- No perpetual-license option
- Premium assets aren’t cheap
- Interface can be overwhelming at times
Setting Up Photoshop
To install the application, you first install the resident Creative Cloud helper program, which handles updates and syncing your files online. This is also where you can find Adobe news, stock images, and the Behance creative social community (more about this later). In the newest update of Photoshop, you also can browse and easily install plug-ins from the Creative Cloud utility.
You should only consider installing Photoshop on a fairly powerful PC or Mac. I tested on a 3.4GHz Core i7 PC running 64-bit Windows 10 with 16GB RAM and an Nvidia GeForce 1650 graphics card. It requires 64-bit Windows 10 version 1909 or later, 8MB RAM, and 4GB available hard-disk space. It runs on Windows on ARM with the same requirements. Mac users must be running macOS 10.15 or later with 8GB RAM and a GPU with Metal support. Apple Silicon Macs can also run Photoshop as long as they’re running macOS 11.2.2 or later; PCMag’s Tom Brant ran some tests on that hardware and found it offered some performance advantages on that platform.
The Photoshop Interface
Adobe continues to make Photoshop’s interface more customizable and helpful. You can choose from among several targeted workspace layouts, including Graphic and Web, Motion, Painting, and Photography, or you can create your own custom layout of panels and windows. You can even rearrange the program’s toolbar button rail to taste.
The redesigned start screen offers New File, Open, Home, Learn, as well as your file locations, including photos you’ve uploaded through Lightroom and cloud documents shared with you. The Home icon takes you to suggested tutorials and thumbnails of your recent document. Choosing New File presents a tabbed dialog offering templates such as Textured Geometric Masks, Instant Film Mockups, and Photo Collage Layouts. Category filters across the top let you restrict the proposed templates to Photo, Print, Art & Illustration, Web, Mobile, and Film & Video. If you’ve copied an image onto the clipboard, the software gives you an option to open a new image with its exact dimensions.
You can pick from thumbnails of your recent files, and access presets and libraries from the start page. The page shows personalized tutorial content at the bottom. Those who’d rather stick with the legacy starting experience can switch back to it, but I find that the start page makes it much easier to get to things I’m interested in, such as recent projects.
The ever-present search magnifying glass icon at the top right lets you search for program functions, your own images, tutorials, or Adobe Stock images. If you already have a file open, the resulting dialog becomes a detached Discover window that presents command shortcuts and help. The panel’s Home icon shows tutorial suggestions, What’s New items, the user guide, and more resources. An always-available search function in a complex desktop application is a great idea, and some big-league software developers agree. It’s in Ableton Live and Microsoft Office, for example.
The interface also adapts to the purpose at hand. A case in point is the Select and Mask workspace, which is an available option whenever you have a selection tool active. This shows only the tools useful during selection, such as Refine Edge, Lasso, Brush, Hand, and Zoom, along with the relevant Properties 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 with excellent touch support for devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro. The company also now has a nearly fully functional iPad version of Photoshop. Not only can does it let you use touch to pan and zoom images, but it also recognizes gestures, such as a two-finger swipe to undo and a three-finger swipe to scroll through images. Larger tabs help touch-screen users, as do soft Shift, Ctrl, and Alt buttons. You can’t yet use touch for finger painting, however. For that, you might try Adobe’s Fresco app, available for iOS and Windows tablets.
Selecting objects and people in photos is one of the top functions of the application, and one of the top pain points. Photoshop still includes the venerable Lasso, Magic Wand, Marquee, as well as the newer Object and Quick selection tools (with their cool Subject Select checkbox). Of particular note is the new Select on Hover feature as well as the Select and Mask workspace along with its Refine Edge option.
Select on Hover offers a nifty way to create masks. It uses Adobe’s Sensei AI technology to detect all objects in the image, and as you hover over each, it’s highlighted for selection. Select on Hover works with the Object Selection tool, which is in the same tool button as Magic Wand and Quick Selection. Press and hold it to use it. Check the Object Finder checkbox in the option bar and Auto Show Overlay selected in the gear icon’s settings. Move the cursor around the image and you’ll see objects shaded as you go. You can tap the Show all Objects button (the square containing different-size rectangles) to show all the automatically selected objects, and a related menu option, Layer > Mask All Objects, creates separate masks for all the objects detected in a layer.
