Adobe Photoshop CS5 Boldly Empowers the Digital Artist

This is A New Day

So I’ve been playing around with Adobe’s lateset version of Photoshop that will be coming out in the next month, CS5, and I have to say that I think it represents a bold, dramatic and fundamental shift in digital art creation. I’ve been using Photoshop for many years now but this version has blown me away like none that I’ve ever seen.

The new version has lots of cool new toys and tools for photographers, which I’ll get into, but for me by far the most significant achievement in this new version is that it has for the first time made painting available to the photographer.

I’ve wanted to paint for years, but have never had the talent with a physical paint brush. I’ve tried various software solutions to paint digitally and never have they done what I want. Usually painting effects in digital imaging software come out more as cheesy filters, routinely and uniformly applied over an entire image, resulting in something that feels more like a faux painting than a painting. But with Photoshop CS5’s new painting module, you have a new unprecedented amount of control over painting and brushes and can manually now paint over a photograph and turn it into the most realistic version of an actual painting I’ve ever seen.

Reclining Nude


I can’t wait to see what people end up doing with the painting module in the new Photoshop. Yesterday I uploaded my first “painting” to Flickr (above). It’s very crude and rough and I only spent about 10 minutes on it, but I think you get the idea with what is possible. I’m really looking forward to trying to replicate more photorealism with some of my neon sign photographs especially. The other two images in this post of the reclining nude and neon Kodak sign are also paintings made from photographs of mine.

So more than anything the painting tools and their total realistic representation blew me away in Photoshop CS5. I’m impressed big time. I was so impressed with that new feature that I hardly had time to really dig into more of the new tools for the photographer.

Painting in Photoshop CS5

So what else is new for the photographer in CS5?

New HDR Functionality in Photoshop CS5

1. HDR, HDR, HDR. Now I’m not really an HDR photographer (yet), but Photoshop CS5 has new HDR functionality allowing you to combine multiple exposures to create hyper-realistic photos. Now I’ve tried HDR before in both Photoshop as well as other software packages and could never really get the hang of it. It seemed super hard to work with. It feels much easier in Photoshop CS5. CS5 also brings you the ability to create a HDR like photo from a single photograph rather than multiple exposures by using HDR Toning which mimics the HDR look in photos.

Remove Unwanted Elements in Photoshop CS5

2. Much cleaner removal of unwanted elements in your photos. In the past if I wanted to remove something from a photo it was very difficult. Painstaking. It was tough with the tools to get all of the nuance of color around an image, the little halo left behind, etc. Now Photoshop has what they call “content-aware fill options”.

Basically when you remove something it automatically analyzes the surrounding area to replace perfectly what was around that content. It looks at the lighting, tone, sharpness, and essentially dynamically rebuilds what should have been there. It can even handle complex patterns where someone is standing in front of something like a wall or something with an intricate design. Adobe showed me an example where they actually remove a guy from in front of a wall. You’d never have known he was ever there.

You Are the Puppet Master in Photoshop CS5

3. Puppet Wrap. Because you are the puppet master, right? It’s hard for me to explain puppet wrap exactly. But basically you can reshape objects in a frame, actually recompose a subject. See Adobe’s example of the elephant’s trunk.

4. Automatic lens correction. I don’t really use this, but the new Photoshop can now correct lens distortion better, correcting the three most common lens-based errors: geometric distortion, chromatic aberration, and vignetting.

5. Along with Photoshop CS5 comes the new camera RAW 6 plug in. This is the same camera RAW plug in that is presently being tested with the Lightroom 3, beta 2. Most significantly, Adobe has taken noise reduction to a new level with Camera RAW 6. I am amazed at how effortlessly and easily Adobe removes the noise from even the highest shot ISO images. Of all the things I’ve been playing around with in the Lightroom beta right now, this is by far the most significant improvement for me personally.

My only gripe about the noise reduction capabilities in the new camera RAW is that the results of your noise reduction (and sharpening) are only visible if you view at actual size 1:1. I wish that Adobe would render full sized view options with the actual results of noise reduction and sharpening instead of making you have to zoom in all the time — at least this is the case in Lightroom 3 Beta 2.

6. Adobe added a new mini bridge module for Photoshop. Now you no longer have to switch back and forth between Bridge and Photoshop to look at your photos from an organizational standpoint. Simply use the mini-bridge view from within Photoshop.

It should be noted that with Photoshop CS5 Adobe also introduced over three dozen new little productivity saving changes, features, shortcuts, etc. There are new features like cropping with a rule of thirds overlay, one click straightening, the ability to do better and easier conversions from color to black and white with tints to get tinted monochrome images and others.

