Content-aware tool before

Millions of Adobe fans tuned in anxiously to the CS5 Launch event, and I was no exception. Having watched the multitude of new features across the suite packages that promise to make our creative lives more fun, easy, and productive, I thought it best to focus this review on the “big three” apps for designers: Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator.

Part 1: Photoshop
I still can’t believe Photoshop turns 20 this year! Here are a few of the major Photoshop enhancement tools for CS5.

Content-Aware Tool
This tool will magically remove any details from an image and fill in the spaces left behind with surrounding pixels.

Select the Spot Healing brush, make sure the Content Aware radio button is selected on top of the menu bar, and paint away the unwanted areas of a photo. By making a selection, and choosing delete, a new Fill window now pops up, asking whether you’d like to use the Content Aware tool to fill in what gets left behind with pixels surrounding the deleted area. Works like a charm. Options include Blending Mode and Opacity.

Content-aware tool after
[The bench in the foreground is magically erased!]

This feature also comes in handy for stitched-together panorama shots that need a fill to complete the uneven edges created when the images get stitched accordingly. The before and after is stunning.

Content aware panorama shot Content-aware panorama shot
[Waiting for the magic to happen]

Content-aware panorama shot
[The rest of the photo appears out of nowhere]

Thanks to Adobe Photoshop’s YouTube channel for posting the video where I found the images.

Refine Edge

floral image

Great for making difficult selections easily. The software detects fine edges such as hair and foliage without leaving any surrounding colors from what it selects behind.

Refine Edge can be selected by using any selection tool.

Show Radius selected

The Refine Edge option is located on top of the menu bar. New to CS5, the View Mode box is now at the top of the Refine Mask dialog box rather than at the bottom, and various views can be cycled through via the pull-down menu. I also love the new zoom tool. Holding down the mouse while the zoom tool (Z) is selected zooms in, Option + dragging on mouse zooms out.

The Edge Detection option, found just below the View Mode window is also new to CS5. The Smart Radius amount can be adjusted to further aid in final edge detail detection.

edge detection

When you select Mask view, you can really see the tiny details being affected. The completed selection can be outputted to several options: Layer Mask, New Layer, New Layer with Layer Mask, or New document, with or without Layer Mask.

Refine edge on Black

You can also choose to Remember Settings for the next images to come through.

Decontaminate colors

Puppet Warp
Brought over by Adobe After Effects, Puppet Warp is a fun way of changing up your images. You can reposition, reshape and transform any part of an image or a layer in a document. By choosing Edit>Puppet Warp, the cursor becomes a pin icon. You can drag the pins anywhere on the image you want, stretching pixels as you click and drag with the mouse.

Puppet Warp dots
[Puppet Warp dots]

Each pin set onto the image locks down that portion of the image when dragging to distort. Shift-clicking on more than one pin will allow those areas to move together when the mouse is dragged. Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac)-click on a pin to get the scissors icon, to delete a particular pin. By further holding down either of these keys, you can rotate the pixels around the particular pin that’s selected.

The warped effect of the dots
[The warped effect of the dots]

There’s a pin depth option at the top of the menu that will set the pin either forward or backward, to rearrange its stacking order. As well, the mesh option will show just how complex the pin arrangement is.

Apply Puppet Warp dialog box

You can also choose to show the density of the pins (e.g. to show more or less points in the image) by selecting the Density option just a bit to the left of the mesh option. I haven’t owned After Effects until now, so there’s one tool that I’ll feel familiar with should I ever need to edit an image in AE.

Puppet Warp final image
[The duplicated image is now warped]

Enhanced 3D Using Repoussé
Within Photoshop, the Repoussé command makes it possible to convert 2D objects into 3D meshes, which you can be extruded, inflated, and repositioned in 3D. You can browse and download 3D content online via the 3D menu, taking you directly to Adobe’s 3D content download site.

Judging from the screen shot below that I achieved after about 10 minutes into the document, the 3D portion of Photoshop would take a tutorial on its own to master. Still, it’s good to have the feature onboard CS5.

It took awhile for me to play around and get comfortable with the settings here. For example, to change the bend or shear origin of an object, click a point on the icon below to set the originating point. You’ll have to convert the object to a smart object before working with its originating point.

3D orientation

CS5 also introduces a wealth of new brush options, complete with animated preview.

With the brush icon selected, by holding down the option key you now get a really cool icon (couldn’t take a screen grab while the icon is active, so I’ve used one from a video) that shows current color and sampled color.

Painting with the Scatter brush tip

The iris photo below was worked on with a medium brush and a combination of clean brush and load brush, options now to be found in the CS5 menu bar.

In addition, Photoshop now runs as a native 64-bit application on both Mac and Windows. I won’t get into 64-bit processing, however Wikipedia offers a good description.

Next up I’ll be reviewing InDesign in Part two of my CS5 review.


  • Comment by Jon Jennings — May 26, 2010 @ 9:09 pm

    Hot stuff! I remember watching the pre-release teaser video of content aware fill and it reminded me of the Arther C Clarke quote “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”

    My only caution was that those images were obviously carefully chosen and designed to show the tool in its best light. Now that CS5 is out in the wild I’m expecting to see more real-life examples of what it can do.

  • Comment by arianec — May 26, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

    And I’ve still got to experiment to the point of finding any bugs. I’m sure with any new release they’re bound to be there.

    Once the day to day workflow meets these new advancements in Photoshop, I’m sure a lot of commentary – both positive and negative- will come to the surface. I do love the Content-Aware tool. Serious magic.

  • Pingback by Adobe CS5: InDesign | ariane c design — May 27, 2010 @ 9:53 am

    […] reviews covering the latest features in the “big three” CS5 Design Premium programs: Photoshop, InDesign, and […]

  • Pingback by Adobe CS5: Illustrator | ariane c design — May 28, 2010 @ 9:20 am

    […] my recent Photoshop and InDesign reviews, I’ll cover a few of the many new features Illustrator CS5 has to […]

  • Pingback by 12×12 Photo Marathon | ariane c design — August 12, 2010 @ 11:38 am

    […] mind per hour, and off you go, interpreting each hour’s theme to your individual taste. No Photoshop allowed! I read about this event as it unfolded last year and hope to get a ticket in time to […]

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.