9 Easy Cut Studio for Windows
The Photoshop Interface
Adobe keeps making Photoshop’s interface more customizable and helpful. Youcan choose from among several targeted workspace layouts, including 3D,Graphic and Web, Motion, Painting, and Photography, or you can create your owncustom layout of panels and windows. You can even rearrange the program’stoolbar button rail to taste.Choosing New Document presents a dialog offering templates such as TexturedGeometric Masks, Instant Film Mockups, and Photo Collage Layouts. Categoryfilters across the top let you restrict the proposed templates to Photo,Print, Art & Illustration, Web, Mobile, and Film & Video. If you’ve copied animage onto the clipboard, the software gives you an option to open a new imagewith its exact dimensions.You can pick from thumbnails of your recent files, and access presets andlibraries from the start page. The page shows personalized tutorial content atthe bottom. Those who’d rather stick with the legacy starting experience canswitch back to it, but I find that the start page makes it much easier to getto things I’m interested in, such as recent projects.The ever-present search magnifying glass icon at the top right lets you findprogram functions, your own images, tutorials, or Adobe Stock images. Forversion 22, the resulting dialog becomes a detached Discover window, but itstill presents command shortcuts and help. You can also click its Home icon toget to an index of tutorials, What’s New items, and the Help user guide. Ithink a search function in a complex desktop application is a great idea, andsome big-league software developers agree. Microsoft helpfully introduced itto Office 2016, for example. For context-sensitive help, the lightbulb icon isalways at the ready for quick demos of how to perform edits.The interface also adapts to the purpose at hand. A case in point is theSelect and Mask workspace, which is an available option whenever you have aselection tool active. This shows only the tools useful during selection, suchas Refine Edge, Lasso, Brush, Hand, and Zoom, along with the relevantProperties panel. The interface’s color themes offer a pleasing, context-sensitive consistency, too. If you set the window borders to be light gray,all dialogs will likewise be gray.When it comes to touch input, Photoshop is keeping up with the times withexcellent touch support for devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro. Thecompany also now has a nearly fully functional iPad version of Photoshop. Notonly can does it let you use touch to pan and zoom images, but it alsorecognizes gestures, such as a two-finger swipe to undo and a three-fingerswipe to scroll through images. Larger tabs help touch-screen users, as dosoft Shift, Ctrl, and Alt buttons. You can’t yet use touch for fingerpainting, however. For that, you might try Adobe’s Fresco app, available foriOS and Windows tablets.Another input option is enabled by Photoshop’s support for the Surface Dial,which offers a nifty way to adjust brush size, opacity, and more.
Tools for Photographers
Though it’s now packed with drawing and font tools, Photoshop got its start asa photo editing and printing application, and it remains the most powerfulphoto editing software. Along with its completely photography-focused sibling,Lightroom, Photoshop offers the most support for raw camera files, and themost in correction and effects. From removing or adding objects with content-aware tools to lens-profile-based geometry correction to histogram adjustmentsto stained-glass effect filters, Photoshop has it all. It’s impossible tocover every feature here, but I’ll take a closer look at a couple of thestandout tools.Sky Replacement. Sky Replacement. This is a new tool for the October 2020version. Photoshop had been trailing software such as Skylum Luminar, andreplacing a drab sky with a beautiful one used to be a many-step processinvolving manual masking and layers. The new tool is instant—and awesome. Youget many choices, ranging from pleasant to dazzling, and you can adjust theposition, edge, brightness, and temperature of your chosen sky replacement.Unlike some tools, which simply try to detect a horizon, Photoshop’s canhandle images with foreground objects that block the sky, like the obelisk inthe image above. You can move the sky around to get the best placement andeven adjust the lighting and color of the foreground to better match the newsky. In the example, you can see how the pavement reflection changes to matchthe sky color.Lens Blur.Lens Blur. The AI-enhanced Lens Blur tool creates a more color-awareeffect than its non-AI predecessor. The old lens blur is in the left above,and the newer is at the right. The newer tool also give you control over bokehshapes, which would be created by the blades of a camera iris in real lensblur. Photoshop’s simulated effects include a choice of polygons fromtriangles to octagons, and you can also adjust the blade curvature androtation.Content-Aware