Photoshop guru Russell Brown has posted a video demonstrating the power of Photoshop CS4′s “content aware scaling,” which is difficult to describe, but fairly mind-blowing once you’ve seen it in action (video link).
In a nutshell, content aware scaling enables you to resize an image on single axis without distorting any of the primary content. It works by analyzing your image and figuring out what is important and what isn’t. Generally speaking, that means that foreground subjects are left alone and backgrounds are resized independently, though the exact behavior will depend on the image you’re working with.
But squeezing backgrounds isn’t the only thing content aware scaling can handle, you can also use the “protect” feature to manually control which parts of your image are preserved and which are resized. In the video Brown walks you through how to use an alpha channel mask to selectively resize parts of your image.
Of course to get your own hands dirty with content aware scaling, you’ll have to wait until Photoshop CS4 is available later this month. In the mean time, you can drool over the possibilities highlighted in Brown’s demo.
And note that yes, Brown is, well, a bit eccentric shall we say, but he knows Photoshop better than most. If the nerd version of the monster truck rally voiceover makes you cringe, just hit mute and watch the video — content aware scaling speaks for itself.
In addition to its desktop-software announcements, Adobe is introducing a new mobile service designed to make it dead simple to upload images from a Windows Mobile smartphone.
If you’ve been looking for an easier way to get your camera-phone images posted onto the web (or wanted to do a bit of light editing before posting something to Flickr), the company’s new Photoshop.com Mobile app might be the answer.
The software, which requires FlashLite and will be released as a public beta in September, allows you to upload, back up and share your photos from a Windows Mobile smartphone. The initial release will support six mobiles: Samsung Blackjack I and II, the Palm Treo 700 and 750, and the MOTO Q 9h and Music 9m; the company says support for Android, iPhone, Symbian and RiM BlackBerry devices will be coming in 2009.
The Flash-based Photoshop.com Mobile app greatly simplifies the task up uploading images from your phone. In fact, you won’t need to do anything to upload an image to Photoshop.com — point and click to capture the shot, and in about 10 seconds the photo shows up in your online gallery, where it’s ready to be shared. You have the option to simply upload your photos and keep them private or to upload and instantly share your images through a personalized Photoshop.com URL.
While the app will automatically upload your images to Photoshop.com as soon as you take them, to pass them on to other sharing sites like Facebook or Flickr will require a separate trip to the browser (or desktop software if you’re using it). But once you log in to your Photoshop.com account, adding your photos to another service is as simple as dragging a thumbnail over to a folder on the left side of the screen marked “Flickr” and letting go.
Adobe says it’s working toward an update that will allow you to upload images with other services directly from the mobile app, but it won’t be available for the initial release.
Other features in the mobile app include full access to your Photoshop.com library and albums on your phone, as well as the ability to turn off the automatic upload service for those images you don’t want to upload.
While the iPhone has made it pretty easy to send photos to Facebook and Flickr through specialized apps, the experience just isn’t as simple on other phones. And while almost all photo-sharing services offer upload via e-mail features, the process isn’t nearly as simple as using a dedicated app. A gap exists for nontechnical users, and that’s the gap Adobe is hoping to fill with Photoshop.com Mobile.
The public beta will be available as a free download at mobile.photoshop.com at the end of September. We’ll be sure to let you know as soon as it’s ready to download.
Adobe has announced new versions of its Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements photo and video editing suites for the Windows platform. These suites are what the company refers to as its “hobbyist-level” offerings, the little siblings to its flagship editing products, Photoshop and Premiere. Which isn’t to say they’re under-powered. In fact, each application packs a substantial number of features into a $100 package, with the emphasis clearly on ease of use, online sharing and quick execution of common tasks. And while the Elements apps may fall short of expectations for professionals or “prosumers,” they will appeal greatly to their target audience: mom and dad, kids, or anyone new to working with digital media.
Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements will be available toward the end of September for Windows XP and Vista and will cost $100 each. There will be bundle available with both apps for $150. A Mac version of Photoshop Elements is due at a later date (it’s on a different release schedule than the Windows version). There is no Premiere Elements for Mac, but that gap is nicely filled by Apple’s iMovie.
The Elements line last got updated in the fall of 2007, and the newest versions of both apps pack in the enhancements. The clear standout is the integration of Adobe’s new online sharing service, Photoshop.com. Both Photoshop and Premiere Elements now offer automatic syncing and backup of your images and videos through the new Photoshop.com service. Photoshop.com is essentially Photoshop Express, combined with pieces of the new Elements desktop software.
When you fire up either Elements app for the first time, you’ll be given an option to sign up for a free Photoshop.com account (there’s also a pay version with more storage space). Once Elements has your account info, using the new features is dead simple — just select the folder you want to back up away you go. All backup and syncing operations are handled in the background — no need to wait or pause what you’re doing.
