Photoshop for years has been beloved by photographers for twisting a little reality by putting eyes into sockets that were closed, removing ugly braces and smoothing skin. Now it’s going way further.
New tools being introduced today will let you change the color of a bland sky with one click, make a frowning person open his or her mouth and smile and colorize old black and white photos. What can be achieved would have taken hours of painstaking work in the past, says Scott Kelby, the photographer/author who teaches Photoshop classes at his KelbyOne website.
“At best, replacing a sky would have taken at least 20 minutes to 30 minutes before,” he says. “Now it can be done in five seconds.”
The tools are being introduced at the Adobe Max conference, which software giant Adobe stages for web and graphic designers and photographers. This year, the conference is virtual, and free to all attendees. Adobe has pulled out a star-studded guest roster to appear along with the usual collection of Adobe execs touting new use cases and ways to master the software.
Late-night TV host Conan O’Brien is the co-host the opening keynote, and other celebs include actresses Gwyenth Paltrow, Awkwafina and Zendaya, filmmakers Wes Anderson and Ava DuVernay, photographer Annie Liebowitz and artist Shepard Fairey. They will speak about their art between tech sessions about improving Photoshop and Illustrator skills.
Kelby says that five years ago, many photographers were purists who believed that changing a sky was “fakery” but have become more accepting of the practice, since it’s so wide spread. The ease of clicking a button and adding a sky in seconds “is a huge deal,” he says
The new tools, available for the desktop and iPad, uses artificial intelligence, by going through thousands of photos, to make the quick changes to your photos. They can be found in the “Neural Filters” section of the Filters tab in Photoshop.
Similar tools have been available, primarily in consumer smartphone apps, but the results haven’t been as refined, nor have the photos been saved to their high-resolution images. Photoshop is available on a subscription basis for a variety of prices, starting at $9.99 monthly.
We tested the pre-release and were particularly jazzed by the sky replacement, which worked exactly as advertised, changing the hue of a white sky to a light blue, or adding clouds in addition, if we wanted.
You can tell in the images below that the added blue sky over the Manhattan Beach Pier looks flawless, while the portrait of photographer Charlotte “Ginger” DiNunzio isn’t as smooth. You can see some of the rough images around her face.
The sky change filter can be found in the edit menu, while a series of other “Neural Filters,” appear in the Filter section of Photoshop, where you can do all sorts of oddball things, from adding a smile to a frowning face or turning a sketch into a photo.
Our experience was that Adobe’s demo photos were way more on the money than ours. Look below for the before and after. Does the smile look natural to you?
The new tools are available for the desktop and iPad version of Photoshop, but not for the Photoshop smartphone ap.