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Photoshop Fix has some tricks for your pix (pictures)

Adobe's new Creative Cloud-connected mobile retouching app does the basics and a bit more.

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LoriGruninNewHeadshot.jpg

Lori Grunin

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1 of 19 Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

Main screen

You access the tools from along the bottom of the screen. Fix offers cropping and rotating; exposure adjustments; freehand and face-specific warping; healing, cloning and redeye reduction; smoothing and sharpening; lighten, darken and clarity (called "structure"); saturation, desaturation and "pop"; painting; selective blurring; and vignetting.

You can open an image from your iPad's photos, use the camera, open an image from Creative Cloud or a Lightroom synced collection, grab one from Facebook, or download from Dropbox.

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Lighten and darken

Here you can see the paint-on masks of the darkened (red) and lightened (green) areas. You can control the brush size, edge hardness and transparency. In the upper left corner, the leftmost icon brings up a layer opacity slider; the tool next to it is a before/after toggle.

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3 of 19 Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

Face detection

One of Fix's notable tricks is simplified facial-structure retouching. It automatically detects the eyes, cheeks, nose, mouth and chin and brings up warping tools specifically designed to alter the basic characteristics of each.

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From chipmunk to supermodel

You can change the width of the face, the length and width of the jaw, and warp the entire face to make it bigger or smaller.

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5 of 19 Screenshot by Lori Grunin/CNET

Smile!

For the mouth, you can increase or decrease the plumpness of the lips, broaden or narrow the smile and make the mouth bigger or smaller.

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The eyes have it

While you can't do anything about squinters, you can take normal eyes and increase their size, angle, height and width.

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Nose job

You can't make it perky or shorter, but you can change the width of a nose.

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Overlay

You have one choice of mask overlay color: red. This made it a little difficult for me to retouch certain photos, like one with an apple in it.

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Vignetting

You can control the shape and color, size, position and edge amount of vignettes. To change the intensity, you use the layer opacity.

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Color me surprised

I was pleasantly surprised at the addition of a CMYK color picker to Fix, which I believe is the first Adobe mobile app to include one. You can also choose from among preset color themes and custom themes from Adobe Color CC and Adobe Hue CC that are stored in your libraries.

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Exposure adjustments

Global exposure adjustments include brightness and contrast, color saturation and shadow and highlights. One glaring omission is white balance.

I really hate that the sliders have no units and there's no histogram display, since screen preview isn't reliable enough and if you want to use the same settings again you have to remember stuff like "shadows three units up." On the other hand, the slider display mimics a distribution curve, with large increments in the middle getting smaller as you get to the tails. The app doesn't seem to have any algorithms in place to safeguard the integrity of the tonal curve, though, to prevent odd results (like getting gray areas if you push highlights all the way down and shadows all the way up).

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Cropping

This tool performs most of the typical operations you'd expect from it.

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Heal me

Options here include spot healing, cloning and red-eye reduction. Spot healing automatically overlays and blends in another section of the image to cover spots, while patch lets you select the section used for the overlay. You clone by tapping a source location and then painting over the target area; you can't move the source location once you've painted with it. I couldn't test red-eye because I can never find any shots with it.

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Warping

Fix offers the usual warping tools. You can push or pull pixels, make areas more concave or convex or push pixels clockwise or counterclockwise.

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Applications

One useful application of the desaturate brush is to remove fringing from photos. Here I did it on the top of the camera but not the dials; that's why the text is purple.

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Background blur

You can blur selected areas of the background with a paint-on mask. The inset is a crop from the original.

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Fix to Photoshop

When you send a edited photo to the desktop, it comes into Photoshop as a file with adjustment and mask layers for many operations. Some other operations, such as warping, get rasterized into the photo. While this is really useful, I was kind of hoping it would perform a little more intelligently, such as mapping vignettes to Photoshop vignettes so they'd be re-editable, instead of a clunkier-to-refine mask.

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Workflow matters

When editing photos and sending them directly to Photoshop, gaps and spikes appear in the histogram. That indicates clipped color values. On the other hand, when I sent the identical image back to Lightroom then opened it in Photoshop, it didn't have the same problem. However, then you lose the mask editability.

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When you're done

Once you're done, you have a handful of choices of what to do with your final project. Saving to library uploads it to CC and adds it to your My Graphics library; you can open it normally from there. Sending to Photoshop converts it to a PSD file, uploads it, launches all copies of Photoshop that are logged into the relevant account (which is really irritating) and loads the file. If you save to Lightroom, it syncs the file back to the original (if it was originally from Lightroom) or creates a copy in a new synced collection. Other options are saving it to your Camera Roll; publishing it as a Behance work-in-progress; directly sharing to Facebook or Instagram; or uploading to any service supported by your iPad's share sheet.

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