Tool Mode


Supported by Photoshop Elements 11 and higher
Requirements: An image needs to be open
Added in ElementsXXL 2.0

Photoshop Elements does not allow using all tools on images with 16 bits per channel. Usually it asks you to convert the image to 8-bit depth in order to use them. If you want to keep the image at 16-bit depth, this is usually not a solution. To circumvent this limitation ElementsXXL
offers a so-called Tool Mode that lets you use the restricted tool anyway.

Tool Mode is similar to the Render features of ElementsXXL. Both use an 8-bit document to apply effects to a 16-bit document. Tool Mode is meant for quick and easy edits whereas the Render features require more planning but offer more possibilities and control. For more information on the Render menu see Image > Render.

Tool Mode supports the following 29 tools:

The Eraser, Background Erase and Magic Eraser tools can be used in Tool Mode, but you cannot trigger Tool Mode with them.

Starting Tool Mode

When you click on a tool that is normally not usable with 16-bit images, ElementsXXL displays a message like this:

Now you can decide if you want to use Tool Mode, convert the image to 8-bit depth or not use the tool at all by clicking Cancel. You do not need to click something on this message box. If you switch to a supported tool, the message box vanishes again.

Please note: In Photoshop Elements 6-10 activating some tools will not display the message above for entering Tool Mode. To use such a tool anyway click on another tools that displays the message. When you are in Tool Mode, simply switch back to previous tool to use it.

To effectively apply some tools in Tool Mode you may have to activate the Sample All Layers check box on the Tool Options bar. If it is necessary for a certain tool, you will see the bold note as in the screen shot above. Otherwise this note will not be displayed. ElementsXXL cannot access the Tool Options settings, so it will display the note even if you already activated it.

Once you clicked the Tool Mode button ElementsXXL creates a new document called "Tool Mode". This new document includes the original image converted from 16-bit down to 8-bit per channel plus a new layer with the name of the selected tool. This layer will later be used to render the tool edits back to the original 16-bit image.

Working in Tool Mode

Once you are in Tool Mode you can apply the selected tool to the image. You can also use the Eraser, Background Eraser and Magic eraser tools to undo some of your tool work.

You do not need to leave Tool Mode if you want to use another tool. Simply select the other tool and ElementsXXL will automatically create a new layer for the new tool. When you switch back to the previous tool, the old tool layer will automatically be selected.

In the Layers panel you can change the position of the tool layers and also adjust their opacity and blend mode. You can also add a layer mask to a tool layer, but it is easier to use the Eraser tool instead. Better avoid other modifications to the tool layers in the Layers panel, because they may not be rendered back to the original 16-bit document. Only tool layers with the correct layer name will be applied back to the 16-bit document, so please do not rename tool layers, do not add layers of your own and do not modify the background layer.

Exiting Tool Mode

Once you have finished and want to apply the changes, click the OK button on the small Exit Tool Mode window that is displayed in the top right corner of the Photoshop Elements window.

As a result the tool layers are rendered to the original 16-bit document and the Tool Mode document is closed.