Adobe has launched Photoshop CC 2014, a new full-point update that extends the software’s GPU-accelerated Mercury Graphics Engine, and expands its blur effects and Smart Objects functionality.
New Blur effects and Focus Mask tool
Of the new features, the most eye-catching are the new Blur effects.
Spin Blur acts like an amped up version of Radial Blur for creating elliptical blurs – for example, motion blur on the wheels of a moving car – with settings to mimic real-world stroboscopic photography.
Motion Blur does just what it says, with the user dragging on-screen control points to create blur along a motion path. There are options to adjust path tapering; or use more than one motion path.
Users can also adjust depth blur effects manually using the new Focus Mask feature (shown below), which automatically selects those parts of the image that share the same depth of field.
OpenCL-powered GPU acceleration
All three new tools are powered by the GPU-accelerated Mercury Graphics Engine, expanded in the update to improve performance on other image-editing tasks: Adobe promises image upsampling is “up to 15 times faster”.
While previous releases of Adobe tools favoured Nvidia GPUs, the talk this time is of OpenCL, not CUDA. The list of officially supported graphics cards now includes any mid-to-high end AMD or Nvidia pro or gaming card.
Other toolsets receiving updates include Content-Aware Fill (better performance when matching a background colour gradient) and Smart Objects (links to external files can now be packaged in a single directory).
Features for graphic and web designers
The other features will be of more interest to designers than CG professionals, including updates to Smart Guides and Generator, and integration with Typekit, Adobe’s commercial online font service.
A complete new install, not an upgrade
Two other points of note. The first is that CC 2014 isn’t an upgrade to existing installations of Photoshop: it’s a complete new install in its own right.
Adobe’s FAQs suggest that after you are “comfortable” with CC, you should “feel free to uninstall CS6” – so this is a complete break with the pre-Creative Cloud past.
The other is that there’s a new Experimental Features section, where Adobe can roll out tools still in beta. They’re disabled by default, and the current set are largely aimed at mobile users, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.
Pricing and availability
Photoshop CC 2014 is available now as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription packages.
You can subscribe to Photoshop and Lightroom for $9.99 a month – originally a temporary offer, but now looking like a permanent pricing plan – or subscribe to all of Adobe’s apps for $49.99 a month.