Acorn 3: Layer Styles Acorn 3 does layer styles right. To begin with, its layer styles cover pretty much all the obvious suspects e. Want to bevel a layer? Want to blur it? Layer style.
If you choose the Spot Healing Brush tool you can now switch from the standard Proximity Match to the new Content-Aware option and start to use Adobe's proud development. Content Aware Performance This Content Aware feature allows you to paint over any content you don't want and fill the chosen area with matching pixels automatically sampled from multiple areas around to give an intelligent seamless heal.
Well that's what all the leaked promotional videos show, which could save us hours of complex editing using the heal or patch tools. A distracting tree, rubbish in the landscape, unwanted posts, skin blemishes can be eradicated at the drag of a brush. Where the heal tool often became confused and added a blurred messy patch, the Content Aware tool promises to leaves us with perfection. Well let's see. I used an image that has various areas that we can test the effectiveness of the tool on. Firstly a simple iron post removal.
Using the Spot Healing Brush tool I painted over the post. I did what I would always do and choose a brush size larger than the area I wanted to remove. I also set it to a large feather as this generally smooths out areas better. Not in this case. See the before and after illustration below left. I found you need to set a smaller brush and a hard edge to make the fill work better and on this post it's truly worked like magic below right and much faster and more precise than with CS4's tools.
So far, so good. A soft brush is not a good idea. A hard edge brush does a much better job. The same can't be said about more complicated areas. Here the videos and guides suggest you make a selection around any area you want to remove and with the selection active go to fill and choose the new Content Aware option from the dropdown. As you'll see from the following four illustrations, the tool is clearly very much hit and miss. It's working really well here. The sign has been removed and the wall replaced and aligned well.
Quick and easy! What seems like a simple fix, like the one to the left, has been totally misunderstood. You'd need to skip and do manually. Oh dear, what was it thinking! Another seemingly simple fix messed up. So, in summary, the new Content Aware fill will certainly do a better job for those who cannot clone to save their lives, but maybe they're the sort who will be buying Photoshop Elements not CS5.
For CS5 customers you'll need to use wisely, just like you currently have to do when using the Heal or Patch tools. It's not quite the shining star I'd been lead to believe.
Hopefully CS6 will have a turbo charged version that learns from all the feedback Adobe will receive about this version.
Now Edge Detection with Smart Radius does a better job of working out what you're actually trying to select and with stuff like fur and hair it makes the job much easier.
Look at how it has picked out the fine hair. Added to this is the Decontaminate colours option with a slider to really fine tune edge selections. Full marks for this feature and one that, when grasped, will make light work of selections.
On the shot below you can see how powerful the feature is. Taking an originally underexposed shot and turning it into a typical highly processed HDR tone mapped shot. HDR Pro takes on Photomatix in offering full blending of multiple exposures to create one extended tone photo. Images can be brought in through Mini Bridge and a Deghosting option helps improve shots where there has been some subject movement by giving priority to one source image over another.
This is all good news for photographers who like to record difficult scenes such as interiors with windows or landscapes with bright skies. You can bend and shape pixels as much as you like with this tool using anchor points to fix or move areas. It's probably more for graphic designers and image compositors, but it may come in useful for photographic projects where some shape shifting is required. Eyedropper In the eyedropper section is a new Count tool. This lets you add any number of marker points, each new one incremented.
Size and colour of markers can be changed. You can also add groups of numbers and turn each group on or off. Also in the eyedropper section is a change to the measurement tool. I use this a fair few times in CS4 and this will save a few moments each time so a welcome addition. This, like 29 other minor improvements, is part of the Just Do It upgrades. The Adobe team decided to prioritise requested feature upgrades that would normally be low priority and decided to focus on pushing these through for CS5.
It's good to see that Adobe are not only listening, but acting on suggestions and bringing us the Photoshop we want and not one they think we want. Advanced brushes In the brush section is a Mixer brush tool. This is starting to take Photoshop further in a paint direction, but only small scale as the option has limited use.
You can adjust the percentage of wetness, load, mix of colour and flow before you paint over the image using the foreground colour. To get you started there are a selection of presets from the drop down menu.
As well as shape you can now set the Bristle Tip type and have a live preview, making it far more convincing as a paint brush Here a brush with red paint was set to Wet: You can see I'm not an artists but in the right hands this could be a powerful addition, although it's still way off Painter. Here you can correct lens problems such as Chromatic Aberrations, but create profiles for your lenses and adjust for barrel and pincushion distortion. By shooting a test chart and then reading this through the free Lens Profile utility you can set CS5 up to automatically rectify problems with your photos taken with that lens.
Below is a screenshot showing the interface and fringing caused by a lens' Chromatic Aberration. CS5 has just made the process much easier. With this palette you can set text message font size, family and colour along with position and opacity with ease.
It can spoil looking at photos on the Internet, but it's the way many photographers are going. Changes to Tools You'll find a few new tool options On all the brushes there's now new icon on the top menu options - a tablet pressure control size that overrides brush settings and tunes in with your graphics tablet.
The tablet pressure brush appears on any tool that has brush characteristics and can be controlled with a graphics tablet. Some brushes also have a tablet pressure control for opacity too. Another icon takes you directly to the brush editing palette too, making the whole job a lot more seamless. Clone tool This old favourite has no new tricks apart from a toggle to go directly to the brush edit window and the clone source window so it's fast become the poor man's healing tool.
In the clone source window you can now set a frame offset. Sharpen tool This has one new addition - a choice to Protect detail. This does as it says and doesn't make the image become obliterated instantly, so you have more chance of making the image sharper without ruining it as you can see from the enlarged section of the photo below.
Crop tool On ePHOTOzine we went to lengths to write a tutorial showing how to use guides and grids to create a rule of thirds grid for use when cropping. It seems like someone at Adobe was reading our tutorial and thought As the Crop tool in CS5 has a built in rule of thirds grid , which adjusts with the crop.
This is welcome for those who want more pleasing compositions using this rule. By cropping and using the guides you can place the main focal point on one of the thirds. Excellent feature. You can no have a tabbed series of customised workspaces accessed from the top bar. Mini Bridge Is a compact faster loading version of Bridge added for those who just want to locate a file to edit in Photoshop Camera Raw 6 As always with a new release comes a new version of camera Raw.
As well as supporting over cameras, the latest version has an improved noise reduction along with a a grain effect so you can remove the bad digital stuff and turn it into a film look. There's also a vignette option, shown below on a cropped photo. This option requires you to sign into CS Review and then you can invite friends, colleagues or clients to provide feedback from within Photoshop Adobe Photoshop CS5: Verdict The Content Aware option is, without doubt, the major new feature in CS5, followed closely behind by the advanced Refine Edges options and the Lens Correction utility.
So from an upgrade point of view the Content Aware feature is a bit disappointing, especially after all the hype. If you look closely well as close as you can at the videos created to leak details, you will see that most of the Content Aware fill jobs done proudly by the Adobe team actually throw in poor patches of replicated detail that you'd certainly be disappointed with if you looked at the original and not a pixel video image.
If you do a lot of cut outs, especially around difficult subjects the Advanced Refine Edges may make an upgrade more tempting. If, on the other hand, you're new to Photoshop this is still the best image editing product around and the best just got better. It's certainly the one to own and gets our thumbs up once again.
Pros Selections made easier with Refine edge and Smart radius. Lots of minor feature requests added. No major change to interface - so for regulars it continues with its comfortable feel. Still the industry standard.
For the majority of photographers it's still a very expensive program. Content Aware is not as clever as it looks.