Select Subject uses AI to automatically determine and select the main object in an image. When either of these is active, a Select Subject button appears in the options bar across the top of the program windows. In testing, pressing this did a remarkable job of selecting people when the background was relatively uniform. More complex backgrounds left some incorrectly selected areas.
In my testing, the tool worked impressively, but we haven’t yet reached the holy grail of one-and-done hair selection. There was still plenty or hair that remained unselected in my test shot, and they were hairs on a plain background, clear to the human eye. I took screenshots of the tool’s handiwork, showing the original, the dotted-line selection, and the black-and-white mask view, which shows just the selected matter as white. I had a similar not-quite-perfect result with a low-resolution and high-resolution shot:
Among Adobe Photoshop 2020 Portable Crack most exciting recent features are neural filters, which let you automatically change a portrait subject’s mood, age, and gaze. Neural here is short for neural network, a subset of AI machine learning. The tools take advantage of Generative adversarial networks (GANs), which in essence, use a technique of trying to trick the AI algorithm with incorrect (or adversarial) data. Most of the new Adobe effects require a download, and they’re not small. The Landscape Mixer was over 380MB. Others, like Smart Portrait, do their processing in Adobe’s cloud, and the program is good about telling you where processing happens while using the filters.
The most interesting of such filters are in the Beta section: Smart Portrait, Harmonization, Landscape Mixer, Depth Blur, Color Transfer, and Makeup Transfer. Of the 11 tools at the time of writing only Skin Smoothing, Super Zoom, JPEG Artifacts Removal, Colorize, and Style Transfer are not considered betas.
A Wait List tab shows tools not yet available: Portrait Generator, Water Long Exposure, Shadow Regenerator, Latent Visions, and Noise Reduction. That last has me excited that Adobe will finally offer automatic noise reduction like that found in DxO PhotoLab. Seemingly no longer under consideration are the intriguing Photo Restoration, Dust and Scratches, and Face-to-Caricature options, since they don’t appear anywhere in the Neural Filters panel anymore.
With Harmonization, masked objects can be rendered in the colors and tones of other layers. It’s best for similar objects. I tried it with a portrait and a nature background, so it gave the portrait the colors of a deer and grass, which is probably not what you want.
Another new filter, Color Transfer (not to be confused with Style Transfer), lets you apply the colors and tones of one image to another. This
The new beta Landscape Mixer filters let you change a scene’s season, from, say, summer to fall, or to make a midday scene look like it was shot at sunset. In testing, the Landscape Mixer did indeed give the foliage fall colors, but it removed an egret that was in the original photo, so you’re best using it on pure landscapes.
The Super Zoom effect didn’t do much aside from applying a blurry noise reduction, but I suppose it could improve large printouts.
The face tools in Smart Portrait are more fun than practical, though they may be useful to portrait photographers if used judiciously. When I ramped up the Happiness slider on most pictures, the result was more like a forced smile than a natural one, though it can be effective if you don’t turn it all the way up. There are also sliders for Anger, and Surprise, which were surprisingly effective. The algorithm also failed to de-age the neck on some subjects. An interesting option is Retain Unique Details; if you uncheck this, your subject approaches a Barbie-doll appearance. One slider, Placement, can nudge the face selection box right or left, though it didn’t do much in my test shots. The Light Direction slider, when used judiciously, can work to good effect. The Gaze slider moves the eyes subtly, but the head direction tool wasn’t convincing in my test photos.
The Colorize tool, though impressive, failed to bring alive the hands as well as the head in an old photograph. Still, it’s clearly labeled as beta, so you can’t take points off for that. I had better luck with Photoshop Elements’ Colorize tool. On a few test photos of streets and beaches, it did nothing, but it convincingly colorized a snowy reindeer scene. The neural tools do have a Before-and-After button, but I wish it had a side-by-side view.
The final neural filter I’ll discuss is something that’s been in other photo software for a few years, notably in Cyberlink PhotoDirector. It’s the Style Transfer effect, which makes your photo look like the work of an artist such as Picasso or van Gogh. It’s a 176MB download at the time of testing. There’s a good selection of looks, with over 30 to choose from already. You can not only choose the strength of the effect, but also preserve color, focus on the subject, change brush size, and blur the background. It’s a good implementation of the effect type.
