Photoshop CS 6: What You Need to Know

For image editing software there is Adobe Photoshop and everything else. For photographers, graphic designers, and others serious about creating and editing digital images, Photoshop is the go to program. It has more features and more complexity than any other editing software.

The release of a new version of Photoshop is a major event for every loyal user of the program and right on schedule, the beta of PhotoShop CS6 is here. Here is what you need to know!

Trying out the Beta

Last week Adobe released the beta Photoshop CS6, the next version of Photoshop, to the public. Right now anyone can download and try out the beta software for free for sixty days. The download for Windows weighs in at a hefty 1.7 GB and requires Windows XP or Windows 7. Windows Vista is not supported.

You also need at least 1 GB of RAM and the beta requires 1 GB of disk space when installed. You will also need a free Adobe ID when you first run the program. If you do not have one you can create it the first time you run the program.

After playing with the beta for a few days I’ve found several features and changes that really stand out.

The Interface

Photoshop CS6 Interface

The new color palette in its full glory

The interface is darker than previous versions. It reminds me of Adobe’s complementary Lightroom product. The icons have also been given a slight rework and feel more refined than earlier versions.

As with many of the changed or new features in CS6, those preferring the old look can revert back to it through a setting in preferences.

Content Aware

The new content aware move and content aware patch abilities are the wow features in CS6. Both work similarly to the content aware fill added to CS5. Both allow you to make changes that previously could require hours of work in seconds. Content aware fill lets you easily remove unwanted items from a photo.

Content aware move allows moving an object in a photo somewhere else while filling in the old spot with appropriate content with only a quick selection. A little touch up work is sometimes needed, but the results are spectacular. Content aware patching allows you to cover up missing or unwanted parts of your image from elsewhere in the image with Photoshop again doing the work to blend in the change with the rest of your image.

Before these changes were only available to photographers and editors with time, patience, and lots of experience in Photoshop. Now the time and experience required are greatly reduced. Someone using CS6 for the first time can get results that previously would have taken even an experienced user hours of work. The experienced user will spend even less time in Photoshop to get work done.

Content Aware Move Sample

In this photo, I’ve moved a plaque in a photo using only the content aware move tool. You see the original image on the left and the final result on the right. This took less than twenty seconds from start to final image. Notice how Photoshop filled in the background where the plaque was and blended the plaque into its new location.

Crop Tool

Adobe also improved the crop tool. It brings in many improvements from Lightroom’s crop tool. By default, you now have draggable handles when crop is selected though you can still drag a selection over the portion of the image you want to retain.

Multiple overlays reflecting common rules of composition including the rule of thirds and the golden spiral can be displayed over the image when cropping. A new option lets you keep the parts of an image cropped and bring it back later. This makes crops a non-destructive action. You also have the option of using the old behavior and getting rid of those cropped portions when you know you won’t need them again.

Adaptive Wide Angle

This is an extension of the lens correction which lets you correct for the distortions in an image caused by wide angle lenses. It allows you to identify portions of the image that should be straight, horizontal, or vertical and Photoshop adjusts the image to make them so.

You can take any wide angle photo and quickly have a more natural looking and correct representation of the original scene.

Video Editing

Video Editing Interface

Limited video editing is now included in Photoshop. The included video editor is not a replacement for Premier or even Premier Elements.

It’s basic, but will work for those just starting out. You get timelines, trimming, transitions, and many filters that work with images also work with video.

Ready for the Final Release

After playing with the beta for just a few days, I’m ready for the new version to be released. This is a beta so there are occasional bugs and errors, but it works quite well. The new features are wonderful and those I’ve mentioned here are just a few of the many updates and improvements within.

Even if you don’t normally use Photoshop, I’d recommend grabbing the download and playing with it. You may not need or be able to afford Photoshop CS6 when released, but just playing with the beta may get you thinking in different ways when editing in your editor of choice.