PHOTOSHOP CS6! Well that was an easy intro. A few days ago we reviewed Illustrator CS6, and now, for the second part of the CS6 reviews we’ll be taking you through the new and updated features in Photoshop. Before we get started I’m going to cut your hopes and dreams down – there is no ‘Deblur’ feature. Sorry, I’d say that one is a little way off yet.
If you don’t know what Photoshop is… you are probably in the wrong cinema… Photoshop is the most used Adobe program, the go-to program for just about any creative. It’s used for a variety of things like photo editing, digital illustration, visual web layout and now apparently video editing. It’s used by photographers, designers, artists, everyone on the internet and probably your mum. So with all these different people using it for different purposes wouldn’t it be limited when it comes to the specifics? Not really, not at all. It very much depends on the application but Photoshop has one of the biggest teams in Adobe working hard to ensure that everyone can use it for almost anything digital that they’ll do.
Photoshop CS5 was a pretty big update; we got to see the true potential of the ‘Content-Aware’ tools, the very clever ‘Puppet Warp’ tool, some pretty powerful noise reduction tools in Camera Raw and some handy HDR processes. I’m sorry to say that this update doesn’t have too many new tools… It seems to be more of a back end update, making everything run a little better and optimising what was already there to suit different applications. There are a few things that may cause a little excitement, but for the most part Photoshop CS6 will just help you a little more than it did in the last update.
Like the last review I’ll go through all the fairly boring things first, in the form of a handy list…
- Dark UI
Pretty much the same as Illustrator, now the entire user interface is darker… although unlike Illustrator there is no slider bar to adjust brightness, there are just four preset shades of grey to chose from.
- Background Save and Auto-Recovery
This is a nice feature, basically just means no more total freak outs when a crash happens. Photoshop CS6 now does background save all the time (I set it to every five minutes), if you need to do an Auto-Recovery it will go from the last background save. Alternatively if you just manually open a file it will revert to the last time you saved it.
- Updated Design Tools
This guy claims that the new Photoshop CS6 has 60% more feature changes then CS5, I’m betting the majority of these changes will be slight updates to design tools. Some of the more obvious changes are to things such as text, vector and layer filtering. They’ve added in character and paragraph styles, like that of InDesign. Don’t get all ‘hatey’ too quickly about this one, they do have a good example for the purpose. As most of you will know doing website mockups in Photoshop is very commonplace; before CS6 most of us were thinking, “Gosh it would be good to have some sort of tool to keep my headers, sub-headers and body copy consistent…” Once again Photoshop to the rescue, thanks for saving us a little time guys.
- Skin Tone-Aware Selection and Mask
Some nice new programming allows for selection and masking of skin tone, allowing you to adjust separate elements without messing up the model. The selections can be further refined using some nice Facial-Detection options.
- Upgraded Auto Settings
Just about every ‘Auto’ option has been updated with new programming to give your images a quick accurate enhancement. The Auto Tone, Auto Colour and Auto Contrast all work well to quickly remove some of the flatness that unedited images have and the Auto Levels provides a great starting point for level refinement.
- Video Editing
Premier Pro in Photoshop? Well not quite… but the basics are in there. Now you can go all ‘George Lucas’ with cross fades all within the boundaries of Photoshop CS6. The new video editing capabilities of Photoshop CS6 are very basic but quick and easy to use. Let’s just say you won’t be creating the next The Avengers movie in Photoshop, but you might be able to chuck a few draft comps together to see what is going to work for a real edit.
- 3D Tool (Photoshop CS6 Extended only)
At first I was doubtful the new 3D tool could be any good… but once opening it up and having a quick play my thoughts changed. It brought back some good memories of Autodesk 3Ds Max. It’s powerful, so much more advanced than the previous 3D tools in Photoshop or even Illustrator. I do think that the power of this new tool is not such a good thing… 3D is not what Photoshop does, 3D isn’t the primary function and therefore this tool is too advanced to be a part of Photoshop (just a warning: make sure you know what you are doing before you click the ‘Render’ button… three hours to render some simple extruded text is a joke and to put the icing on the cake there is no obvious way to stop a render once started).
- Heads Up Display (HUD)
This I like! They have added in a new HUD (Heads Up Display) around the cursor within Photoshop. It’s subtle and very handy. The best thing about it is that the function of the HUD changes depending on the situation – if you are moving a selection it will show dimensions or if you are rotating it will show angle. But the coolest is the new tool specific functions like the new blur tools, but you’ll have to wait a little bit before I show them to you.
To show some of the better features I’ll go through the process of editing a picture. Let’s start in the new Camera Raw 7, the very place most of your photo editing will start. Like I said, for the beginning stages they have not added too many new features, just enhancements, the same goes for Camera Raw 7. They have renamed and changed a few of the sliders for better understanding and better control. The exposure slider is now the main control for brightness of an image, the ‘Fill-light’ and ‘Recovery’ sliders have been renamed simply to Highlights and Shadows. Overall the sliders seem to be a little more intuitive and the algorithm behind them seems to work a little better. One of the biggest things Camera Raw ever had was the ability to create selective enhancements to photos using the Adjustment Brush. Now with Camera Raw 7 you can apply noise reduction, moire reduction, temperature and tint enhancements with the selective power of the Adjustment Brush.
The crop tool has had a major overhaul, at first it’s a little… disorientating, but after no time at all you’ll begin to wonder why it never worked this way in the first place! If you don’t like using it the new way you can always click the ‘Use Classic Mode’ tick box under the crop specific options. I recommend giving it a little time to grow on you however. They have also added a bunch of new crop overlay guides, like the golden ratio, some nice diagonal and triangular grids and the golden spiral. It looks like they have taken out the ‘Perspective’ crop option and given it a stand alone tool.
You may have noticed that I cropped to a larger size then the image in this example, I figured this was a good opportunity to try out the Content-Aware updates. For this picture the Content-Aware Move tool is perfect, you can find it under the Spot Heal tool tab. To move the background trees all I had to do was draw a selection around them and move, the Content-Aware did the rest!
One of the big features is the addition of the Adaptive Wide Angle Adjustments filter. Intended for use on wide angle panoramas to fix the warping you get with horizontal lines, like power lines etc, or just to straighten up parts of an image in a more dynamic way.
The last big feature I’ll talk about is the addition of three new blur filters. Field Blur, Iris Blur and Tilt-Shift, so now we can all be rad hipsters. No no, I kid, I’m sure if used in the right situation and most of the time with moderation they will come in very handy for speedy editing. The best part about them I think is the custom HUD for each, very easy to use. The most versatile of the three that I can see so far is the Field Blur, you can add multiple pins, each with varying amounts of blur and get some very interesting results.
Well that brings us to the end of another review. I don’t have too much to say about what they could have had in this update, other than the obvious statement “Where is the deblur tool!?” I’m hoping that now with the Creative Cloud integration they will send through function updates and additions as they are developed. Probably just a pipe dream? Overall it’s a nice update, but really that’s all it is… an update, there seems to be no real innovation this time round and that’s okay. It’s the program we have all grown to love, but a little better.