Though it’s now packed with drawing and font tools, Photoshop got its start as a photo editing and printing application, and it remains the most powerful photo editing software. Along with its completely photography-focused sibling, Lightroom, Photoshop offers the most support for raw camera files, and the most in correction and effects. From removing or adding objects with content-aware tools to lens-profile-based geometry correction to histogram adjustments to stained-glass effect filters, Photoshop has it all. It’s impossible to cover every feature here, but I’ll take a closer look at a couple of the standout tools.
Sky Replacement. For a while, Photoshop had been trailing software such as Skylum Luminar in handling skies in photos. Replacing a drab sky with a beautiful one used to be a many-step process involving manual masking and layers. Photoshop’s Sky Replacement tool is instant and awesome. You get many choices, ranging from pleasant to dazzling, and you can adjust the position, edge, brightness, and temperature of your chosen sky replacement.
Unlike some tools, which simply try to detect a horizon, Photoshop can handle images with foreground objects that block the sky, like the obelisk in the image above. You can move the sky around to get the best placement and even adjust the lighting and color of the foreground to better match the new sky. In the example, you can see how the pavement reflection changes to match the sky color.
Lens Blur. The AI-enhanced Lens Blur tool creates a more color-aware effect than its non-AI predecessor. The old lens blur is in the left image above, and the newer one is at the right. The newer tool also gives you control over bokeh shapes, which would be created by the blades of a camera iris in real lens blur. Photoshop’s simulated effects include a choice of polygons from triangles to octagons, and you can also adjust the blade curvature and rotation.
Content-Aware Crop. A few years ago, an app called Anticrop (since renamed to Recrop) gained momentary celebrity in the tech world. Why? As its name suggests, it lets change you change the aspect ratio of an image by adding to the sides instead of simply cutting them off. The Photoshop tool works similarly. Just check the Content-Aware box while using the crop tool, and the app fills in anything in the crop selection that falls outside your image’s boundaries. Content-Aware Crop resembles the Content-Aware Fill tool. Like that tool, Content-Aware crop only works well with patterned image content, such as a forest, pavement, sea, or sky. It’s particularly convincing with skies. Note in the image below all the extra clouds generated in the sky on the right to create a more spacious square composition.
Content-Aware Fill has also been updated, with an interface that shows you what source content it’s using to replace the object you want to remove. You can edit the source area, but the program does a remarkable job with no help. It has improved over last year’s version, now identifying objects that shouldn’t be part of the fill pattern.
Face-Aware Liquefy. Face detection has reached an increasingly high level of accuracy in recent years, to the point of recognizing individual facial features, as well as whole faces. Face-Aware Liquify resembles a feature we first saw demonstrated by Adobe at Apple’s iPad Pro launch event in the app called Adobe Fix. Face-Aware Liquefy tool lets you convincingly transform facial expressions, turning, for example, an RBF into a smile.
This brilliant tool finds facial features like eyes and mouths and gives you the ability to manipulate them with sliders for resizing the eyes, nose, face width, and jawline. You can even edit the eyes independently with Face-Aware Liquefy. A chain icon lets you either lock together editing of both a subject’s eyes or edit them separately.
You can apply some very flattering changes, or some ridiculously unflattering ones, as you can see in my test images. For me, the coolest part of this feature is that the resulting image still looks human. It’s not like simply smearing a portrait with the old-fashioned, face-unaware Liquify tool. Note in particular the added smile.
Camera-Shake Reduction. One of the hottest features of Photoshop is camera-shake reduction. The tool analyzes the photo to find the path 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’t be the same everywhere in the photo unless you shook it exactly along a single plane, which is highly unlikely. You can use the tool’s best guess or select a region (or regions) in which you want the blur trace to be estimated.
You can also adjust Blur Trace Bounds, Smoothing, and Artifact Suppression—the last two let me create a less sharpened-looking result. I’d love to see a simple effect-strength adjustment like you get with Smart Sharpen (which, by the way, has a Reduce Noise slider). Shake Reduction is not a panacea, but it’s definitely a finer effect than what you get from even the Smart Sharpen tool. If the subject is simply out of focus, it won’t help you; a simply blurry subject won’t be fixed.