Adobe also introduced some new tools to build 3D graphics with Photoshop. I can’t imagine using these personally, but if you do create graphics, this will be a nice new tool as well.

As always, you can easily use Lightroom as your first pass photo application and then use the Photo > Edit In > menu in Lightroom to bring the adjusted photo right into Photoshop to do your final finishing on it where wanted/needed.

Overall I’m *extremely impressed with the new version of Photoshop. While I do 95% of my processing of my images in Lightroom and usually only go into Photoshop for touching things up, it still is a must have application for my own workflow. More significantly going forward though, I will definitely be using Photoshop *much* more to keep up with my new hobby of painting my photographs. I’m also looking forward to exploring HDR a bit more and all of the other improvements that the new Photoshop brings to the table.

Hats off to the Photoshop team on the best version of Photoshop yet!

Stephen Shankland also reviewed the new Photoshop CS5 for CNET here and Adobe Featured Blogs here.

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59 comments on “Adobe Photoshop CS5 Boldly Empowers the Digital Artist
  1. Crazy Ivory says:

    I am really looking forward to the new version since I read the first thing about this content awaare fill. This will be aweseome!
    Thanks for your nice and early report.

  2. Wow, that content aware fill is an answer to prayer! It’s such a pain to remove items in Photoshop. Thanks for the update. :)

  3. limo hire says:

    Such a Wow factor.. now start the workon the CS5…yeepy…

  4. looksmart says:

    the same shitty UI..Lazy!

  5. Grant Perry says:

    This Kool-aid should taste great. Can’t wait to partake!

  6. Andrew says:

    Great post Thomas! Love the clean removal of an object from a complex background.

  7. looks very promising
    waiting for it to use

  8. joe ekine says:

    I am not sure when I’ll upgrade. The new features did not really blow my mind. ^^

  9. Jessica says:

    I have been using the Adobe Creative Suite for 12 years now. Adobe is one of the slowest companies to innovate their products. I have rarely (if ever) in the past 12 years seen a new Adobe release and said to myself I HAVE to have the new version, it’s so much better.

    They have millions of people that use their products everyday, and yet not one of them would tell you that they find Adobe an exciting company to watch and see how they improve their software. Because the truth is, they only make minor improvements. They think they can add on a couple Photoshop filters in 2 years, and wow the world with their new release. It’s pretty upsetting, because its 2010 and they can do so much more to innovate in this space.

    I still use CS3, and it works OK. I just can’t believe its been two releases CS4, and now CS5 and I still don’t see any significant changes for me to want to upgrade.

    When I view the what’s new tab for CS5 products, it seems more like maintenance changes. Something that I would except to see every 6 months from adobe. I mean the Puppet translator is cool, but 2 years later. Come on. There should be a whole lot more.

    Some of the ‘new features’ are existing features that have simply been retought to be easier. Come on, a little more focus on the core apps would be nice.

    Thoroughly disappointed with this new release. It just doesn’t FEEL worth the upgrade.

  10. Marios says:

    Well the removal tool is insane now everyone will be a Photoshop Master

    Thanks for the post

  11. adobecs5 says:

    thats cool thanks adobe

  12. Carlos says:

    Wow, thats so aweseome! Mindblowing aweseome, Woohoo aweseome!
    CS5 is so aweseome. CS4 was a pile of crap, the worst software i have ever paid for. But, this is history! Adobe has learned so much from the CS4 desaster that this time they made a really aweseome aweseome
    wicked aweseome software. With CS5 i will be so much more creative!

  13. Photoshop CS5 is definitely going to be worth the upgrade. I wasn’t so keen on CS4 and so I didn’t bother with it but this one has a lot of features that I’m looking forward to. If any of the readers here are interested, if you join NAPP – National Association of Photoshop Professionals, you get a substantial discount on Photoshop CS5. You can check out the details on my blog at:

  14. savita says:

    That’s cool i also thanks to adobe, but i don’t have the latest version of photoshop how can i download, please help me..

  15. Ben Heine is a famous illustrator, portraitist, caricaturist and photographer. His latest project caught everybody’s eye, which he describes as Digital Circlism Hope you will find it interesting.

  16. Nice! Great overview of new features. I’m especially excited about the paining module as well.

  17. SLR Best says:

    I am really looking forward to the new version since I read the first thing about this content awaare fill. This will be aweseome!
    Thanks for your nice and early report.

  18. Your blog is really helpful for photoshop tutorial & lots of tips!
    many many thanks for sharing this nice post!

  19. Nice post. Adobe Photoshop CS5 is really great. Regards, Evan