Automation with SimpelFilter plugins

Most imaging programs offer functionalities for automatized treatment of several opened images or even whole folders of images with the same settings. In Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro, for example, you can save processing steps as an action, only in Photoshop you can apply many filters "non-destructive" as Smart Filters to special layers (Smart Objects). From SimpleFilter versions 3.5, special scripting versions are available, that can be used, inter alia, as a Smart Filter. The even longer available automatic versions of the filters can not be used as Smart Filters, but offer other advantages.

Scripting Versions

In the download package of the most SimpelFilter there are two filters: a "normal" and a "scripting" version. You can install the desired or both (the license is valid for both versions). After installation, you can find the scripting version in the Filter submenu "SimpelFilter (Scripting)". These filters can be used as Smart Filters (on Smart Objects in Photoshop) and in Photoshop Actions. The settings remain stored in the long run, but can also be changed later (non-destructive image editing).

Unfortunately, the Photoshop plug-in interface does not support some functions of the SimpelFilter, therefore, the scripting versions have some limitations. The most important: There are no combinations of variants are possible. The corresponding check box and the list of blending modes are hidden. Furthermore, the description line is hidden, because there registered texts can not be saved.

Auto Versions

The for a long time available auto-versions of the simple filters were intended once as a "Workaround" for the Scripting functionality available not yet at that time. They can be integrated in Photoshop Actions (and also in suitable actions of other programs), but not used as a Smart Filter. They work "invisibly" (without dialog) and get the settings from a setting file which was automatically stored with the last application of the accompanying main filter. Because (as said) the scripting versions do not support some functions, the auto versions still have her authorization. Installation and use are explained below using the filter SF Maskerade and Photoshop

Installation of the filters


Please note that the automation version will only work if the main filter is installed and licensed correctly. Without Licensing the main filter the automation filter will abort with an error message.

Download the automation version of the filter, unzip it and move the filter file (suffix .8bf) into the plugin directory of your imaging application, for example Adobe\Photoshop\Plug-Ins. Restart your imaging program after that. After the restart a new filter item with the addition of (auto) should appear in the filter or effects menu in the submenu SimpelFilter.

Saving the settings file

The settings file can only be saved from within the main filter. Open an image, then the main filter and change the settings to your likings. Now click the OK button. This stores all filter settings and variants. In every future start the automation version applies the saved settings on the active image..

Embedding the automation version into an action

SF PS Action

For an automatized workflow the automation version has to be embedded into an action. Open the actions palette in Photoshop, choose New action and change the name of the action in the window that pops up. Here you can also choose a function key and a color associated with the action. After clicking Action you will find yourself in capture mode. Now you can start the automation version of the filter. It should work now without giving an error message. Stop capturing by clicking on the little gray square in the actions palette.

By playing the action you can now apply the filter automatically on any opened image - for example by pressing the associated F key of the action. In order to apply the filter to several images or folders at once you have to do one more step in Photoshop.

Batch processing of images

SF batch dialog

In Photoshop's file menu, select the menu item Automate>Batch processing. A dialog window appears. Under Execute select the action you just created, under Source the images that you want to apply the filter to - i.e. all images that are currently open or a folder of images on the hard-disk. In the other settings you can decide how the treated images are to be saved or what should be done in error cases. Start the batch process with OK.

Creating layer masks with SF Maskerade and Photoshop Actions

Not a plugin can create a layer mask directly. But you can do this by hand or with a script or action. On this page you find a Photoshop action set for SF Maskerade. The actions create a layer mask with SF Maskerade automatically.

Download the file and unzip it. Then open photoshop, go into the actions palette, here open the menu (small box or triangel in the upper right corner), select "load action", switch to the location of the action file (suffix ATN) and load it. Alternativly you can drag the file from the explorer into the Photoshop action palette. After this you will find a new entry in the action palette "SimpelFilter". Below this entry are two actions:

SF Maskerade layer mask: This starts the plugin, you can make the settings you like. After OK the result is created as a layer mask to the current layer.

SF Maskerade layer mask (auto): This works only if you have installed the "auto" version of SF Maskerade too. If you start the action, the layer mask is created with the last Maskerade settings, but without any interaction with you.

Please note that both actions not work with background layers, but with normal layers (you have to convert or duplicate the background layer).

Why more filters?

A filter that is started from within an action or a script is normally controlled by the main program (the host) in a way that no dialog window appears during the batch process; the settings are passed to the filter by the host. This function is not supported by the programming software with which SimpelFilter is written (FilterMeister) until filter version 3.3. Therefore two filters are necessary, one with, one without dialog and the settings have to be passed on with the help of a file. In practice, this is no defect; on the contrary: If you use two imaging programs that support plug-ins (like Photoshop and Photoshop Elements) you can open them simultaneously, change and save your settings in one of them and immediately start the batch process on a pile of images in the other.

Even after the introduction of scripting-enabled filter versions (Version 3.5), the "auto" versions have their merits, because it allows you to combine multiple setting variations within a filter meeting (an example, see the maskerade tutorial page). Such combinations are not supported by the scripting variant of the filter.

Managing settings

The automation version always uses the last applied settings of the main version of the filter. You can often needed settings create as variants and save them with Alt + S into one normal settings file. If you need a specific setting, you can load this file with Alt + L into the main filter, select the variant you need and save the settings by applying the filter.