Photoshop CS6 puts photo manipulation on steroids

A content-aware move tool lets people move even complicated objects around an image, with Photoshop handling the hard part.

Photoshop CS6's content-aware move is shown here to move a woman in red.
Photoshop CS6's content-aware move is shown here to move a woman in red. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET
The woman to the upper left has been moved and the pixels filled in where she formerly was placed.
The woman to the upper left has been moved and the pixels filled in where she formerly was placed. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

In the current Photoshop CS5, Adobe introduced a technology called content-aware fill that could automatically fill in a hole left when a portion of the image was excised. In the upcoming CS6, the company will take that idea much farther.

In the company's fourth Photoshop CS6 preview, Photoshop Senior Product Manager Bryan O'Neil Hughes showed two new ways to use the tool.

The existing tool fills in holes by making its best guess where to find filler material elsewhere in the image. O'Neil Hughes said that with the new version, photographers will be able to pick the source of filler on their own.

"What I want is the ability to drive this and tell it what to put where," he said. "People have been asking for this for a while with the patch tool, and that's just what we've given them."

More dramatic is the new content-aware move tool. He used it to center a coin-operated telescope in the image. It had only been crudely selected, but Photoshop did a creditable job figuring out how to remove the original data and reconstruct the new background. (It did have a blurred background, though, which probably made the task easier.)

Some folks fret that photo manipulation tools mean you can't believe what you see in digital photos. In this case, it seems to me that content-aware move doesn't advance what experts can do as much as it makes the process faster, easier, and available to a much larger audience.

Photoshop sin is in the eye of the beholder, though. Photojournalism tends to hold such modifications in disdain, but you can bet that just about every photo you see in an ad has been fiddled with at least a little. And who would want to squelch the photo manipulation imagination of Erik Johansson?

Here's Adobe's video:

O'Neil Hughes also repositioned a figure of a woman in red who was standing in front of grass, a house, and the sky so that she was in front of a different portion of the grass and house. The tool also offers an "extend" mode that he used to lengthen a roof.

Earlier Photoshop CS6 previews revealed a new graphics-chip boost for the liquify filter , a darker user interface , a background save option, easier dotted and dashed line creation , and new raw-image processing controls.

The Creative Suite 6 software is due to arrive in the first half of 2012. Adobe is offering plenty of teasers to whet customers' appetites (and justify the significant purchase, upgrade, and subscription prices). Presumably, though, Adobe will save some scraps of news for the official announcement of the new image-editing software.

The content-aware move tool can work even with relatively unrefined selections.
The content-aware move tool can work even with relatively unrefined selections. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET
The image after the telescope has been moved.
The image after the telescope has been moved. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET
 

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