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Hmmm, let's see, ExpressKeys, the Touch Ring, the Side Switch, that's a lot of different ways to relive your keyboard of shortcut duty. Yet the keyboard remains the undisputed king of non-menu oriented workflow enhancement. Why? Well, as an example, there are a total of only 14 hardwired keyboard replacement options available on the popular medium-sized Intuos5, compared to the hundreds of possible combinations available on a standard keyboard.
While some folks thrive on keyboard shortcuts, myself included, they do require memorization of often arcane key combinations. This is where the Radial Menu comes into play, as we'll see. So to get started with the Radial Menu, we first need to assign a key to it, one of the ExpressKeys, so that we can call it up. So let's start with that, we'll jump over to our Wacom panel, and I want to go to my ExpressKeys, and in this case I'll just use this fourth key, the one that's immediately below the Radial Menu.
So we're going to go ahead and assign a key to that in here and I'm going to use this key that's immediately below the Touch Ring, so let's go here and go to Radial Menu, which is one of the default items they have here for you. Now that button will call up the Radial Menu in our application, and you always want to make sure you're in your application when you're in the Tablet Preferences. So, let's try this out. Here I am, and as I'm moving around and working on my screen, when I touch that key, I get the Radial Menu immediately below it.
And as you can see, it's comprised of eight little pie slices, each one having a function assigned to it. And so in the case of Brush Panel, for example, when I click that, it immediately brings it up. And so it's just a convenient way to quickly bring this up that might take a little more time, interface-wise, to move around and locate it and punch it up. So this is immediately useful for things that you want to get at, and especially things that might be buried in the menus, where you've got to take some time to go up, open a menu, drop down, maybe go through a submenu to get to it.
It's right at your cursor when you do it this way. I've assigned a few functions here myself. I actually had someone ask me this recently, about how can I get certain brush sizes consistently, and they weren't even thinking Radial Menu, but it struck me that the Radial Menu is an excellent way to do this. So I set up some keys where I can get a 10 pixel brush, I can get a 20 pixel brush, and I can call up a 30 pixel brush. So this gives a real easy way to do this.
The thing you want to eliminate here is all this traversal time, going up to a corner, punching something open and assigning that number to it, it takes time, and this is much more fluid. So we're going to take one of these, and I'm going to continue this, and let's do a 40 pixel brush, and I'll show you how I did it. What I have to do here is literally create a short action that encapsulates this function. So, we're going to go in here to our Actions. I'm going to create a New Action, and we'll call this Brush 40, and then this is where we assign some keyboard shortcuts to it.
So I'm going to use a Function key, in this case F4, and I'm also going to assign the Shift and Command key to it. So, that's done, now we have to actually do the recording. So when we hit Record, the only thing I need to do is go in here and set this to 40. Once I'm done with that, I can stop the recording, and I've now got that working. So now we have our action and we have a keyboard shortcut assigned to it. Let's jump back over to the Wacom Tablet panel, we'll go to Radial Menu, and we're going to take this one, it was set for email, which I would never use, so I'm going to go ahead here and I'm going to assign a keystroke to it.
I'm just going to give it Shift+Command+F4. We'll give it a name here, so it's just like we did before, we'll call it Brush 40, hit OK, and now that's set up. Now, once again, I can use my ExpressKey to call that up, go to Brush 40, well let's set it back Brush 10, for example, so that's the smaller brush. If I want a 40 pixel brush, I just click on that and now I have it. So this gives me the opportunity to quickly get these things at my cursor without having to do a lot of navigation to get to anything.
Now the last thing I do want to talk about is that in the Radial Menu one of the things you can do is you can create a Submenu. I'm not even going to go through doing it, but what it will create is yet another set of eight pie slices that will spawn from this one and you can assign more keyboard shortcuts to it. In fact, if you were crazy enough to do it, you could literally use submenu after submenu to eventually assign all the keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop to it.
However, think about that, you'd be having to drop down through multiple sub-levels to get to this command, and in effect you'd be killing your own efficiency because you're spending so much time in this menu system. So you want to think through what you assign here, and I would, as much as possible, refrain from trying to use submenus, because you will get yourself into a situation that is not going to be very efficient. The Radial Menu is a great tool for having several of an application's oft used commands at your fingertips.
But don't go overboard and try to assign too many using submenus. Doing so is bound to affect your workflow.
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