NKS5 – Essential Media Toolkit for Photoshop CS5+

Jun 02

NKS5 is a custom toolkit for Adobe Photoshop CS5+ that provides a basic set of drawing, painting, texturing and production tools in an attractive, easy to use palette. NKS5 is currently a donationware project, so if you’re pro and it’s helping or if you just want to see more projects like this come about please consider making a donation below. Contributors will receive download links as they’re available along with early access to future extensions.

54 Responses to “NKS5 – Essential Media Toolkit for Photoshop CS5+”

  1. Niles says:

    This is a fantastic plugin! It’s almost a replacement for painter to me. (I am much more comfortable in Photoshop)
    There’s just one thing that would really sell the natural media, at least for solid ones. Some kind of absolute pressure to opacity value generation. Photoshop normally layers opacity per stroke and it’s not a very good representation of pastels or charcoal. Do you have any idea if this is possible for a plugin, or should I be knocking on Adobe’s door?
    Thanks for this creation of yours, it will be extremely useful!

  2. gregory says:

    Nice work! I like the packaging and the presets :)
    We need to have more of this!! :D

  3. nkurence says:

    @Niles – Thanks for the nice report! That’s a bit the goal ;) Regarding the stroke function, I know just what you mean; it’s a bit of a struggle to tune some of the tools properly with the current controls. I’ll definitely keep at it as there’s always room for improvement, but if you have suggestions for Adobe definitely send them in–I would love to see expanded brush mechanics. Been asking for realtime js expression-based control for some time.

    @gregory – Glad to hear it! I’m definitely interested in building add-ons and other modules. If there’s specific workflows or tools your interested in feel free to be in touch.

  4. mykhel says:

    Amazing effort. Thank you. Keep up the excellent work.

  5. Trave says:

    Awesome. I especially dig the spray-paint tool.

  6. Bloax says:

    I can definitely say this is really useful, though I’m a bit annoyed I don’t know if there’s a way to manually install this.

    But I’ll go ahead and say that this stuff is great for spriting!
    For some examples, look at the background noisiness of this:

    And the roughness of the tree bark in this sprite was done with the old ink pen. (Great, but situational tool):

    But yeah, thanks for the free bag of goodies. :-)

  7. 3dgeek says:

    I cannot get the plugin to do anything. It installs without issue, I see it in PS6 (Win 7 64bit, CS6 64bit) but clicking on an icon does nothing. Any idea why? Thank you, it looks like a great plugin!

  8. nkurence says:

    @ 3dgeek – After installing the zxp there are two additional steps required to complete installation.

    1. Go to the Scripts menu in Photoshop and select ‘NKS5_Install’
    2. Open the Tool Presets panel in Photoshop and make sure the checkbox ‘Current Tool Only’ is not checked

    If you have any trouble after that please post back.

  9. TonyO says:

    thank you so much for this!will def make a donation soon!

  10. Bob says:

    I cannot get the plugin to install on mac. After I install through extension manager it does not show in the script menu.

    Any help?

  11. Ivan says:

    Thanks very much.. it might be very usefull, but… i got PS cs6 installed om my computer and when try to install NKS5 appears “this extension can not be installed, it requires Photoshop version 12.0 or greater”
    Any clue?
    PS is not installed on drive C:.. is this a problem?

  12. mizuko says:

    Thanks for sharing your Photoshop extension, looks very useful!, I’m going to try it now :)

  13. nkurence says:

    @ Bob – Hmm! No I haven’t seen that behaviour before. Have you restarted Photoshop since the installation? One thing to be mindful of is that there’s a unique Extension Manager for each version of Creative Suite. So if you have multiple CS versions installed you need to be conscious of which Extension Manager your installing to vs. which app version you’re launching (I’ve installed things to CS5 and then launched CS6 and scratched my head a few times).

    Any rate, if you restart PS and the script is still unavailable do me a favor and check and see if these files exist:

    Adobe Photoshop CS# / Presets / Actions / NKS5.atn
    Adobe Photoshop CS# / Presets / Patterns / NKS5.pat
    Adobe Photoshop CS# / Presets / Scripts / NKS5_Install.jsx
    Adobe Photoshop CS# / Presets / Tools / NKS5.tpl

    The NKS5_Install script is used to install the action, pattern and tool files listed above. You can load them manually, the script is merely a one-click way to do it that doesn’t require drudging through files.