Camera Raw Features
The Adobe Photoshop 2020 Portable Crack module appears when you open raw camera files like Canon’s CR2 and Nikon’s NEF, It seems to become more of a full photo editing tool on its own with every Photoshop update. It’s become sort of a Lightroom without the slick workflow features. For example, it lets you make local hue adjustments, rather than having to change the hue values for the whole image. It even includes the Subject Select and masking tools of the main program. The tool lets you have more than one adjustment panel open, and you can switch between vertical and horizontal filmstrip thumbnail views. You can also create presets based on images’ ISO settings and do panorama merges from a right-click.
Adobe Photoshop 2020 Portable Crack offers several advanced capabilities in its Camera Raw module, including a geometry correction tool called Upright. This lets you fix parallel vertical and horizontal lines. Its Auto setting attempts to fix perspective errors, but you can choose to align only verticals or only horizontals, or mess with the perspective to taste with transforming sliders for pincushion and barrel distortion, vertical, horizontal, and aspect ratio.
As mentioned, you can use Camera Raw as a filter, applying all its manifold photo adjustments—color temperature, exposure, geometry, all of it—to any image layer, not just to raw camera files. You can apply Camera Raw adjustments to videos, too, and use a non-circular healing brush. As in Lightroom, you also get a radial filter that lets you apply the adjustments to an oval shape, such as a person’s head.
Camera Raw Profiles give you options for how Photoshop converts raw files into viewable images. The default is Adobe Color, which produces a more vivid image than the old Adobe Standard profile. You also get Landscape, Portrait, Monochrome, and Vivid Profiles, along with a selection of retro and artistic Profiles that are essentially Instagram-style effect filters. The same Profiles feature appears in Lightroom. Read my review of that application for a more in-depth look at Profiles.
The module also now includes over 70 presets developed by pro photographers, in categories including portrait, travel, cinematic, future, and vintage. Unfortunately, a lot of the presets use nondescriptive names like FT1, FT2, FT3, and so on. They’re also a bit drab overall, with few—even in the Creative category—resulting in particularly striking effects. The Travel presets seemed the most interesting.
Dehaze is a Camera Raw feature also offered by Lightroom. Open any photo, even if it’s not in raw file format (I tried it on a mobile-phone JPG image), and this slider in the FX toolset does a pretty impressive job of removing or adding haze. Above, you can see the before and after (left to right) on a sample.
The March 2021 release added an intriguing feature called Super Resolution. It uses machine-learning AI to effectively double the resolution of your image, which is a great help if you need to print photos that you’ve cropped significantly. The update also added support for Apple’s ProRaw format and gives you more control over the interface, letting you re-order edit panels and sort the filmstrip based on date, rating, and more.
Super Resolution (left) vs. standard raw conversion (right).
The Super Resolution feature is related to the Enhance Details that landed in Photoshop and Lightroom a few years ago. You only see the Super Resolution as a checkbox option inside the Enhance dialog, which you won’t see unless you right-click on the image (Ctrl-click on macOS). In my test shot above, I saw some smoothing, with the result that the enhanced image seemed to lose detail, though for printing, smoothing pixelated edges as in the Hoopoe’s bill below, is a win. Note that it’s not an instant effect. Creating the resulting DNG file tool about 7 seconds on my test PC.
It worked even better on the geometric patterns of an architectural shot. See below. The enhanced version is on the right.
Mobile Design and Libraries
Adobe Photoshop 2020 Portable Crack has made great strides in the area of mobile design. Not only can you use views and tools intended to facilitate mobile and web design, such as Artboards and Design Space, but you can also install the Adobe Preview mobile app and see how your project looks on it. When I installed the app on my iPhone, I initially got a connection error. I was trying to connect by USB rather than Wi-Fi, though the Adobe documentation says both methods should work.
Adobe Photoshop Portable Crack – Conclusion:
The world’s best image editing software is Adobe Photoshop 2020 Portable Crack adds mind-blowing neural filters, automatic sky replacement, and even better selection tools.