Before we get started, it’s important to note that Photoshop CS6 is a major release. The Photoshop team spent a lot of time streamlining the interface, working on new features, and fixing older ones. For instance, the new interface includes over 1,800 new icons and 250 cursors. Each of these icons had to be customized to work with the new darker interface. In addition, the Photoshop team also spent some time fixing inconsistencies in the UI and rearranging menu items. This is something that hadn’t been done in over 22 years. In addition to the new interface, Photoshop CS6 now includes new performance improvements that will enable you to work faster and more efficiently.
Photoshop CS6 also includes long awaited features such as the ability to edit vectors in much the same way as you would in Illustrator, the ability to easily add strokes and dashed lines, as well as new ways to organize your layers, and let’s not forget about new background save and auto recovery features. Photoshop CS6 is a major upgrade that has more than 62% more new features than CS5 had over CS4. It also includes 65 user inspired enhancements that were a result of Adobe’s efforts to reach out to its customers through blogging and social media channels. It is changes like these that make us extremely excited share with you some of what you will see in Photoshop CS6.
Photoshop CS6 received a major overhaul of its user interface. This was the first major change to the interface since Photoshop was created over 22 years ago. It includes over 1,800 new icons and 250 new cursors and is much more consistent with other apps like Lightroom. The most prominent feature is the darker interface that allows you to focus more on the image that you’re working on. In addition, the Photoshop team also spent some time reducing some of the visual clutter that was present in some of the menu items.
New Vector Shape Layers
One of the most exciting features of Photoshop CS6 is a feature that users have been wanting forever, true vector shapes; and no, we’re not talking about the old Photoshop shape layers that use vector masks to produce the shape you need. We are talking about true vector shapes that do not require layer styles to produce a stroke or gradient. Those elements can now be quickly added to your shapes in much the same way as Illustrator.
In addition to the new vector shape layer feature, Photoshop CS6 will now allow you to add strokes to your vectors in a much more efficient way. You may have seen the sneak peek video explaining how to create a dashed line. The ability to add a dashed line is fantastic but Photoshop CS6 now does much more than that. You can align your stroke to the inside, outside, or to the center of your paths, and even get sharp corners, something that was really tricky to do in earlier versions.
If you work with PSD files that use a lot of layers, then you know how frustrating it can be to search for layers in your layer stack. Users have been asking for ways to help manage their layers for a while. The Photoshop team was listening and delivered big time. This update to the layer panel is huge! In fact, it might be one of the most important new features of the entire release. Photoshop CS6′s new layer search feature will allow you to quickly filter through your layer stack to find the layer that you are looking for. You can filter layers by kind, name, effect, mode, attribute, and color.
For instance, if you want to locate all of the pixel layers in your layer stack, you can do this easily by clicking on the pixel layer icon. You can also search for adjustment layers, text layers, shape layers, or smart objects. In addition, you can also search your layers for specific layer styles including drop shadow, bevel and emboss, etc. Another fantastic feature is the ability to search for layers that have a specific blending mode applied to them. For instance, if you needed to search for all the soft light layers in your PSD, you could do that easily with just a couple of clicks.
Background Save and Auto Recovery
As a designer, one of the worst things that can happen to you is for Photoshop to crash on you after you’ve spent hours working on a project without saving. Wouldn’t it be great if Photoshop could save your file for you automatically in the background while you work? Well, now it can! Photoshop CS6 includes background save and auto recovery. This means that you can set Photoshop to automatically save your files in the background while you work; and if there is a crash, Photoshop will automatically recover the file that you were working on.
Editor’s note: my computer locked up while working on this article. This forced me to turn off my computer to restart. When I opened Photoshop CS6 after the restart, the document that I was working on was there for me to continue working on. In this case, the Auto Recovery feature worked perfectly.
Content Aware Patch and Move Tools
When content aware fill was announced in CS5, people described it as “magical” or “impossible.” Now that we have had a couple of years to play with it, most people will probably agree that it still does a great job of removing objects from images but many people wished that they could tie it in with some other tools, like the patch tool for instance. Photoshop CS6 includes 2 new content aware features; content aware patch and content aware move.
Content aware patch will allow you to use the patch tool to grab image data from another part of your image and then blend it in with the part of the image that you want to replace.
Content aware move will allow you to move pixels to other parts of your image without having to use multiple layers.
What Do You Think?
Now that we’ve had our say. What do you think? What features are you looking forward to? Will you make the upgrade?