanding, however, the following sections describe all the panes and their controls in detail.

Preview pane

The preview pane displays the image being worked with in its current state. Initially the image will be completely greyscale. Select one or more thumbnails from the thumbs pane to show regions in colour. Changes made to controls in the postprocessing pane will also be reflected in the preview.

Use the scrollbars to move around the image, and the mouse wheel or buttons at the bottom of the pane to zoom in and out.

Thumbs pane

The thumbs pane provides a handful of thumbnail images depicting the hues found by tintii, and the regions of the image that they cover. Each thumbnail shows the greyscale image overlaid by a ghostly cloud marking one of the major hues.

The number of thumbnails displayed is given by the Thumbs option on the preprocessing pane. Click on a thumbnail to select or deselect it. Doing so will update the image in the preview pane.

The thumbnail images are updated according to changes made in the postprocessing pane. If any thumbnail seems not to show any colour, it is likely either that its hue applies only to a small region of the image, or it has effectively been eliminated by postprocessing settings. At any rate, selecting just that thumbnail in isolation may give a better idea in the preview pane.

Postprocessing pane

The postprocessing pane provides four controls for fine-tuning the image after one or more thumbs have been selected:

  • Saturation decay thresholds the saturation (intensity) of selected hues. Moving the slider all the way to the left will show all regions of the image that exhibit one of the selected hues. Moving the slider all the way to the right will show only those regions that exhibit the hues at their most saturated.
  • Saturation edge sharpens (left) and softens (right) the effects of saturation decay.
  • Hue decay thresholds the coherency of selected hues. Moving the slider all the way to the left will show all regions of the image that exhibit a colour reasonably close to one of the selected hues. Moving the slider all the way to the right will show only those regions exhibiting a colour which exactly matches one of the hues.
  • Hue edge sharpens (left) and softens (right) the effects of hue decay.

Note that the saturation and hue decay sliders work in conjunction, so you can mix the effects of both.

Preprocessing pane

The preprocessing pane provides four controls for fine-tuning the way in which colours are detected by tintii. The first of these is essential, while you are unlikely to need the others, and they should be considered advanced options.

  • Thumbs sets the number of thumbnail images to appear in the thumbs pane, i.e. the number of major hues that you wish tintii to detect.
  • Repetitions sets the number of times tintii‘s hue detection algorithm is run, with the best result from all runs chosen to produce the thumbnails. Increasing this may improve the quality of tintii‘s hue detection.
  • Maximum pixels sets the maximum number of pixels in the image that tintii uses to detect hues. Increasing this may improve the quality of hue detection in some situations, although care should be taken, as setting this too high will cause it to run very slowly! Conversely, if tintii is running too slowly, decreasing this may improve performance.
  • Saturation threshold sets the minimum saturation of a hue present in the image for it to be considered in tintii‘s hue detection algorithm. Adjusting this may improve the quality of hue detection in some situations, particularly where detection of very bold colours in the image is sought.


After selecting the thumbnails for the hues that you wish to keep, you will usually find that there remains some background noise – other splashes of colour that you don’t want. This can in fact give an unexpectedly pleasant result, but sometimes you may just want to eliminate these spurious patches of colour. Here are a few tips on how to go about this:

  • Start with the Thumbs setting on the preprocessing pane. Try increasing this to see if you can split up some of the colours further.
  • The Saturation decay slider of the postprocessing pane is your next best bet. Background noise is often less saturated than the striking red umbrella or distinctive road sign that you’re trying to pick out, so increase this slider to see if it helps.
  • The Saturation edge slider of the postprocessing pane is useful for softening any sharp edges between colour and greyscale boundaries. It’s especially useful for picking out objects with poorly defined edges, such as coloured hair, where it should give a more natural and pleasing result.
  • The Hue decay slider has more limited use, but may be effective as well. What it does is strip way colours that are less strongly related to all the hues of a thumb. Have a play with it – note that it can be quite sensitive and you may need to drag it almost all the way to the right, or even barely at all from the left, to see a noticeable effect. We also find that reducing the number of thumbs can be more effective if you have to rely on hue decay heavily.

There are always other graphics programs for further processing, you needn’t do it all in tintii! As a Photoshop filter plug-in, you can think of using tintii in combination with other tools, rather than in isolation. Here’s some ideas:

  • Use one of the selection tools to draw a rough box around the area that you want to appear in colour. Use the Filter > indii.org > tintii menu item to apply tintii just to that selected region. Once tintii is done, use Select > Inverse to select the part to be in greyscale, and Image > Adjustments > Black & White to finish it off.
  • For more fluidity, use a desaturation brush. Apply tintii to the whole image to start with. Now, select the Brush Tool from the tool palette (usually on the left) and set the Mode (usually up the top) to Saturation. Make sure the foreground colour is set to black and the background to white. Adjust the size of the brush if you need to, and then simply paint over the areas of colour that you want to go away. While it’s not always perfect, tintii does tend to preserve edges quite well; noise is often well separated from the object of interest, and can be easily brushed out in this manner.
  • When it comes to greyscale, note that tintii converts to black and white using the following mix: red (29.9%), green (58.7%) and blue (11.4%).

For batch processing of many photos, Photoshop provides a few options:

  • After applying tintii to one image, you can use the Filter > tintii option to apply tintii to a new image using the same settings as the previous image, without seeing the tintii window again. Note that this won’t work if you’ve used another filter after tintii, as that last used filter will occupy the top space in the Filter menu instead.
  • You can use the Window > Actions palette in Photoshop to automate the application of tintii to images. tintii is scripting aware, which means you can hit the record button in this palette, apply tintii to an image, along with any other filters and adjustments, then save the whole sequence to reapply to other images automatically.

Announcing tintii 2.2.0, for Mac!

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

tintii version 2.2.0 has just been released, bringing its smart colour pops to the Mac for the first time! The Photoshop plugin, developed for both PowerPC and Intel platforms on MacOSX 10.4 and later, can be downloaded here, along with the usual free standalone version to try the effect.

tintii under Photoshop CS4 on the Mac

Linux and Windows users will also find a few treats in the new release, with a new channel mixer pane included for control over the mixing of colour channels down to greyscale, and multicore processor support for a sizeable speed boost. In an effort to make the software more accessible, the Windows installer has been expanded into several languages, with preparations made for potential translation of the main software in future also.

Feedback on the new version is most welcome, particularly from users of the new Mac version — please post a comment to let us know how you’ve gone.

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