Crop. Content-Aware Crop. A few years ago, an app calledAnticrop (since renamed to Recrop) gained momentary celebrity in the techworld. Why? As its name suggests, it lets change you change the aspect ratioof an image by adding to the sides instead of simply cutting them off. ThePhotoshop tool works similarly. Just check the Content-Aware box while usingthe crop tool, and the app fills in anything in the crop selection that fallsoutside your image’s boundaries. Content-Aware Crop resembles the Content-Aware Fill tool. Like that tool, Content-Aware crop only works well withpatterned image content, such as a forest, pavement, sea, or sky. It’sparticularly convincing with skies. Note in the image below all the extraclouds generated in the sky on the right to create a more spacious squarecomposition.Content-Aware Fill has also been updated, with an interface that shows youwhat source content it’s using to replace the object you want to remove. Youcan edit the source area, but the program does a remarkable job with nohelp—it’s even improved over last year’s version, now identifying objects thatshouldn’t be part of the fill pattern.Face-Aware Liquefy. Face-Aware Liquefy. Face detection has reached anincreasingly high level of accuracy in recent years, to the point ofrecognizing individual facial features, as well as whole faces. Face-AwareLiquify resembles a feature we first saw demonstrated by Adobe at Apple’s iPadPro launch event in the app called Adobe Fix. Face-Aware Liquefy tool lets youconvincingly transform facial expressions, turning, for example, an RBF into asmile.This brilliant tool finds facial features like eyes and mouths and gives youthe ability to manipulate them with sliders for resizing the eyes, nose, facewidth, and jawline. You can even edit the eyes independently with Face-AwareLiquefy. A chain icon lets you either lock together editing of both asubject’s eyes or edit them separately.You can apply some very flattering changes, or some ridiculously unflatteringones, as you can see in my test images. For me, the coolest part of thisfeature is that the resulting image still looks human. It’s not like simplysmearing a portrait with the old-fashioned, non-face-aware Liquify tool. Notein particular the added smile at lower left.Camera-Shake Reduction. Camera-Shake Reduction. One of the hottest features ofPhotoshop is camera-shake reduction. The tool analyzes the photo to find thepath of shake motion, and then aligns the shifted pixels. It sounds simple,but it’s harder to get right than it may seem. This is because the path won’tbe the same everywhere in the photo unless you shook it exactly along a singleplane, which is highly unlikely. You can use the tool’s best guess or select aregion (or regions) in which you want the blur trace to be estimated.You can also adjust Blur Trace Bounds, Smoothing, and Artifact Suppression—thelast two let me create a less sharpened-looking result. I’d love to see asimple effect-strength adjustment like you get with Smart Sharpen (which, bythe way, has a Reduce Noise slider). Shake Reduction is not a panacea, butit’s definitely a finer effect than even the Smart Sharpen tool. If thesubject is simply out of focus, it won’t help you; a simply blurry subjectwon’t be fixed.
Adobe Stock, which emerged from Adobe’s 2015 acquisition of Fotolia, is arepository of over 40 million images, vectors, illustrations, and video clips.Non-Creative Cloud members can still buy assets from Stock. Creators can alsosell their assets and get a 33 percent cut of all sales. That’s not bad,considering that the industry standard is 25 percent.You can work within any Adobe desktop apps with Adobe Library support,including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, and After Effects.The Search Adobe Stock menu choice opens the website, on which you can searchfor content and either download or sync it to your Creative Cloud Library. Butyou can also search Stock right in the Library panel and insert it into yourimage, where it will be watermarked until you license it. After you licenseit, it retains any edits you make.
You can apply all of Photoshop’s still-image adjustments to videoclips—including exposure, cropping, and filters. Photoshop is even capable ofmultitrack and keyframing, using the same fast rendering engine that powersAdobe’s Premiere Pro video editor. Only a few transition options areavailable, however, all of them variants of fades. Each video track you addbecomes a Photoshop layer that can be individually adjusted.You also get all the standard digital video editing tools, letting you join,split, and trim clips. Audio tools are minimal, but you can set an audiotrack’s volume percent, fade it in, fade it out, or mute it. Movie files aresaved as PSDs, but by choosing File/Export/Render Video you can create a videofile with H.264, QuickTime, or DPX encoding. You also get a decent choice ofresolutions targeting both big screens and mobile devices, including 720p,1080p, and 4K options.