    If the files aren’t there please try deinstalling the zxp from extension builder and reinstalling it.
    If that doesn’t do it let me know :)

  14. nkurence says:

    @ Ivan – Not sure on that one.. have you been able to install any other .zxp extensions for Photoshop CS6 with your current install?
    I’m trying to isolate the issue, if it’s something specific to the PS installation or if it’s specific to the extension.

    Let me know!

  15. Anselmo says:

    @ Ivan – maybe you also have an adobe software of a different version installed in your computer besides the CS6.

    You may have to open the “NKS5.zxp” using the Adobe Extension Manager which has the same version as your Photoshop.
    I have Photoshop CS5 and another adobe software of version 5.5. When I tried to install that, I received the same message as you did, because the extension manager that was being used was the 5.5.

    To install “NKS5.zxp”, I had to drag its file and drop it on the “Adobe Extension Manager CS5.exe” file (the same version as my PS). This worked for me!

  16. John says:


    Looks good, installs as per instructions, have followed all the help and tips above and it sits there looking very pretty, but does nothing!

    Using CS6 and installed with CS6 Extension Manager, tools preset unchecked etc.

    Any other suggestions?


  17. nkurence says:

    @ John – Sounds like the install script hasn’t been executed. Please confirm that you’ve executed the NKS5_Install script from within the script menu in Photoshop.
    If that doesn’t work for some reason you can also manually install the preset libraries, their locations are as follows:

    Adobe Photoshop CS# / Presets / Actions / NKS5.atn
    Adobe Photoshop CS# / Presets / Patterns / NKS5.pat
    Adobe Photoshop CS# / Presets / Tools / NKS5.tpl

  18. John... says:

    This is insane, thanks a lot for this tool!
    I’ve installed it, and I’ve already started to play with.
    Just a little question, I know it’s nothing but, the “close button”, is not on the good side for me, so I’ve this white bar all along the right of the box. Not very sexy uh? Is there a reason for that? ^^

    Here is the screenshot : https://dl.dropbox.com/u/74032860/toolbar.jpg

  19. nkurence says:

    @ John… – No, that’s not so pretty is it. The panel size is hard coded in the extension so it ‘should’ render properly. There appear to be some external things that influence the window size on these palettes however. I had contact from someone who identified ‘windowblinds’ as causing this issue on his machine (win7/64). The only other experience I’ve had with this is with some Configurator palettes, the behavior would be different on two identical machines (OSX) and I could never sort out why – same config, same software footprint.. really weird.

    I wish I had some surefire advice for you, but I’ve only some disparate experiences with that one and no clear causation – my best advice is to deinstall and reinstall the zxp and then restart everything. I know that’s not much to go on, sorry about that.

    Please keep me updated.

  20. John... says:

    I’ll try to reinstall it, thanks for your answer anyway. And… Yes, I’m running on Win7/64 too.

  21. Sino says:

    great tools!! the toolkit works perfectly on pc! but I cant install it on mac, it shows “the extension kniss does not contain valid signature. the extension wil not be installed” , and I am sure that I install it with the mac version installer, and my photoshop is 5.1 on 64bit , thanks !

  22. Charlie says:

    Looks like a really nice addition to PS. Thanks for making this. I do think it would be good if it also had some ‘oil brushes’ aka some presets that use the new mixer brush. Cheers.

  23. New toys! « Sophy's world of art. says:

    [...] and discover their potential. I think you should do it too! Check out the information video and download the plug in on the website, and go [...]

  24. D_G says:

    I just want to say thank you!

  25. nkurence says:

    @ Sino – I’ve heard of a similar issue but on a Windows system, maybe you aren’t logged in as an administrator? Guess I need to buy a digital cert eh :)

    @ Charlie – Good point; I’ll include them in the next version. Should probably add a canvas material document as well, then. Thanks for the suggestion.

    @ D_G – You’re welcome!

