Reinventing the Crop tool
Video: Reinventing the Crop toolOne of the most difficult parts of my job as the Senior Product Manager of Photoshop is deciding which areas of the application to work on and which areas not to. And one of the things that helped the most in CS6 was having access to what's called Headlights. In CS5 we implemented functionality called Headlights, which allows for an Opt-in program where we can see how people are using the application. Now we can't see a Photoshop user's images, but we can see which tools they're using, which menus they're going through, which features they're navigating through.
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In this course, Photoshop senior product manager Bryan O'Neil Hughes takes you on an insider's tour of the key photo-enhancement features in Adobe Photoshop CS6, providing details on how they work, background into their evolution, and insights into how to use them more effectively.
The course begins with an exploration of Photoshop features that make changes to an entire image: the Crop tool, the Auto button that's present in many adjustment dialog boxes, and the Curves panel options. Next, Bryan explores sharpness and blur. Each has its place in a photograph, and Bryan details how the sharpening and blur features work and how to get the most out of them.
The course also looks at adjusting specific areas of an image with the Dodge, Burn, and Sponge tools, and at the growing array of content-aware features in Photoshop, showing how they work and what to do when they don't work. The course concludes with a tour of the powerful Liquify filter, features for correcting lens distortion, and the world of presets that allow you to apply settings with a single click.
- Reinventing the Crop tool
- Rediscovering the Auto button
- Getting the most out of curves
- Understanding Smart Sharpen
- Building blur and softness
- Working with a graphics tablet
- Using Content-Aware Fill, Scale, and Move effectively
- Correcting distortion automatically based on lens profiles
- Using presets
Reinventing the Crop tool
One of the most difficult parts of my job as the Senior Product Manager of Photoshop is deciding which areas of the application to work on and which areas not to. And one of the things that helped the most in CS6 was having access to what's called Headlights. In CS5 we implemented functionality called Headlights, which allows for an Opt-in program where we can see how people are using the application. Now we can't see a Photoshop user's images, but we can see which tools they're using, which menus they're going through, which features they're navigating through.
So if someone who's charting the course on where we're going to develop the application, this is priceless. And one of the things that we found out in looking at all of that CS5 data, and we had tens of millions of records, is that overwhelmingly the most used tool was the Crop tool. And the Crop tool really hadn't been changed a lot over the course of over two decades; it had been with Photoshop since the start. It's obviously a fundamental part of the workflow, but it really hadn't changed whole a lot. It was very clear to us that there's a huge opportunity for changing the Crop tool in Photoshop.
So let me give you a look at just some of the things that we changed in the new Crop tool in Photoshop CS6. We actually changed over three dozen pieces of it, there's a whole lot here. So if I grab the Crop tool the very first thing that I notice is the entire image is selected. If you recall, you used to have to draw a rectangle across the whole image, and that was one of the first things that we saw people do every single time that they had to crop an image, they drew a rectangle around the whole thing and then they worked inward. You see you've got very clearly defined corner points here and I can start dragging that in and there are a couple of things that are different immediately.
One of the things that I notice, is I can see an overlay of my image behind there, so I always have a sense of what I'm cropping out. Now working with an unconstrained image here, I could go with the original proportions or I have a bunch of different options as far as presets. I'll talk more about those in a moment, let's just go with an unconstrained option here, and one of the things that I realize -- I'm just going to cancel this -- is the first problem with this image is it's askew, it needs to be straightened. Now if you recall the way you worked before, is I had to rotate the crop, and I can still do that, but I also have a straighten button here, and all I need to do is draw a line across something that's straight.
And you'll notice that not only does it rotate and straighten it, but it removes the edges, I don't have a white area overflowing on the sides. Photoshop is now smart enough to automatically trim the image; it's not a multi-step operation. I can hit the O key, for those of you're using Lightroom, you'll appreciate that the O key cycles my various overlays and we see that we've got all sorts of overlays. I can also come up here and see those overlays. In this particular case I'm going to use the diagonal one. And in addition to having it straight, I want to bring the focus onto the image itself, and there's also different ways to do that, but looking at this image it's obvious that the train is the center of my focus and what's above it really isn't that important.
So I'm going to pull this down so that it's more centered on this big orange ribbon across the middle, and you'll notice I'm getting this really nice overlays as I grab and pull this. Those little bits of information are entirely new to CS6, where I'm showing the dimensions of the image on screen there. If I want to move things, one of the other changes is that I'm moving the image not the crop area, so if I want to center on this woman in the middle, I just move the image until she is centered and let go.
Go ahead and apply that and everything looks great. Now if I were to move on to another tool, make some changes and then come back to my image, in the past that would have been it, my image was cropped and I was stuck with whatever I did, and we realized that creating a layer-based document so that it was editable on-the-fly was the way to get around this. So what we've done this, we've essentially given you nondestructive cropping. When you go back to the Crop tool, your original image is still there, you can still get to the full proportions of your original.
Now the control for this is right up here. You will notice that I've got Delete Cropped Pixels unchecked. If I'd checked Delete Cropped Pixels, it would have been a final crop. Everything would be removed as I did that. There are times when you want to do that, but not in this case. Now couple of other changes you should know about here, as I mentioned before, we have all sorts of different presets. 1 x 1 (Square) like you'd see for a profile image, it's going to keep the original resolution, but just force it to that aspect ratio and some other very common ones here.
Now you can also have your own that you might change whatever it might be, let's go back to an unconstrained and just come up with an unusual look and I can come in here and save this preset and it will take the proportions of whatever I'm using and save it as my own preset. I can have as many of those as I like. And some of the other changes here, I can come in here and I can rotate the Crop Box. So another one of the things that we heard from people is they wanted to, just really quickly and easily, rotate the Crop Box.
Now another one that we heard a lot about, I want to backup here is people wanted to expand the image beyond the original image and add canvas area. And there were some workarounds to do that before, but it was never really obvious. So you'll notice that by drawing out a larger crop rectangle, I'm adding canvas size to the image, and this is useful for all sorts of different things. This is really easy to do now, because I can see the full dimensions of my image.
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