posted Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 12:01 AM EST


There's good news for Adobe Creative Cloud subscribers today, as the company announces the very thing you're paying those regular subscription fees for -- free updates and new features. Alongside new versions of Adobe Illustrator CC and InDesign CC, Adobe Photoshop CC arrives with a variety of new features. Most aren't really terribly interesting from a photography perspective, but two stand out as very worthwhile.

The majority of the changes in Photoshop CC revolve around 3D printing, further extending the app's 3D capabilities into the physical world. There are also of Adobe's so-called "Just Do It" changes, small tweaks that are intended to make a big improvement in usability, with the majority of these being related to layers, color samplers, and text entry. A couple -- the ability to name layers with up to 255 characters, and improved support for negative numbers in Curves adjustments -- may still be handy for photographers. Depending on your workflow, you may also find Linked Smart Objects, which allow live updating of Smart Objects from external files -- to be compelling. But the landmark photo changes are an improved Smart Sharpen tool, and a new Perspective Warp tool.

We'll kick off with Smart Sharpen, since Perspective Warp will likely get all the publicity. The tool itself and its underlying algorithms are, we understand, unchanged. However, Smart Sharpen is now GPU-accelerated, using the Mercury Graphics Engine. That means on recent, supported graphics cards, Smart Sharpen operations should be much quicker, which is great news for high-megapixel images that need just a little kick of added sharpness without boosting noise levels.

Perspective Warp will be the big new feature in Photoshop CC, from a typical photographer's perspective.

Perspective Warp -- which sits alongside the existing Warp and Puppet Warp tools -- is designed to make light work of some fairly radical perspective corrections. The idea is that by placing two separate grids on your subject -- perhaps linked together -- you can indicate where the vanishing points in the photo should be. You can then change the perspective of the image, for example to make it look as if you'd changed the camera position by moving it forwards, backwards, or sideways. And you can also apply Perspective Warp effects to cut'n'pasted subjects, solving the problem of trying to get the subject's perspective to match that of the image you're pasting them into (or vice versa.)

Watch the video above for an idea of how it all works. Perspective Warp and the other new features are available only to Photoshop CC subscribers, whether they're subscribing to the whole Creative Cloud bundle, just the one app, or are using the Photoshop Photography Program deal to get both Photoshop and Lightroom together at a discounted rate. Customers wanting retail software with no ongoing subscription have no choice but to remain with Photoshop CS6, which is still available for purchase but is excluded from receiving any new features beyond updated raw file support.

The other new features in Photoshop CC, summed up.