  26. nkurence says:

    Someone posted on YouTube about trouble with the Spectra and Smoker brushes, I thought I’d repost the response here as it may be useful:

    ‘For the spectra brush to work well you need to be on a transparent layer, highly saturated colors work the best — the result is basically a glitch as far as I can tell, extrapolating colors by burning against transparency.

    You can’t tell from the video but the Smoker brush is applied much the way you’d use a stippling technique, a lot of clicks. Each click adds a small bit of color, then you click-drag to smear it.’

    On another note, if you want to customize a tool you can easily do so by modifying the corresponding Tool Preset. e.g. if you want the Markers to use your fg color instead of grey, or if you want a different default tip size etc.. Select the tool, make your changes, delete the tool preset and create a new one with the same name. When you create a Tool Preset there’s a checkbox for ‘Include Color’, leave it unchecked if you want the tool to use your current fg color.

  27. Christina. « Sophy's world of art. says:

    [...] I’ve been playing with my new toys today. I decided to stay within my comfort zone and play around with the pencil tools, lead H3 and Lead B3. So much fun! It took me a while to really get into it, but after a couple of attempts I finally seemed to get the hang of it. These tools are much more pressure sensitive than the regular Photoshop tools, so it was a bit tricky, but after experimenting a bit with opacity and flow it was pretty easy. If you want to try this yourself, head over to Natural Media Toolkit and download it for free. [...]

  28. erika says:

    I think im having the same problem as Bob with my mac. When i open and run the extension there doesn’t seem to be any plugin to install and it doesn’t show up in my photoshop’s script menu.
    I’ve tried to uninstall it and then reinstall it and nothing changed.

    It looks amazing btw, i really hope i can get it working soon

  29. Photoshop: NKS5 Natural Media Toolkit - ZEICHENZIEL.de says:

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  30. nkurence says:

    @ erika – thanks for posting, will follow up with you in email

  31. Mortem88 says:

    This Might be a stupid question, but how do you get the little Icon previews?
    I just get the names showing in the Tool presets, not the icons. I’m fairly new to adding scripts or external addons.


  32. JOHN says:


    Finally got NKS5 installed and running, but I promptly lost all my colors. I have black, white and grey regardless of which tool I try to use from NKS5 or CS6.

    Tried to uninstall, but found that NKS5 is not listed anywhere for a program to even attempt to uninstall it!!

  33. nkurence says:

    @ Mortem88 – select Photoshop / Windows / Extensions / NKS5 to launch the palette

    @ JOHN – Sounds like your documents color profile is set to greyscale, can you verify that you’re working in a color doc? If you want to deinstall the extension it’s quite straight-forward, simply launch Extension Manager, select Photoshop from the list on the left, select NKS5 from the list on the right and click the REMOVE button.

  34. Mortem88 says:

    @ Nkurence: Thanks so much! Awesome tool

  35. cynthia d says:

    Thank you so Much for your quick response and IT works!…I am so excited.


  36. CuberToy says:

    Hi there !
    Really great extension ! But here’s my problem…
    Some tool don’t work and I really can’t tell why (Push for exemple). Plus when I select them, I can’t use them immediately, I must select another tool from the original menu (for exemple, I can’t use Blur or Blend immediately, but have to select Smudge/Blur/Spong from photoshop and then select the one from your toolbar). Weird…

    Anyway, great tool, really usefull.

    I’ll continue to use them as long as searching why they don’t work correctly (CS6).

  37. Marcel says:

    Fantastic tool! Love it! Thank you so much!
    How do you create this Panel? I mean, do you use Configurator or wich software?

  38. nkurence says:

    @ CuberToy – Open up your Tool Presets palette and uncheck ‘Current Tool Only’ at the bottom. I have this documented in the install guide pdf in the zip and in the install video here but seems to be a common issue still (thankfully an easy one to resolve!) Enjoy!

  39. nkurence says:

    @ Marcel – You’re welcome :) Configurator is a great tool and it’s definitely what got me started but it in the end it was too shallow to do what I was after. I’m using Flash Builder with the Extension Builder tools from Adobe here. It’s working for the moment but there are things I want to do still which may require native development and some parts of the install process/end user experience that I’m not satisfied with. Any rate just google up Extension Builder and I’m sure you’ll find loads!

