Adobe may have moved towards a program of rolling updates with the Creative Cloud, but it continues to provide major upgrades – as with the 2014 edition of Photoshop CC. Among the new features are some very clever ways of working with type, more intelligent Smart Guides, and a couple of useful new blur filters.
Automatic Typekit fonts
A Creative Cloud membership gives you access to a huge range of Typekit fonts, both for web and desktop use. Now, if you open a file that contains fonts you don’t have installed, Photoshop will offer to install them for you automatically via a Resolve Missing Fonts dialog box.
Rollover font menus
Photoshop CC brought the ability to search for fonts by name, weight or style, simply by typing in the Font field. Now the 2014 update makes font selection even smoother. With a type object selected, rolling over each font in the drop-down Font menu in the Options bar will show the text set in that font on the fly, without having to select it. This makes font browsing a far quicker and more intuitive procedure.
Blur on a path
Two new Blur filters have been incorporated into Photoshop’s Blur Gallery, which offer far more flexibility and customisation than was previously possible. The Path Blur feature allows you to blur an object along a path: unlike its predecessor, Motion Blur, it also allows you to bend that path, to set relative ‘speeds’ at the start and finish, and to drag the blur around to exactly the position you want it. You can define multiple blur paths in a single document, which means you’re able to limit the extent of one blur by drawing a second, with zero blur, outside its sphere of influence.
Blur on an ellipse
The old Radial Blur filter was clumsy and hard to manage – but it was the only way to produce the effect of, say, spinning wheels. Now Spin Blur puts an end to the frustration with an extraordinary addition to the Blur Gallery. It places a circular blurred region over the image, which you can drag to any location using a full-screen preview. Drag a wheel in the center to vary the amount of blur, and drag handles near the edge to set the vignette-style fade-off of the blur.
The best feature, though, is that you can drag handles to change the shape from a circle to an ellipse, and rotate it to any angle you like. This means you can apply a blur to round objects viewed from any angle without having to copy them to a separate layer first.
Better still, both blurs now incorporate a strobe effect. You can set the number of repetitions, the intensity of the effect and even the length of the ‘flash’; the result is a far more convincing, and very much more controllable, radial blur.
Remove soft backgrounds
If you have an image photographed with a narrow depth of field, so that the background is out of focus, you can now extract the foreground objects using the Select > Focus Mask dialog. You can determine how much of the focal range is kept, and use the Focus Area Add Tool to paint in areas you want to keep – for instance, you can choose to include regions that are blurred because they’re right in the foreground, and lose those that are blurred because they’re in the background. Once a selection has been made, you can then jump straight into Refine Edge to tidy up the mask.
Focus Mask only works with images that show background lack of focus, but in these instances it works remarkably well – and the Add and Subtract tools make it easy to fix any anomalies right inside the dialog.
The Layer Comps feature has been in Photoshop for a long time, and it enables users to store multiple arrangements within the same document, logging layers’ visibility, position, and layer effects. It’s particularly useful for web designers, who can mock up multiple pages within a single Photoshop document.
In the past, if you changed a style on a layer, you’d have had to repeat that change on all the comps. Now, you can choose to update the effect on all selected comps, making the change simultaneously throughout the document. It’s not a major feature, but it does recognise the way Layer Comps are used.
Smart Guides are now turned on by default in Photoshop, and they allow objects to snap to each other and to document bounds. Now, Smart Guides automatically show the distance between objects as you drag one of them. If you have multiple, similar objects, such as four bars of a graph, then you can set the spacing you want between any pair, and as you drag the others they’ll now snap to that spacing without your having to specify that behavior.
And the rest…
3D printing continues to improve, with the new ability to preview repaired sections of meshes; there’s also a new ray-traced preview of models, which gives a much better impression of how the finished print will look.
The Content-Aware technology, available via the Fill, Move and Patch tools, have been refined to create smoother transitions in areas where gradients are present. And the ability to link Smart Objects to their original imported files, introduced in Photoshop CC, has been extended so that any placed object can now be retro-fitted to be a linked object, rather than an embedded one.