Adobe Photoshop CC 2019 review: Popular features reach new levels for a streamlined workflow

Photoshop CC, Adobe’s flagship image editing
app, remains an industry standard because of its innovative
vision of how the software can assist photographers and graphic
designers in doing their jobs. While technically, Photoshop’s
subscription model frees it from the tyranny of yearly
upgrades, Adobe still announces high-profile updates on a
yearly schedule. Having dispensed with commercial version
numbers (it is now at version 20), Adobe now renames the app
according to the prospective year.

If you already use Photoshop CC, then you are either a Creative Cloud or a Photography Plan subscriber, which means that
the Photoshop 2019 update is automatically available. If you
are not a subscriber, new features in the 2019 version may
inspire you to give the app a try.

The 2019 version offers improvements to existing features like
Content Aware Fill and Home Screen, as well as new tools like
the Frame Tool and dynamic Blend Mode previews. It even adds
something many felt it should have had all along: a Color
Wheel. The Symmetry Mode, which was a technical beta in the
last version, has now been fully implemented, letting you paint
brush strokes in a symmetrical pattern.

Improvements to the interface, like matching the font size to
the app’s controls, makes the experience more cohesive. A
single click in the Preferences scales toolbars, icons,
buttons, labels, and panels according to type size—tiny, small,
medium, and large.

photoshop cc 2019 ui interface
Jackie Dove

You can now scale the interface to the font size.

The new version of Photoshop revamps some common key commands
to match most other programs. The new Undo (Command-Z) makes
sense to most people, though it might be a challenge to the
muscle memory of current Photoshop users who have long been
accustomed to a different key combo and the Step Backward
command for multiple undos. Similarly, Transforming a layer no
longer needs the Shift key to preserve aspect ratio as you
resize. You can now have Photoshop do math calculations in the
image sizing tool or other fields that call for numeric values.

photoshop cc 2019 home screen
Jackie Dove

Adobe has fashioned the home screen into a centralized
resource for recent shots, tutorials, and your Lightroom
catalog that you can access at any time via a new Home icon
in the Options bar.

Color Wheel

photoshop cc 2019 color wheel
Jackie Dove

Finally, Photoshop features a native Color Wheel.

The absence of a color wheel, à la Corel Painter, has always
irked some users, and now Photoshop 2019 sports one. It
operates the same way as classic color wheels, and will
doubtless please many users who no longer have to rely on a
third-party color wheel plugin.

Content Aware Fill Workspace

Content Aware Fill is an algorithm that “sees” what’s behind an
unwanted or distracting object in your image, allowing you to
remove it without a trace, and replacing it with the background
that would have been there. This year, Photoshop leans into the
content aware process with a new command and accompanying
workspace that offers tools and options for more precise and
complex fills.

You can now use an AI-enhanced live preview (powered by Adobe’s
Sensei artificial intelligence engine) to pick and choose which
part of the image the program should sample or exclude for
precise control over the results. This update to the Content
Aware Fill feature let me remove an unwanted object from a
photo I’ve been working on literally for years—an extremely
challenging job that I was unable to accomplish with previous
versions.

photoshop cc 2019 content aware fill 1 Jackie Dove

Gotta lose the white shirt guy holding the beer. Use the
new Content Aware Fill command.

photoshop cc 2019 content aware fill 2 Jackie Dove

The ability to control the fill sampling completely removes
the white shirt guy and provides a great place to crop for
a pleasing composition.

Live Blend Mode Preview

Live Blend Mode is another timesaver for the Photoshop
workflow, letting you cycle through every blend mode with just
a mouse hover to see how each would look if applied. It’s also
great for newcomers to get quick idea of what blend modes can
do.

Caption: Live Blend Mode preview lets you try each option
directly on your image without a mouse click.

photoshop cc 2019 blend mode preview Jackie Dove

Live Blend Mode preview lets you try each option directly
on your image without a mouse click.

Frame Tool

The friendly new Frame Tool makes masking easier for new users
by creating a placeholder for frames in your images. That way
you can place any image into the frame and it will
automatically resize to fit the window you created. You can
create as many frames as you want in a layout. Once images are
inside the frame, you can transform, move, or swap them.

photoshop cc 2019 frame tool
Jackie Dove

The new Frame Tool lets you draw rectangular or elliptical
frames into which you can drag and drop any image you want
for a perfect fit.

Bottom line

With Photoshop CC 2019, the question is not whether to upgrade:
Creative Cloud or Photography Plan users already made that
decision. It’s more about whether you want to invest in the
subscription to get its top notch new features.

If you are an advanced amateur, photo enthusiast, or pro
photographer or designer, give Photoshop CC 2019 a try. The
Photography Plan costs $9.99 per month, and it includes
Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic CC, Adobe Spark with premium
features, Portfolio, and 20GB of online storage. Enhancement of
the Content Aware Fill feature alone is worth the price of
admission, with the Frame Tool and Blend Mode previews as close
runners-up.

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