Adobe Photoshop CS5: What You Can Expect
When a software company releases a major update to its flagship software, it has to walk a tricky tightrope. On one hand, the upgrade needs new features that are high on the glitz scale to attract attention and generate buzz. On the other hand, the update should make existing features work better.
It’s time to put those two hands together and clap, because with the Photoshop CS5 update, Adobe delivers both glitz and practical improvements (what the Photoshop team calls “Just Do It” fixes).
Although CreativePro.com Senior Editor Ben Long has been using the CS5 beta for months, we won’t publish his review of Photoshop until he can test the finished code, which isn’t yet available. Look for his official review within a month. In the meantime, satisfy your thirst for information with this look at what’s new.
The new Content-Aware Fill matches the lighting, tone, and noise levels of surrounding areas as you retouch a photo; for example, as you remove a distracting telephone pole from a landscape shot. The results are therefore more accurate than in CS4 and CS3.
This is one of those “you have to see it to believe it” things, so click the image below to launch a video demonstration in a new window:
Even Adobe acknowledges that Content-Aware Fill doesn’t work perfectly on every image, but it’s by far the most sophisticated retouching technique I’ve ever seen in any software.
New Painting Capabilities
Adobe has significantly strengthened Photoshop CS5’s painting capabilities. People who rely on Corel Painter still may not find Photoshop an acceptable substitute, but the new features nonetheless yield more realistic results than previously possible in Photoshop (unless you’re, say, Bert Monroy).
The new Mixer Brush can hold multiple colors on a single tip, just like a traditional paintbrush, and those colors mix and blend with paint already on your canvas. You can even define how “wet” that existing paint is.
An interactive view of the new Bristle Tips shows you what individual brushes look like and how the bristles change depending on how much pressure you apply.
Click the image below to launch a video demonstration in a new window.
I won’t lie. Puppet Warp is going to lead to some downright ugly images. It lets you add control points to a selection; as you move those control points, the parts of the image attached to them move, too.
Some people will dismiss Puppet Warp as bling for bling’s sake, but it does have practical uses, such as removing distortion in a panoramic photo created by joining multiple frames. You just have to exercise control.
Click the image below to watch a video of Puppet Warp in action:
Better Selection Tools
One of the hallmarks of a Photoshop master is being able to create a mask that isolates a complex subject from a complex background, such as a photo of a woman with wispy hair against a leafy backdrop.
Photoshop CS5 just made that easier by redesigning the Refine Edge feature so that it better detects edges. Its increased intelligence includes a slider to “decontaminate colors” so you can more easily remove pesky fringing.
Click the image below to watch a video of the selection tool improvements:
Better HDR, Lens Correction, Raw Converter
As I mentioned earlier, we won’t publish Ben Long’s Photoshop CS5 review until he’s tested the final code. However, he did take a few minutes to share his impressions of the late beta he’s been working with.
“If you do lots of heavy image edits,” Ben says, “the new selection and content aware fill tools will be very welcome for those particularly complex composites and effects. But more impressive than these technologies are the number of features that photographers will use every day. For example, the new HDR features might well eliminate the need for third-party applications like Photomatix. Automatic lens correction offers greater efficiencies for users who routinely shoot with tricky, wide-angle lenses.
“But one of the features that may prove to be the most valuable is the new raw converter. Offering better image quality than its predecessors, some users might find it feels like they’ve gotten an upgrade to their camera hardware.
“Also of day-to-day value are workflow improvements such as the Mini Bridge. I’m really liking how quickly I can zip between images without having to leave Photoshop at all.”