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Adobe Photoshop CS6 Review: 7 Improvements for Web Designers

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Adobe just released the Adobe Photoshop CS6, and I must to say, it feels like I’m in web designer’s heaven. They have done serious improvements that will just blow your mind. Here we’ll focus on the great stuff for web designers, ranking the top 7 improvements (including a lot of features) that will just make your life easier.

After so many years, I agree with Jesus Diaz when he says that “For the first time in many years, this one is a must-have update”, not only because of the cool features, but also because now it’s focused in the really important stuff, the things that helps you to get the job done, improved the tools that you use most and that’s pretty much what matters in the end.

The great thing here is not the features update. I mean, we love new features, but the key point is how those updates affects our workflow. And boy, Adobe has made things much easier for us this time, making Photoshop an even better tool to get things done faster and faster.

Let’s take a look at it.

#1 – Performance – Thanks to new Photoshop CS6 graphics engine

Photoshop CS6 Review

This is the very first thing you’ll notice when you first open and use Photoshop CS6. I don’t have a really powerful computer (Intel i3, win7), but it’s kind of frustrating when I have to wait a few seconds just to create a new file. Now it’s just there, when the canvas show up, just hit CTRL + N. Though there are a few beta problems (like things not loading), it’s way better than CS5 in here.

With the new graphics engine, Mercury, everything you do will be really, really, really faster. I just can’t describe how amazing it is to hit “liquify” and the whole document is just there, waiting for the craziest things you want to do in real time.

Filters, zooming, cropping, brushes, save for web… Everything is surprisingly faster, no “pixilation” or “rendering”, just hit and it’s there.

Long story short: You’ll save a lot of time and headache because you just don’t need to wait to see things working.

#2 – Web Design features for image editing – Better tools, new features

When I was a Fireworks-guy, around 5-7 years ago I used to say that Photoshop wouldn’t be good for Web Design since it was too focused in photo editing. Just like that, I didn’t trust in an editor that works with millimeters instead of pixels.

Of course it was long before Photoshop CS6. Now it has so many cool features that you can use for websites and web design-related photos that it’s just impossible to say a word against it.

Cropping

Now you can rotate stuff while cropping, and it has a lot of other guides to help you, like golden spiral (which I just loved). Ok, it all was there before, but the crazy thing is that now the “selector” stands centered while the whole to-be-cropped image moves in the background. It just feels much better this way!

Blur gallery – Including Tilt Shift & Bokeh

Many developers like to use fancy effects for featured images and post images. Actions help a lot on this, but you just can’t beat a built-in filter.

Now, with Photoshop CS6, if you like Tilt Shift, Bokeh and a few other effects you can use them with one click. And again you’ll be amazed how real-time this thing is.

RAW Import

A lot has been said about this one. RAW formats store pretty much anything about your images and with this improvement Photoshop CS6 can deal a lot better with them, including easy brightness / contrast corrections, color corrections, selective colors, complete curves control and much more.

Image correction tools

Pretty much anything you find under Image > Adjustments has gone better. Curves, Levels, Shadows / Highlights, Brightness / Contrast. So again with one click you get a much better result and corrections.

#3 – Shortcuts – Photoshop CS6 has much better visual feedback

Everything you do now you have much better visual feedback.

If you move a layer you have a box telling you how much pixels you moved. If you want to change the size of an element, you’ll see the new dimensions while you drag it. Feel like rotating? Ok, you’ll get how much degrees you changed from the original point as you move your pointer.

It looks like those “title” attributes for HTML element, Photoshop CS6 made it really easy to understand what is going on.

Another thing was pretty annoying to me was the lack of feedback when you changed the brush size via shortcuts. I used to hold ALT + right click + drag the mouse up / down, right / left to change the brush settings but I always had to use the common right click to check if they were what I wanted.

Now just while you’re changing the settings you’ll see the new diameter, hardness and opacity.

Last but not least, the well known layer search.

It’s a really cool feature if you are the organized type. You can just search by layer name, effect, mode, attributes, and color.

Also layer selection has been improved and it’s easier to do things like duplicate multiple layers or groups with CTRL + J (instead of right click > Duplicate layers), change multiple layers styles and so on.

#4 – CSS3 like stuff – Photoshop CS6 “Paragraph styles” and crazy borders

And now it comes the really golden stuff for front-end developers.

With Photoshop CS6 we have what they called “Paragraph styles”. And that works pretty much like CSS selectors. So, the designer can set different styles, like h1, p, h2, and if by change the client asks to change the “Main title color” you just go in the paragraph styles box and edit it, it’ll automatically apply to every element with this style.

Also, the front-end guy’s life will be way easier since he’ll just have to get all those styles and translate them to CSS (ok, it’s NOT just like that, but it’ll save a lot of time anyway).

Also we have a few improvements for shapes.

There are merging options and crazy borders styles, dotter and dashed. Also there are more fill options for borders like gradients. You just have to select the shape and press “P” or select the path tool and you’ll easily change all of this stuff.

#5 Layer styles improved – Again, pretty much similar to CSS

Now you can apply layer styles to the whole group and it’ll propagate to its children, pretty much as it works on CSS. Where you add stuff to the container and all children can inherit properties like colors and shadows.

#6 Content-aware move – A.k.a Photoshop CS6 wizardry

It’s just impossible to say how amazing this feature is. You can just remove stuff, move stuff, change the source (if the content aware didn’t work as you expected because the element next to what you wanted to remove isn’t a pattern).

Well, I’ll leave you with this crazy video showing how it works. Hold your jaws.

#7 Video – Ditch windows movie maker now

I just didn’t see too much people talking about this. Besides it deserves a great respect in my opinion.

Photoshop has now cool features for quick video editing, which makes it a perfect alternative to Windows Movie maker and similars.

It can work pretty well if you want to edit homemade videos or your own marketing stuff. It’s simple and it works, that’s all that I know.

Actually it can import and edit pretty well videos, use video groups, add every element that you see in the usual panel, add transitions to elements… Well, it’s much powerful than ever!

BONUS: #8 – “One more thing”… A few general improvements

As a wise guy used to say “One more thing…”.

A few interface options

Now you can choose between 4 interface colors. You can change it under “Edit > Preferences > Interface”.

The one I liked most is the default (2nd from left to right), what about you?

TAB now does what it meant to do.. sometimes

If you are renaming layers and press tab you won’t see the whole window rearranging panels. You’ll be lead to the next one and you can rename it too until the end or if you press “Enter”.

Better anti-aliasing for imported objects

If you import elements a lot you’ll see minor updates in the overall look of the imported element.

Shapes merging, cropping and so on

Now shapes can be combined, substracted, united per intersection, substracted per intersection. Before the best thing you could do was to convert them to bitmap and pray to God so the client won’t ask for changes.

Conclusion

Don’t know if I mentioned it before but it stills beta. I’ve got myself a few bugs, but it’s just amazing how it’s better. I wish I could buy my copy right now, how about you?

Photoshop CS6 Video Review

Rochester Oliveira

A web designer and entrepreneur from Itajubá (MG), Brasil. Just loves writing about obscure topics and doing some cool stuff. Get in touch at @roch_br.

Posts by Rochester Oliveira

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