Friday, 4 July 2014

Photoshop CC 2014: The best new features

As you’ve probably heard by now, Adobe just launched a series of upgrades to its entire Creative Cloud lineup. The upgrade is free for those who have a Creative Cloud subscription and “2014″ is now added to the title so you can be sure you’re using the latest version.
The list of upgrades is extensive, but for this article we’ll be  focusing on the most important new features in Photoshop CC 2014.

New splash screen

This isn’t a feature nor is it really important, but it does stand out immediately as you open up Photoshop CC 2014. The same layout is applied to all products in the Adobe line and it’s a nice way of letting you know when you’ve upgraded.
Photoshop CC 2014 splash page
I don’t know why, but I was expecting new artwork every day. This seems to be all we get. Nice touch anyway. Let’s move on to the real stuff.

Enhanced Smart Guides

This is truly a gem and after you’ve used it for a few minutes you can’t help but wonder why wasn’t this introduced sooner? Smart guides have always helped us with our workflow by allowing us to perfectly align our layers. Now Photoshop will actually show you the distance between elements.
Here are 3 great ways to take advantage of the new feature:

1. Show the distances from the edges of the canvas to the active layer

Have your layer selected, hold the ‘Ctrl’ key while you have the Move Tool active, move your cursor over the canvas and Photoshop will show you the distances from the edges of the canvas to the edges of your layer.
Photoshop CC 2014 enhanced smart guides 1
Note: If you hold ‘Ctrl’ but you keep your cursor over the layer on the canvas, you won’t get any measurements.

2. Show the distances between 2 layers

Have 1 layer selected, hold ‘Ctrl’ while having the Move Tool active, and then position your cursor over another layer on the canvas. Photoshop will show you the distance between them. You no longer have to measure things by using the Rectangular Marquee tool or the Ruler tool.
Photoshop CC 2014 enhanced smart guides 2

3. Matched spacing

When creating copies of a layer, Photoshop will help you by snapping your 3rd copy into place to create equal space between all 3 layers. This is basically an automatic “distribute horizontal/vertical centers” command.
Photoshop CC 2014 enhanced smart guides 3
Note: This feature only shows up when you have a minimum of 3 layers in a line, whether it’s vertical or horizontal

Improved upsampling

When you enlarge an image (upsampling) in Photoshop, it will start getting blurry or pixelated. The more you do it, the lower the quality. By converting the layer into a Smart Object, Photoshop tries to maintain the image details and keep things nice and crisp.
Now with an improved engine, upscaling is better than ever. You can enlarge your layers more efficiently without losing as much quality. The details are considerably better preserved and, while the results aren’t as good as a vector enlargement, it’s still a clear improvement.

Resolving missing fonts

Whenever you open up a project with missing fonts, Photoshop will now help you resolve the issue through TypeKit integration. A window will display what missing fonts are available on TypeKit and – if your font is there –  will automatically sync that font to your system so you can immediately use it. If the font isn’t available, you can replace it with something similar.
Photoshop CC 2014 missing font resolution

Fonts search & previews

You can now preview what your text layers will look like by scrolling through your available fonts. Have at least one text layer selected and move through your options by using your mouse scroll or the arrow keys. If you want to skip a font family simply hold down the ‘Shift’ key. If you’re not happy with your options, click anywhere on the canvas and you’ll revert to the original font.
You can also search through all of the typefaces installed on your computer. Just click and start typing.
Note: You have to be careful where you click because sometimes you will select the entire font, including its weight, while other times you may end up selecting just the font family.
So far I’ve had situations where I ended up with fragments like what you see underneath because I didn’t click in the right place. Use Ctrl+A and then start typing if that happens.
Photoshop CC 2014 font search
Here I’m trying to change Roboto Bold to Arial. The outcome is less than ideal.

 Advanced Layer Comps

This features has been enhanced and makes it very easy to toggle back and forth between big design options. The idea is simple – you’ve created a design, but aren’t sure about some key elements (let’s say the color scheme and the images used). You finish up your first option and create your first comp. Then you proceed to change things up and you create another comp. Now it’s very easy for you to compare your designs and see which one is better.
Photoshop CC 2014 advanced layer comp
You also see a bunch of options regarding the aspects of the design you want to update – whether it’s position, visibility or effects. This allows for greater control and makes saving several PSD files for each option redundant.


Is this upgrade worth it? First of all, it’s free to upgrade if you already have a Creative Cloud subscription – so no worries there. If you’re still using CS6, the improvements in CC alone are more than enough reason to upgrade. What you get with the Photoshop CC 2014 version is a substantial bonus.
There are other cool features integrated into the new 2014 package, like Focus masks and better content-aware performance, but I wanted to focus on the upgrades that you’ll benefit from regularly.
The one thing to be wary of when upgrading is the use of plugins. Adobe changed how Photoshop handles them, so developers are scrambling to update their products. I’m sure this is just a temporary issue that will be solved in the weeks to follow.
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