Adobe’s much-anticipated Photoshop CS6 is finally here. Having now upgraded to CS6 in the office, we can say that so far it looks to be a great upgrade, with lots of new features to be excited about. A few red herrings have been thrown in for good measure, such as the Content Aware Move tool, and at first glance you’ll notice the shiny new charcoal interface among the many Photoshop CS6 new features.
But the key changes and new features are more deeply rooted. While there have been lots of tweaks to regular tools, you’ll also notice the addition of a few new ones too, such as the Tilt-Shift Blur function.
Behind-the-scenes performance has been given a big boost, too, with the introduction of the Mercury Graphics engine, which will speed up your workflow.
Here, we take a brief look at half a dozen Photoshop CS6 new features and explain how they work.
Photoshop CS6 New Features: Adobe Camera Raw
Adobe’s Camera Raw engine is now at ACR 7, and the combination of the Brightness and Exposure scales into one Exposure slider makes life easier. The new Highlights and Shadows sliders mean you can eke out more image detail without that HDR-like look. The Adjustment Brush can now selectively tweak White Balance, too.
Photoshop CS6 New Features: New interface
The first thing you’ll notice when you open an image is the overhaul the Photoshop screen has undergone. It’s now a charcoal grey. Other changes to the layout, panels and tools are logical. Mini Bridge, introduced in CS5, seems to work properly this time round, and should be a big help to workflow.
Photoshop CS6 New Features: Blur filters
Go to the Filter dropdown and you’ll see that the tools have had a welcome clean-up. Field, Iris and Tilt-Shift Blur filters have been introduced, and these come with ‘on image’ controls so you can tweak the planes of focus for toytown effects. The intuitive controls mean you don’t even need to take your eyes off the image.
Photoshop CS6 New Features: Crop tool
The revamped crop tool offers the same crop function as in Lightroom 4, with the image rotating and the crop marks staying static. The non-destructive editing system takes a bit of getting used to, but once mastered its useful Rule of Thirds and Golden Spiral grids will be handy if you don’t get composition right first time.
Photoshop CS6 New Features: Behind the scenes
Adobe has introduced the Mercury Graphics engine for CS6, so certain tools and functions make greater use of your computer’s graphics card. With the previously sluggish Liquify tool, for example, there’s no lag. The Background Save feature is also surprisingly useful, allowing you to start other projects as a file is saved.
Photoshop CS6 New Features: Content Aware Move
Content Aware Move, nestled with the Patch and Healing tools in the Tools panel, is meant to allow you to move an object from one part of an image to another. However, it seemed to work well in the Adobe demos but not with the images we tried. Otherwise, carry on shooting with the elements in the right place to start with.