Artwork by Danner Orozco

At Adobe MAX, Adobe has introduced a wide range of updates to its Creative Cloud software. We're focused on the changes to Adobe's photo editing software, so let's start with the new additions in Adobe Lightroom.

Adobe Lightroom updates

The updates to the Lightroom ecosystem make it easier to use masking workflows, remove unwanted elements from images, and utilize AI masks on mobile platforms. More advanced AI-powered masking is available on Lightroom for desktop, Lightroom Classic and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). This time last year, Adobe introduced re-envisioned selective adjustment tools, including Select Sky and Select Subject. Today, Adobe builds upon these tools with all-new Select People, Select Objects, and Select Background. Powered by Adobe Sensei, Adobe's AI technology, retouching portraits is much easier with the new Select People. The software can detect and generate high-quality masks for individuals or groups in any portraits and can select specific body parts, such as face skin, body skin, eyes, teeth, lips, hair and more.

You can select an entire person or specific parts of an image when creating a new mask

Similarly, Select Objects is 'now the quickest and most flexible way to mask objects in Lightroom,' says Adobe. You paint over the desired object with Brush Select or draw a rectangle around the object with Rectangle Select. The AI will then automatically refine the edges to create a precise mask.

You can select an object with a rectangular selection tool or by manually brushing roughly over the subject you wish to select

The new Select Background option makes it easier to choose the background of an image. Before, you could use Select Subject and then invert the mask. Now you can achieve the same result in one less step.

On Lightroom for desktop, Lightroom Classic, ACR and iOS/iPadOS, Adobe has introduced Adaptive Presets for portraits. Adaptive Presets aren't new, having been introduced this past summer, but using them on portraits is a new feature, and they're now available on mobile. They were previously exclusive to desktop. Adaptive Presets for portraits allows the user to quickly enhance an entire portrait or target specific features like eyes, teeth or eyebrows.

On mobile, Adaptive Presets for sky and subject are now available. These were previously available only on desktop.

There are a couple of updates to masking in general. You can now adjust the intensity of masked edits on Lightroom for desktop. Further, AI masking is now available on Android devices using server-side support. Since a server provides the AI masking, all Android users can take advantage, no matter the power of their device.

Across all Lightroom apps, there's a new Content-Aware Remove feature. Based on the same technology as Content-Aware Fill, Content-Aware Remove will adaptively fill in removed 'blemishes' based on the surrounding content. You can also manually select the sampled area for more fine-tuned control.

Using Content-Aware Remove, the user has selected and removed a tree from behind the tiger's head and rear

On Lightroom for desktop, users can access full edit functionality while in Compare mode, allowing users to edit images side by side. The update also promises faster image loading and shorter export times.

On Lightroom Classic, you can now swap the left and right panels for all modules or just for develop. This means you can move your editing sliders to the left-hand side of the workspace. On Windows, import times from portable devices have been reduced.

If you want your editing tools in Lightroom to be on the left-hand side, that's now possible

In Adobe Camera Raw, you can now adjust Curves for local selections. This feature will be added to Lightroom in the future. Further, Adobe has added HDR support to ACR via a Tech Preview.

Finally, Adobe has updated Lightroom Academy with new food, travel and night photography content. Lightroom Academy also sports an updated user interface to help make it easier for photographers to find the educational content they're looking for.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe has also released major updates to Photoshop on desktop, iPad and Photoshop on the web (in beta testing within select markets).

On Photoshop on desktop, Adobe has improved its Object Selection tool. First introduced in 2020, the updated tool promises improved fidelity and selection quality. The types of objects Photoshop recognizes have also been expanded. The Object Selection tool recognizes complex objects and regions like the sky, buildings, water, flora, different types of ground/flooring, and more. You can learn more about this tool here.

In this case, the user has clicked on the person. However, you can also click on the laptop, cup, or background. Once selected, Photoshop creates a refined, precise mask of the selected subject.

Like the Content-Aware Remove feature added to Lightroom, Photoshop has a one-click Delete feature powered by Sensei-powered Object Selection and Content-Aware Fill. By clicking on an object and pressing Shift+Delete, Photoshop will remove an object and fill in its location in a single action.

If you want to remove the compass, shown selected in blue, you click on the object and then press Shift+Delete. Photoshop will then remove the selected object and fill in using surrounding content.

