Awesome Photoshop CS5 Features You Should Know

As I mentioned in my post about Illustrator’s new features, Adobe has made some helpful little improvements for CS5. For Photoshop, I don’t necessarily think I will use all the new features frequently, but I am excited about some of the efficiency adjustments in existing tools. Here are some of the most notable new features:

1. Smart Radius
Finally an easy solution to making those pesky selections around hair! Make a simple, rough selection going in a little more than normal by the hair. Refine Edges and smooth and feather any necessary areas. Increase radius to get the details back by the hair, then select “Smart Radius.” Awesome! If refinements need to be made, use the refinement touchup tool on the left of the Refine Edge box for localized fixes. For further perfection, check “Decontaminate Colors” and drag slider to the right.

2. Content-Aware Fill
I think this feature had the most hype pre-release of CS5 and it certainly delivers once you get used to it. Simple select an area you want to remove, go to Edit > Fill > Content Aware. No need for lengthy sessions with the healing tools. Thanks, Adobe! Watch a funny spoof of how the tool works here.

3. Puppet Warp
The next generation of transform tools has arrived! Essentially, this tool allows you to pin certain parts of an object down, while allowing you to manipulate other parts of that object (like a puppet with joints). To use it, isolate an object on a layer and go to Edit > Puppet Warp. Click “Show Mesh” on top menu to see what you’re working with, and click anywhere on the mesh to add points (that pin down areas). Click and drag to manipulate an area, or option-click to rotate a point like a hinge. It take a little playing around, but I can see this as being useful under certain circumstances (ie: slightly repositioning something, making an animated gif, etc)

4. Bristle Brushes
Like Illustrator CS5, bristle brushes are now a paint option with realistic brush strokes. See my post on Illustrator’s New Features for more on how it works.

5. Mixer Brush Tool
Ah, a tool that realistically mixes paint and can be used on photographs. Cool? Yes. Will I use it frequently? Probably not. But here’s how it works: Select the Mixer Brush and use the dropper to chose your start color (or hold opt key to sample multiple colors). Make a new layer if you are working with a photograph, and choose “sample all layers.” Use the top bar to determine style of painting you are making (the wetter the brush, the more fluidity in the color mixing). From here, just stroke and paint away.

Here’s an example from lynda.com (before and after)

Productivity Improvements Worth Mentioning:

- You can now delete all empty layers by going to File > Scripts > Delete Empty Layer
- Opacity can be changed on multiple layers at a time!
- Can now “Paste Outside” of selections
- Ruler tool can easily be used to straighten a horizon by simply clicking, dragging, and clicking “straighten” at top
- Can copy color’s hex code from the color panel and paste into document
- HUD color picker with eye dropper allows closer look at selected colors as well asĀ  their relationship to others on the color wheel.

Of course this is only a quick run-through, so check out lynda.com for more information and training. Stay tuned for InDesign CS5 Awesome Features, and check out my Illustrator Awesome Features.

For you: What is your favorite new tool? What do you think Photoshop still needs to add/improve upon?

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