How to get Photoshop and other Creative Cloud applications today
Between 2012 and 2017, some Adobe professional applications were available byboth subscription and perpetual licenses. This led to confusion about whichversion to get, especially as Adobe began to hide the perpetual licenseoptions. After CS6 went off the retail market in 2017, the choice became clearonly because almost all Adobe pro applications became available exclusively bysubscription. Still, I’ve included information on how to get current versions,how to know the difference between the two versions of Lightroom, some non-subscription alternatives, and whether you should consider the second-handmarket.
The king of Adobe software is, of course, Adobe Photoshop. Now that Adobe nolonger sells CS6 applications, you can get Photoshop only through a paidCreative Cloud membership. The most affordable membership is the PhotographyPlan, which for USD $9.99 a month, includes Photoshop, Lightroom Classic, andLightroom as well as a range of online services, including Lightroom cloudstorage and syncing across devices as well as an Adobe Portfolio website (Allof that may change, so read over the current offers carefully.) If you usePhotoshop for business reasons this is probably going to be one of thesmallest business expenses you have. The relatively low cost of thePhotography Plan subscriptions means that many of the objections to it are noteconomic. (The full Creative Cloud plan, which includes nearly all Adobe proapplications, is much more costly.)The only non-subscription version of Photoshop currently for sale is PhotoshopElements, or you can use a non-Adobe Photoshop alternative. See below for moreinformation about those options.
On October 18, 2017, Adobe announced the 2018 releases of Lightroom CC andLightroom Classic CC under a choice of Creative Cloud plans; it was alsoannounced that Lightroom 6 is the last version available through a perpetuallicense.If you’re not sure about the difference between the subscription and perpetuallicense versions of Lightroom, it’s this: * Lightroom and Lightroom Classic are available as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, including the inexpensive Photography Plan. Lightroom is the newer form that stores all of your images in the cloud; Lightroom Classic is the current version of the original Lightroom that stores all of your original images on your own local storage. These versions have Creative Cloud-specific features, such as the ability to sync with Lightroom in the cloud and on other devices. They are eligible for all Lightroom updates, which can contain new features or bug fixes. (These applications were formerly called Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC, but Adobe dropped the CC after it was no longer necessary to distinguish the subscription and perpetual license versions.) * Lightroom 6 was sold as a perpetual license. The last perpetual license version of Lightroom was Lightroom 6. Introduced in 2015, Adobe stopped selling it in 2019. In terms of features, the main difference is that Lightroom 6 didn’t connect or sync to any Creative Cloud services such as Lightroom Photos. Lightroom 6 received bug fixes as they become available, but new features added to the subscription version of Lightroom were not added to the perpetual license version. Lightroom 6 will not receive any further major upgrades; the equivalent of Lightroom 7 was Lightroom Classic CC (version 7) which is subscription-only.For several years you could buy Lightroom 6 (perpetual license, nosubscription) from Amazon.com, B&H, and Adorama. But when I checked on March31, 2019, the only one of those three links that still worked was for B&H.Finally, some time around October 10, 2019, B&H withdrew Lightroom 6 from saleand listed it as Discontinued. Again, Adobe has stopped selling new or upgradelicenses for Lightroom 6 directly from their website.If you find a copy of Lightroom 6 and are thinking about buying it, keep thefollowing in mind: * Lightroom 6 is no longer supported or receiving updates, so raw files of newer cameras may not be supported. * The Lightroom 6 feature set is falling further behind Lightroom Classic. For example, it lacks features such as Dehaze and Texture, and does not include the performance enhancements and improved GPU support in Lightroom Classic. * After November 30, 2018, the live map view in Lightroom Classic 7.5 and earlier no longer works because the connection to the map server has changed (The rest of the Map module still works). The live map view has been updated and continues to function in the current versions of Lightroom Classic (version 8 or later) and Lightroom (version 2 or later). * On macOS, some Lightroom 6 components won’t run on macOS 10.15 Catalina, preventing it from being installed or uninstalled. Lightroom 6 may work if it was already installed before upgrading to macOS 10.15 Catalina.