For users who regularly switch between Photoshop and Illustrator, you can now copy/paste live, editable text from Illustrator to Photoshop. Adobe writes, 'Pasting live type as layers preserves type attributes such as font, font style, size, alignment, orientation, tracking, kerning, and color in Photoshop. Other more advanced typographic options such as area type, type on a path, and touch type are also supported.'

Photoshop's Neural Filters have continued to push the limits of AI technology and photo editing. For the latest Photoshop release, Adobe has added a new Photo Restoration Neural Filter to the app. Using machine learning, the filter detects and eliminates imperfections on old photos.

Many Photoshop users share Photoshop files every day. Share for Review has been added as a beta feature in the new release. You can create a snapshot of your document and invite someone to comment on it. Comments are visible in real-time within Photoshop. You can continue to work on the file, and each time it's updated, people you've shared it with can see the changes.

Another beta feature is Content Credentials. With this feature, Photoshop users can attach attribution information to their images when exporting from Photoshop. It establishes an edit trail for images that have been changed or otherwise edited. Content Credentials is an opt-in feature for Creative Cloud subscribers. If you enable it, all edits and identity information is captured.

You can export images from Photoshop with included content credentials (beta)

On Photoshop on iPad, there is a litany of new features. Using Select Subject technology, users can now remove the background with just one click. There's also one-tap content-aware fill on iPad now. Using Adobe's AI technology, Select Subject has been improved on iPad. The software now identifies photos of people, animals, objects and more.

Rounding out the major changes to Photoshop on iPad is one-tap Auto Tone, Auto Contrast and Auto Color commands. For more information on these new one-tap features, click here.

In Photoshop on iPad, it's now possible to perform one-tap automatic corrections

Last year, Adobe launched Photoshop on the web. This allowed more people to enjoy Photoshop with an intuitive, more accessible user interface. Photoshop on the web doesn't yet include all of Photoshop's features. Still, many of the software's most popular tools are available, including Object Selection, Remove Background, Adobe Camera Raw image adjustments and Content-Aware Fill. Photoshop subscribers can find and try Photoshop on the web by going to the All Apps section of Creative Cloud home.

Adobe and AI: A new wave of AI tools in Creative Cloud

Adobe has been experimenting with Generative Artificial Intelligence. This technology is like what you see with tools like DALL-E 2. You type in a semantic phrase, and then AI builds whatever you describe.

While this technology is incredible, it has raised concerns about AI artwork. How do we know if a person or computer creates something? How is existing artwork being used to train AI models, and what does that mean? Adobe writes, 'From the launch of Photoshop to the rise of 3D, Adobe has a 40-year history of helping lead the creative community through technological transformations in how we create. We are committed to helping lead this transition by implementing Generative AI in our tools in a way that empowers artists and opens creativity to new people, but never seeks to replace human imagination and judgment. And we are working with the creative and technological communities to ensure that Generative AI is developed with transparency.'

With Generative AI, users can add an owl to this image and then select different variations, which you can see as layers to the right

Adobe is leveraging its Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) to help navigate these new, uncharted waters with generative AI technology. CAI ensures that creators get credit for their work and that those who view content can find out how it was created, and by whom.

Adobe is still in the early stages with its generative AI technology, but they've shared some of what they're working on. For example, you'll be able to add new objects to an image and create variations based on your existing image. You'll be able to create brand-new, unique fonts with custom-built embellishments. Adobe Express will incorporate AI to let users generate a template based on a prompt, allowing new users or those pressed for time to create faster than ever.

As for photo editing tools like Lightroom, we've already seen AI technology in many tools. However, Adobe wants to use Generative AI in Lightroom to allow users to change the time of day of a scene or even extend a photo beyond the scene you shot. While some of this is already possible by changing out a sky or using content-aware fill, Generative AI promises to enhance existing photo editing technology greatly.

Adobe aims to create responsible AI and ensure that it's implemented in intelligent ways within its software. Adobe writes, 'Art has always been a mixture of craft and other qualities harder to define — style, judgment, and eye. The history of art is an unbroken series of technical innovations — the development of ceramic kilns, invention of oil paints, debut of digital photography — all of which accelerated these crafts. As craft becomes less of an obstacle, the role of the creator — their vision, story, and imagination — becomes more — not less — important. We believe the same will be true with Generative AI and we’re excited to develop AI tools that will help you express your personal vision.'