If you make some changes using the online editor at Photoshop.com, the next time you open the desktop software, it’ll update to match your changes. And don’t worry, it wont overwrite anything on your local drive — any changes will be stacked on top of the original as a non-destructive edit, much the way Photoshop Lightroom works.
For those not interested in the new online features, fear not, both apps have plenty of new features on the desktop side as well. Of course, both Elements products continue Adobe’s flagrant disregard for the user interface conventions of Windows (or any other platform), but as long as you can get past that, the new versions have some very nice new tools.
Photoshop Elements now offers a very slick Scene Cleaner feature, which builds on the Photomerge tool that debuted in the last version of Elements.
Where Photomerge was designed to combine several images to find the best overall composite (handy for group shots where Grandma closed her eyes), Scene Cleaner works in the opposite direction, taking several photos and allowing you simply brush away unwanted subjects, such as tourists cluttering up your image of the Eiffel Tower.
Also new is the Smart Brush, which makes it easy to apply pre-set effects as a mask without having to understand that that’s what you’re doing. More advanced users can then move in and change and manipulate the mask and effects. But even using the default settings, the Smart Brush is one of the easiest ways you’ll find to selectively touch up an image.
There’s also a new set of “Quick Fix” tools designed to make it easier to do common retouching tasks like whitening teeth, brightening blue skies, enhancing sunsets or softening skin, all while retaining nice sharp edges and details.
On the video editing side, the new Adobe Premiere Elements now supports AVCHD video, which should be welcome news for auteurs wielding those new tapeless HD cameras.
The software also features an InstantMovie tool that can create professional-looking effects through a simple drag and drop theming tool. There’s also a new “green screen” tool that makes it easy to merge video or superimpose your subject on top of another scene, without needing sophisticated video editing skills.
Once you’ve got your video looking the way you want it, Premiere can burn it off to DVD or Blu-ray and offers publishing options for just about any screen size — from mobile phones to HDTV. There’s also an option to upload your movie directly to YouTube.
Pricing for the new Photoshop.com web service is tiered. At the bottom level, there’s a simple Photoshop Express account, which hasn’t changed; you’ll still get 5 GB of storage for free. The next level up is the Basic Membership, which you can sign up for through either Elements app. A Basic account is still free and offers the same 5 GB storage limit, but it gives you access to the automatic backup features as well as tutorials and some additional themes.
Also available is the Photoshop.com Plus membership, which will set you back $50 per year, but bumps the storage to 20 GBs and offers a steady stream of updated themes, video tutorials, hints, trick and ideas.
New online image editor Pixlr is closer to Photoshop than web-based Adobe’s Photoshop Express. And Pixlr was created by one person.
Sweden-based developer Ola Sevandersson spent a year writing–and re-writing–his Flash-based image editor. He also maintained a full-time job as the development manager for a Swedish web community.
The reason Pixlr feels so much like a desktop app may be its menus. The standard top bar begins with File. Creating new images, or loading from your computer occurs via this menu, and it doesn’t feel buggy (except I cannot load in an image now, which could be caused by all the attention this project is receiving today). Other online image editors use HTML forms for uploading, or partially implement the desktop menu metaphor.
Maybe the best part: Pixlr is the only online image editor I’ve seen that has layers, which is a necessary feature for all but the most basic of edits. Yes, there are still some features missing, but this is already more usable for me than Photoshop Express, and other online photo editors. See links to our coverage of Pixlr’s competitors at the bottom of this post.
Webmonkey had a chance to talk to Sevandersson about Pixlr, his development process, and what he has planned for the tool.
How is Pixlr different from Photoshop Express?
The difference between PSX [Photoshop Express] and Pixlr is that while Adobe doesn’t want to create a free online replacement tool for their Photoshop Elements and other licensed software I just want to create an online tool that will satisfy the 80% of the photo enthusiasts needs. I am well aware of that it’s much more work left to do before Pixlr will accomplish what Elements do, but this is just the first beta launched.
How long did it take you to write Pixlr?
Yes, the first line of code was written in august 2007, but it was not full time and done by a single person. The code is rewritten several times to get the overall performance up and the app to work. To get the performance up and keep the size down I have written all of the controls my self and not used the built in flash controls.
Any plans to make money? A year is a long time for just a labor of love…
All you need is love and I love bitmap algorithms. The plan for Pixlr is to license the techniques and do small app spin-offs’, and there is some ides of a PRO app (Maybe on the desktop?).
What other features are coming soon?
Crop tool, text tool and more auto adjustments are the first things in the development plan. API and other development tools are on the wish list too.
The dotted line [to show selection as the user drags the mouse] will be added soon. Some features was ignored in this release, I just wanted to get the application out to the public so I could get some feedback and know if I was going in the right direction with the product.