Don’t think of Caffeine Software’s TIFFany3 Professional 3.5.3 as one of Adobe Photoshop’s competitors–it’s really in a breed of its own. Caffeine calls TIFFany3 an image processor rather than an image editor, and it’s right to do so. Unlike Photoshop, the OS Xonly TIFFany3 provides tools for building auto-matic processes you can apply to many images at once. TIFFany3 is a powerful, customizable tool; however, because the program isn’t as interactive as it could be, it requires you to plan ahead.
Just about everything you do in TIFFany3 depends on actions. The program includes more than 500 preconfigured actions, which you can modify and string together to make new ones. And what sets them apart from the actions found in Photoshop is that they’re not macros that administer operations; they’re the operations themselves.
TIFFany3 gives you three types of actions for editing images: standard, mask, and process. Using standard actions, you can modify your image in ways that range from tweaking brightness, contrast, or color, to applying Mandelbrot texture generators. Mask actions let you select parts of an image–based on brightness or color differences or on geometry–to isolate a range of color or tone, or to create holes, rays, vignettes, and other geometric selections. Process actions allow you to chain multiple actions together and, via a flowchart, create imageprocessing instructions. These instructions can be simple–for example, rotating an image. And they can be very complex; you might create a combination of standard actions that gives an image the qualities of an oil painting. Simple process actions are easy to build, but it takes a lot of learning to fully take advantage of their possibilities.
All actions are listed in the Actions Catalog dialog box–organized like OS X’s columnar file browser–and you select them from an Actions Categories list.
The concept of actions is not only interesting but also incredibly useful. Its strength is that it lets you easily configure tools to suit your needs; its corresponding weakness is that you must understand how to configure actions to achieve what you want.
Layer upon Layer
TIFFany3 supports an unlimited number of layers and provides full control over transparency. You can drag layers from one document to another and even drag an image file from the Finder into an existing document, where it becomes a new layer in that document. An action applies only to the main layer, but managing layers is straightforward–you view all your layers in the Components Inspector window, where you control their visibility, and the Flatten tool merges visible layers. TIFFany3 automatically adjusts for differences in resolution, size, and color space. (It honors embedded ColorSync profiles for correct display but does not as yet let you select a profile for the output space–this is high on Caffeine’s list of priorities for a future revision.)
You can apply actions in a number of ways: to an entire layer, to a marquee selection, through a “bitmap marquee” (an arbitrary selection created by a mask action or by the magic-wand tool), or with the paintbrush tool. You can use either keyboard shortcuts or each action’s Intensity control to vary the intensity of the action.
In addition to the Intensity control, every action has Compositing settings that modulate how the action affects the pixels.
Each action also has a Channel Filtering setting for further customizing the action’s effect. In addition to choosing one of the primary channels (R, G, and B, or C, M, and Y), you can choose to affect only the hue, only the saturation, only the luminosity, the hue and saturation, or all three. Each Action Category also has slider controls. For example, the Brightness actions offer three sliders that let you adjust brightness, contrast, and midtones. The slider-based controls are intuitive, but you’ll have to consult the manual when you start exploring different compositing and blending options in depth.
Although actions offer tremendous capacity for layers, they lack the immediate interactivity of traditional image-editing tools. When you edit actions in TIFFany3, your only feedback is a too small proxy window that shows the action as it would apply to your entire image, not to the section you’ve selected. Essentially, you edit your image by trial and error until you increase your ability to predict results.
TIFFany3 offers flexible batch-processing features. The Document Manager lets you process many images, but unlike most batch processors, it lets you apply different actions to each image once you start the batch. To select the documents you want to include, you drag files or folders from the Finder into the Document Manager’s Documents column. You then select your documents and the action you want to apply, and click on the Apply button. (According to Caffeine Software, a server-based version is in the works.)
Macworld’s Buying Advice
The more experienced you are with conventional image-editing programs, the more challenging it may be to work the way TIFFany3 does. But if you need strong batch-processing capabilities, TIFFany3 Professional 3.5 is a real powerhouse. And if you’re looking only for an easy way to enhance images, the less-expensive TIFFany3 Basic ($333) is more than adequate, though it limits you to standard and mask actions.