With Adobe’s recent update to their Creative Cloud (CC) suite of applications, Photoshop got a major update. In this post certified Photoshop expert Eric Renno, aka TipSquirrel takes us through some of the major changes and highlights some of those little things that may have passed you by.

The first major change comes in the name; Photoshop CC now becomes Photoshop CC 2014. While not significant to many, so long as it’s up to date it doesn’t matter what it’s name is, to others that maintain systems or take the Adobe certification the annual rename means keeping up to date, and showing it becomes easier.

The list of upgrades to Photoshop is extensive with many features being part of the Just Do It (JDI) strategy. My pick of the major updates are:

Focus Mask

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Accessible from the ‘Select’ menu ‘Focus Mask’ analyses the image and selects what it believes is in focus. As you can see from the image above it does an amazing job with the sliders set to ‘Auto’ and I’ve found that only a tiny tweak, if any, is required.

You can add in and take out parts of the selection using a brush similar to the ‘Quick Selection’ Tool and you very quickly have a selection that’s ready to go. You can output your selection to a mask or even a new document, but the real power comes when you take this selection into ‘Refine Edge’.

Blur Gallery

The ‘Blur Gallery’ gets two new additions in this update, ‘Path’ and ‘Spin Blur’. ‘Path Blur’ allows you to set the direction and speed of the blur, much like ‘Motion Blur’. Unlike ‘Motion Blur’ however, the direction is one way and the speed can increase or decrease from start to finish. No need for masks either, you can add multiple paths including those with no blur.

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Anyone that’s used the radial blur will love the new Spin Blur. No more guessing where the centre is plus the spin amount can be added on the fly. Again multiple blurs can be added to a single image.

In the example above I’ve added several Path blurs and two radial blurs to make this car look like its in motion. Both these blurs can be added as a Smart Filter so tweaking them after is a breeze.

Smart Guides

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If you’ve used other CC apps like Illustrator or InDesign then Smart Guides will be nothing new to you. This feature, in my mind, is long over due in Photoshop. As you move a layer around the document Photoshop no gives you a heads-up display on where it is in relation to other layers.

Pressing the Ctrl key on a PC or the Cmd key on a Mac will also display how several layers align with each other, this is great if you use Photoshop for contact sheets or web design.

Fonts and Type Kit

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This CC update had the themes of ‘workflow’ and ‘integration’ about it and this is very prevalent in the way fonts are handled in Photoshop now. If you open an image that has a font that you don’t have on your system, Photoshop will whizz off to Typekit and find it, or a replacement.

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If you’ve ever gone through your fonts trying to find the right one, only to think that “an earlier one was better… but what was it?” then you’ll understand why this next feature made me so happy.

To see your text in a new font you just have to hover your mouse over the font name in the drop down list. It won’t change the font until you click down. Why wasn’t it always like that?

What’s Missing?

Photoshop no longer has any Flash based tool panels or dialogue boxes and this means we loose Oil Paint filter, not to everyone’s taste but it’s gone now. You’ll also notice that Mini Bridge has gone. I was no big fan of it unless I was demonstrating Photoshop but I know a lot of folks that will miss it.

Fear not, when you update Photoshop you’ll still have CC as well as CC 2014 so you’ll have a little while at least to morn the loss of some features.

Other New Features and Enhancements

Among the new features are:

  • Improved Layer Comps (sync comps, select displayed comps in Smart Objects, new icons in panel to show what is tracked)
  • Smart Objects improvements (Convert Embedded to Linked, Package Linked SO)
  • Enhanced Content-Aware technology with Color Blending (better color and gradient blending, up to 400% faster)
  • Expanded 3D printing capabilities (wider printer support, print in multi-tone, view mesh repair)
  • Improved brush strokes and expanded stylus support on Windows 8
  • Improved Mercury Graphic Engine (OpenCL for Upsampling)
  • Ability to export to a subfolder through Generator
  • Layer Copy CSS now supports Inner Shadow layer effects
  • Spectrum color picker in the Color Panel is now resizeable
  • New Hue and Brightness color picker cubes in Color Panel
  • Added ability to export 3D LUTs
  • Allow gradients with a single stop (saved single stop gradients will not work with previous Photoshop versions)

And much more.

Mobile Apps

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Not Forgetting Four New iPad Apps. Adobe have done their research and ‘the vast’ majority of creative are using Apple devices, no there’s no Android equivalent at present.

Hardware

And finally, Adobe Ink and Slide a pen and ruler for your iPad that work great with Sketch and Line.

Many thanks to Eric for this exciting update! For more updates be sure to check out his website, Facebook and Twitter page