Top professional photo-finishing of the type done for high fashion magazines usually involves lots of time-consuming work performed in Adobe Photoshop. Respected photographer Kevin Kubota has learned to cut his effort by taking advantage of Photoshop's Actions--the ability to program macros that turn multi-step editing processes into single-click automated applications. Kubota Image Tools (KIT) Artistic Packs provides the rest of us with the power and creative brilliance of Kevin's customized Actions, adding a professional gloss to even average photos. At present, KIT has four Artistic Packs (1-4), each adding more effects to your library of Actions. We tested Kubota Image Tools 3 ($179) for this review.
As a Photoshop add-on, KIT Artistic Pack 3 operates from within Photoshop. Installation is not intuitive; it requires that you find the correct Photoshop folder on your computer. However, a ReadMe file does help cut through the confusion.
The key component of the Artistic Packs is the Dashboard, where you can access all the KIT tools you have purchased (plus see the ones you don't yet have, tantalizingly listed but marked with an X to show they're unavailable). Each of the named effects initiates an Action on your photo (or on a selected portion of it), which applies numerous editing steps--such as a selection, color or exposure change, special effect and so forth. As the automated processes are applied, re-editable layers build up on your picture. Some tools also provide the option of selectively brushing on an effect to specific areas of the picture. For instance, with some of the tools that blur the picture, you can selectively restore areas of sharpness, such as on the eyes of a portrait.
Kubota Image Tools Artistic Packs are all the more expensive because they're habit-forming. Once you use one pack, you're sure to want to add others to your library. But, if you make your living as a photographer, time is money. KIT Artistic Packs are valuable shortcuts to professional quality photo-finishing.