Creating a Panel
You create panels for Photoshop by using the Adobe Configurator software, which you'll need to download and install. Follow these steps to create your first panel:
- Download and install Adobe AIR (unless you already have it installed on your machine). Then go to the Adobe Labs website and download the Configurator program (see Figure 1).
- Launch Configurator (see Figure 2) and choose File > New Panel. As Figure 3 shows, Configurator will ask whether you want to create the new panel for Photoshop CS5 or for InDesign CS5. (This option is new to the CS5 suite.) We're creating this panel for Photoshop, so select Photoshop CS5 from the drop-down list.
- The great part about using panels is the ability to select items you want to include from the left side of the Configurator window. Click on the Tools drop-down so that all of the tools in the toolbar become available. Click on one of the tools that you want and drag it onto the panel that you're building in the center of the screen. As you start dragging, a series of guides help you to position the tools so that they land correctly.
- The Commands option, located directly under the Tools menu, replicates many of the commands in the Photoshop menu. Twirl the main drop-down to show the commands, and then drag the ones you need out onto the panel (see Figure 5).
- Once you have a series of elements in place, you're going to want to tidy up the overall area. Click on one of the tools that you placed on the panel. Holding down the Shift key, click on the other tools in the list. With all of the tools selected, drag to the right. As you drag toward the center, a center guide appears on the panel to help you position the tools. I like this feature because it lets you really clean up the look of the panel.
- Adjust the positions of the other sections of the panel as needed, until it looks just the way you want it.
Once you have the main screen set up, you'll be surprised by how easy panels are to use (see Figure 4). The right side of the document lets you give the panel a name and a starting size. (Later, you can drag the corners to adjust the width and height of the panel visually.) If you're code-inclined, you even have the option to set up a script that will perform some task automatically when the panel opens.
For me, this panel would be pretty complete, but I'd like to add some other cool components. Let's look at some of the options for improving your panels.