Elements 12 is designed to be all things to all people, offering simple image fixes for beginners, Guided edits for those who want to try something more ambitious and learn about the Elements editing tools at the same time, and Expert mode, where you have full manual control and can achieve many of the effects you can get in Photoshop.
The Quick mode has been part of Elements for a while, but in version 12 it now includes Effects, Textures and Frames, so you can quickly create a range of effects without having to know much about Elements or even leave the Quick mode.
It’s effective enough, and certainly worth having, though there are limitations and some odd quirks which could trip up the unwary. So here’s a quick guide to what it can do and how it works. I’m going to start with this simple landscape shot taken on my iPhone.
This panel is the same as the one in Elements 11. There are a variety of simplified image enhancement tools for improving your picture’s tone and colour. Here, I’ve selected the Smart Fix panel, where you choose the rendition you like most from the little grid of thumbnails.
To be perfectly honest, the adjustments in this panel don’t always make things simpler. Once you’ve got the hang of Levels adjustments and other everyday image controls in the Expert mode, you’ll find all of this here to be quite slow and confusing.
The first few times I used this I really liked it. You get ten preset effects which match the kind of treatments you might get in a smart phone app, for example. The only thing is that the thumbnails in the sidebar do take a few moments to render, and you don’t have any control over the effects. You accept them as they are or skip this step and apply an effect later in Expert mode. This effect is called ‘Scary Movie’.
Again, this is Adobe’s attempt to catch up with smartphone and desktop image effects tools. You can apply textures in Expert mode easily enough when you understand layers and blend modes, but here even novices can have a go. This one is called ‘Blue Grid’. The Effects panel is a nice idea, but it would be better if there was a wider choice.