Non-subscription alternatives from Adobe: Photoshop Elements and Premiere
ElementsYears ago, hobbyists and non-professionals used to buy the full version ofPhotoshop because it was one of the few applications that could do a good jobof editing images. Today many of those users may be satisfied with recentversions of Photoshop Elements. It’s sold from many retailers as a perpetuallicense for under USD$100, no subscription needed or available.Over time many advanced features in recent versions of Photoshop (such ashealing, hair selection, camera shake reduction, and panorama merge) have beenhanded down to Photoshop Elements, so some areas of Photoshop Elements aremore powerful than older versions of Photoshop.Here’s an intriguing option: A non-Adobe plug-in called Elements+ unlocks along list of Photoshop features that are present but hidden in the Elementsversion. Elements+ is not free, but using Elements+ with Photoshop Elementsgets you a lot closer to the full version of Photoshop, and the combined non-subscription price of both is still reasonably low.For video editing, Premiere Elements serves a similar consumer audience, andis also sold as perpetual license software.
Alternatives outside Adobe
Photo editing software has matured greatly since the days when Photoshop wasthe clear standout. On the Mac, hobbyists and others needing something moreadvanced than Apple Photos can turn to Acorn, Pixelmator, Polarr, and others.However, photo editors at that level tend to be missing features that advancedand professional users rely on in Photoshop. If you do need more advancedfeatures such as support for true camera raw editing and non-RGB color modes(such as CMYK and Lab) and ICC profile conversions, take a look at AffinityPhoto. That affordable application seems much closer to Photoshop than mostother alternatives. GIMP is also a frequently mentioned Photoshop alternative;it’s mature and powerful but can be challenging to learn.Affinity is the developer to watch here. Before Affinity Photo they releasedAffinity Designer, a legitimate alternative to Adobe Illustrator. In June2019, Affinity released Publisher, a potential alternative to Adobe InDesign.This means Affinity now has a trio of perpetual license desktop applicationsthat covers much of the same ground as the old Adobe Creative Suite. Serif(the parent company of Affinity) certainly has the background to build it, asthey are the developer of the long-established PhotoPlus, DrawPlus, andPagePlus applications for Windows. Affinity has also said they are working ona digital asset manager, which could compete with Adobe Lightroom or Bridge.For pure raw processing, alternatives to Lightroom and Camera Raw includeCapture One, DxO PhotoLab, ON1 Photo Raw, Skylum Luminar, and the free/opensource Darktable, Lightzone, and RawTherapee. These are generally very capableraw processors. If you value the organizational features in Lightroom youshould evaluate the alternatives carefully, because in general their photoorganization features are not as strong as their raw development features.Some enjoy using Apple Photos enhanced with editing extensions made by Skylum,DxO and others. These extensions bring the image-editing capabilities ofPhotos closer to Lightroom. But because these extensions are created bymultiple developers, the editing experience is less integrated and consistentthan in Lightroom. Another problem is that the organizational abilities ofApple Photos fall well short of what Lightroom can do, and so far, it lookslike extensions are not able to improve that area of Photos.
8. Adobe Photoshop CS6
Adobe Photoshop CS6 is an alternative Graphics and Design software, AdobePhotoshop CS6 installed on-premises or used cloud based, Adobe Creative Cloudcan be used on the cloud. Adobe Photoshop CS6, with a pricing score of 6.6 isconsidered more expensive to implement than Adobe Creative Cloud with a scoreof 4.8.Adobe Photoshop CS6 is rated 4.8 stars by ITQlick experts, both softwareproducts offer a good range of features (Adobe offers 6 main features).Compare head to head: Adobe Photoshop CS6 Vs Adobe Creative Cloud
9. Easy Cut Studio for Windows
Easy Cut Studio for Windows is an alternative Graphics and Design software,Easy Cut Studio for Windows cloud, Adobe Creative Cloud can be used on thecloud. Easy Cut Studio for Windows, with a pricing score of 3.2 is consideredless expensive to implement than Adobe Creative Cloud with a score of 4.8.Easy Cut Studio for Windows is rated 3.2 stars by ITQlick experts, bothsoftware products offer a good range of features (Easy offers 3 mainfeatures).Compare head to head: Easy Cut Studio for Windows Vs Adobe Creative Cloud
10. Adobe Flash
Adobe Flash is an alternative Graphics and Design software, Adobe Flash usedon the cloud, Adobe Creative Cloud can be used on the cloud. Adobe Flash, witha pricing score of 6 is considered more expensive to implement than AdobeCreative Cloud with a score of 4.8.Adobe Flash is rated 3.2 stars by ITQlick experts, both software productsoffer a good range of features (Adobe offers 4 main features).Compare head to head: Adobe Flash Vs Adobe Creative Cloud