  40. Marina says:

    It’s biautifull! This toolkit was my dream many time! &-)
    Big kiss! ;-)
    I’ll try to dotate something after 1-2 weeks! I’s pity I haven’t money now :-(

  41. Daniel Presedo says:

    Fantastic work!

    However, the extension does not seem to work, 90 % of it anyway in CS6.

    Would like to help you get this working on a current version of Photoshop. Send me an email.

  42. Daniel Presedo says:

    I take that back it does work, but you need to manually add the Actions, Patterns, and Tool Presets to each Panel.

    Might be a bug here somewhere.

  43. NK tools « Uklaworld says:

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  44. John Nack on Adobe : NKS5 Natural Media Toolkit for Photoshop says:

    [...] haven’t gotten to try it out, but the NKS5 Natural Media Toolkit for Photoshop CS5/CS6 looks interesting: NKS5 is a custom toolkit for Adobe Photoshop CS5, CS5.5 and CS6. It [...]

  45. Stéphane Baril says:

    Hi nkurence,

    I’d just try your extension en PsCS6 mac French version and that doesn’t work properly :(
    The issue is on your Scripts (atn).
    To work fine in any language, you need to rename all your layer just after their creation.
    Then, when you select it in future it’s not “Layer 1″ by default but your named layer.
    To remember, in French “Layer 1″ is “Calque 1″ and different name in other language, so your Script is dependent to this default naming if you don’t rename your layer :(

    I’d create lot of panel with Configurator, so if you need some feedback or advices, feel free to email me.

    BTW, great work (in English version which I’d also test)

  46. greg geisler says:

    Brilliant work! Been wanting something like this for years. Bravo.

    Quick first sketch:

  47. Mel says:

    This is really first-class software that is definitely a keeper! When selecting tools, you present a cyan frame to denote the selection. Could you make that frame sticky, to make it easy to find the tool again?

  48. Su Hall says:

    Now that I have learned a lot more about PS, this actually makes sense to me! LOL If I am correct, it’s going to be an awesome addition to my work/play. I’m into digital art and scrapbooking. Thank you very much!


  49. nkurence says:

    @ Marina – thanks!

    @ Stéphane – thanks so much for pointing that out, I’ll make sure it’s corrected for in the next iteration

    @ Greg – Thanks for the donation + great work!

    @ Mel – so is it that you’re looking for something to highlight the last tool used?

    @ Su – you’re welcome!

  50. Mel says:

    @ nkurence – Yes, exactly. Currently, I test a tool on a blank document, like it, and then want to use it on another layer or document. When several tools yield similar results, I may, for example, wonder whether I am using the Airbrush, Spray Paint, or Powder Coat. I then may have to try several tools to identify the correct one. If the last tool used could remain highlighted, making a mental or written note of it would be so easy! Thanks for considering my suggestion.

  51. Tourmaline says:

    Thanks so much for this really useful tool. Finally natural media in photoshop.

  52. Pat says:

    Thank-you for generously sharing your talent and time and program!!

  53. Nick Pudar says:

    Am trying to install. I have CS5, and following instructions in the Users Guide. However, I get a message from the Adobe Extension Manager during the installation process that reads: “You do not have the appropriate permission required to perform this operation. Contact your system administrator to obtain permission.” Well, I am the only user account on the computer, and I do have Administrator rights, so I do not really know what to do. the extension installation appears to proceed, but then the rest of the User Guide instructions do not work. Any suggestions?

  54. nkurence says:

    @ Nick – Are you on OSX 10.7 by any chance? There’s a known bug with extension manager and it sounds like this may be the problem. There’s an update to extension manager available here: http://blogs.adobe.com/cssdk/2011/12/fix-for-extension-signature-bug-on-mac-os-10-7-patch-posted.html

    If that doesn’t work give me a mail and I’ll try to help you sort things out.

    I encourage anyone else having trouble installing the zxp to see if there are available updates for Extension Manager as that seems to be a persistent pain point for users I’m emailing with.

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