The big news from the Adobe MAX 2017 event is the new version of Lightroom CC and how it differs from Lightroom Classic, which will continue, but Adobe has also announced a new version of Photoshop CC. The improvements are less significant than the changes to Lightroom but could still prove interesting.

One of the major pushes with this version of Photoshop CC is to make the software easier to use for beginners and to introduce lesser-known features and techniques to photographers who haven’t tried them yet. This is done with a new Learn panel that has step by step tutorials reminiscent of the Guided Edits in Photoshop Elements, but with a cleaner, more contemporary look.

That’s not all. Photoshop CC now has ‘rich’ tooltips that display a graphical guide to the tool and what it does when you move the mouse pointer over it. The 20 tools used most often have animated GIFs showing them in use.

Photoshop CC update

Many of the updates in Photoshop CC are aimed at designers and illustrators, but the new Curvature Pen tool could prove useful for making precise selections.

Photoshop CC will now also show Lightroom CC photos on its start screen, integrating neatly with Adobe’s new cloud-based image storage system – though you can also start from within Lightroom CC and open images in Photoshop from there.

There’s a new Curvature Pen tool which is probably most useful to artists and designers, but which could also be useful to photographers as an alternative tool for making precise selections with adjustable control points.

Photoshop’s Select and Mask tools have been improved in this version. Adobe says you’ll now get more accurate and realistic results, a faster Quick Mask mode and improved accuracy from the Refine Edge tools.

Adobe Camera Raw also gets the improved local adjustment tools that feature in the new Lightroom Classic. The Color and Luminance Range Mask tools can be used to create precise adjustment masks based on colour and luminance values, potentially saving a great deal of manual brush work.

Adobe says Photoshop CC will now be better at recognising and preserving skintones in faces during a variety of operations, including content-aware move, levels adjustments and skin tone color range adjustments. Face-detection is improved in the Face-Aware Liquify mode, which uses Adobe’s Sensei machine-learning technology.

Photoshop CC update

Adobe says it has also improved the performance of its masking tools.

Other improvements include 360 image editing, the ability to import depth maps from Apple’s HEIF format, better compression of PNG files and the ability to copy and paste layers within and between documents.

There are substantial changes to Photoshop’s Brush tools, too, with enhanced presets, better brush preset management, brush stroke smoothing and a new feature called ‘symmetry painting’ which is what Adobe calls a ‘tech preview’ – an experimental new feature you can turn on and off.

Designers will appreciate Photoshop CC’s new Variable Fonts and the ability to add words as plain text, and Adobe says there are general performance improvements too for common actions including File > New, compositing and blending, Surface Blur and Median filters and Photoshop’s virtual memory system.

Photoshop CC is available as part of Adobe’s regular Photography Plan, but with the release of Lightroom CC there are now additional plans with different options. The new Lightroom CC plan, introduced alongside the existing plan, does not include Photoshop. See this Lightroom CC story for more information.