Adobe Photoshop is an ever-evolving creature. There are new features and new shortcuts being implemented regularly. Also, the features and processes that you think you know are improving all the time. There are far too many ongoing changes for the average user to keep up. So, here are some of the most useful updates that you might not have encountered.
Photoshop tip 1: Content aware fill
This potentially invaluable tool has been around for a while but, in its original form, the results were… variable. That’s all changed, now.
If you have the perfect photo, but the composition is ruined by a stray person in the background, for example, you can now remove the photobomber and invisibly mend the image. Click ‘Content Aware Fill’ and you can highlight the parts of the image to be sampled when creating the fill. You can use a brush to remove the parts of the image you want the sampler to ignore, or concentrate it on one particular element. This means you can refine the automatic effect.
You can also use the Colour Adaptation elements to adjust the contrast and brightness of the new fill. Finally, you can output to a new layer, so your alterations can be entirely non-destructive.
Photoshop tip 2: Convert smart objects to layers
Smart Objects are not news to your typical Adobe Photoshop user, they’re a very useful method of making non-destructive edits. What might be less well known is that you can now also convert Smart Objects back to normal Layers. Go into the ‘Layer’ menu, scroll down to ‘Smart Objects’ and select ‘Convert to Layers’ from the pop-up menu.
The only real downside with Smart Objects is that they eat up your RAM so, if you’re working on a document that is already pretty hungry, you can avoid the danger of having your Mac crash on you, by converting Smart Objects back down into Layers.
Photoshop tip 3: Match Fonts
When you’ve been designing for a while, you get to the point where you can recognise fonts on sight. You’ll also have come across the occasions when a client asks you to pick-up someone else’s work, but you have no information about the fonts used.
With the galaxy of fonts out there, you’d have a brain the size of a planet to recognise them all. Well, now you have the Photoshop Match Font function to recognise them for you. It does essentially what Google Images does for photos and Shazam does for music – it samples the text in an image, checks it against its vast onboard font library and tells you (pretty reliably) what font it thinks is being used.
To match your mystery font, just highlight the text in an image, select Type and Match Font and it’s as simple as that. Match font will provide you with a list of likely candidates, identifying the ones you already have onboard and the others which you can download.
Photoshop tip 4: Actions
Adobe Photoshop Actions were created simply as a way of making image editing easier. Rather than methodically going through every step-by-step process, every time, Photoshop Actions can collect all of the processes together and execute them automatically, literally at the push of a button.
Create your own Actions
If you’re embarking on a complicated or time consuming process, one that you’re likely to need to repeat a lot, creating your own Actions can save you a lot of time and repetitive effort. You can record your series of actions and let you repeat them.
Go to the ‘Window’ menu and choose ‘Actions’. That’s Opt F9 (or Alt F9 if you’re on a PC) if you prefer your shortcuts. This will open up the Actions panel. Here, you can create a ‘New Set’. You can then record your Actions in this new set folder. This process records the changes that you make to your image and the operations you perform to do that.
So, for example, if you want to alter the contrast and saturation of your image, then crop it to a specific size, you can make the changes manually and this feature records the sequence of adjustments, so you can apply the same sequence to another image. This saves you going through the tedious process of repeating yourself over several images.
So, there you have a handful of Photoshop tools which are new or improved and can prove immensely useful to the jobbing designer. Hopefully, with these tools in your kit, you’ll find it even easier to amaze your clients.