The alignment tools are probably the least sexy but most useful inclusions in Photoshop CC. Period. Sadly they also might be the most overlooked and least used IMO.
1. Template Files - Start Projects Faster
Photoshop CC has made it that much easier to start out new projects by giving users the ability to start with stock template files. Say you are starting a new responsive website mockup; you can now start from a stock framework file and not only save time, but skip the less creative functional design aspects and get right into the fun stuff. Sadly, a number of the more useful templates are paid options. However, there are a number of free templates available for use for all owners of CC.
2. Creative Cloud Libraries
An incredibly convenient aspect of CC is the addition of cloud libraries. Libraries let you manage a project's graphics, layer styles, looks, character and paragraph styles, colors, etc. As their name would suggest, these libraries are attached to your CC account. As such you have the ability to invite collaborators and set permissions to allow levels of use.
3. Photoshop Search Function
If you are anything like me, from time to time you either forget how to access a function in photoshop or your mind goes blank and you forget how to use a feature. The people at Adobe have added a search feature specifically with this in mind. Now with a quick search you can easily find that hidden feature, get proven links to instructions, and even search the Adobe stock collection for images. Not groundbreaking stuff but it comes in handy more than I would like to admit.
4. Rotate Canvas Tool
There comes a time in some projects where the orientation of an image will cause you nothing but grief. If you use a Cintiq monitor, the fancy new Microsoft Surface Studio, or even the touchpad on a laptop this issue gets even worse. Photoshop CC now has you covered. When you need your perfectly squared artboard to rotate a few degrees to make drawing that line easier you no longer have to assume some contorted body stance or impossible claw shape with your hand. You can simply use the Rotate Canvas tool to grab your document and rotate it, non-destructively of course, to whatever angles you would like.
5. Select and Mask - Refine Edge Brush and Polygon Lasso
Select and Mask was a key feature addition in Photoshop CC and it keeps getting better and more robust. The most recent update saw the addition of the Polygon Lasso tool to the select and mask tool bar. Having both the Polygon Lasso and the Refine Edge tool both in the same feature is such a time saver. This addition makes this already powerful feature that much better.
6. Face Aware Liquify Tools
Now I am sure every designer at one time has had a request about fixing "issues" in group photos. And while Photoshop CC has not quite mastered the ability to remove a person from a group photo with a click of the mouse, they have built an amazing tool to deal with faces. The new face aware features of the Liquify tool are near magical. The filter will auto detect faces in a photo and then give you the free reign to tweak sliders that let you adjust everything from individual eye distance to lower and upper lip widths.
7. Adjustment Layers
Adjustments and Adjustment Layers are incredibly powerful additions to Photoshop CC and will make adjusting your working files so much easier. Instead of applying destructive effects and adjustments to working files Photoshop CC allows you to create Adjustment Layers and add them to your layer stack. These layers function like any other Photoshop layer and will affect everything under them in your layer stack. However unlike other layers, they can also be applied directly to specific elements and are generated with layer marks for even more specific edits.
8. Smart Objects
The advent of smart objects gave Photoshop the ability to work with a number of different file types in a non-destructive way. This feature has been expanded greatly in Photoshop CC. Images can now be set as smart objects and afforded all the benefits of being such. These smart images then can have filters applied as non-destructive and infinitely editable layer effects instead of editing the images directly. This is a game changer for sure.
9. Alignment Tools
The alignment tools are probably the least sexy but most useful inclusions in Photoshop CC. Period. Sadly, they also might be the most overlooked and least used IMO. Discovering the power they wield was a revelation and has probably saved me hundreds of man hours since their inclusion.
10. CSS from Layer
If you start a new web project with a photoshop mockup, you could save yourself some coding time by using the new CSS From Layer feature in Photoshop CC. This new feature generates valid CSS for all elements in selected layers. While this feature is impressive, it does not yet allow for any input as to what is spit out. So while it won’t replace the need to style websites using custom CSS, it can be pretty useful to translate things such as text styles and simple design elements.
Need a visual aid? Watch the video here.
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