How to make the most of new features in Adobe Photoshop CS6

From Erodible brushes to new type styles and new performance enhancements to auto-saves, here's what makes Photoshop CS6 even better than all previous versions

Published Date
03 - Jan - 2014
| Last Updated
28 - May - 2014
 
How to make the most of new features in Adobe Photoshop CS6

We had last covered Photoshop in this space when it’s beta came out. Now that the Creative Suite 6 has been officially released, and the dust has settled, we’re bringing together some of the best tips and tricks that we came across in some of the more important software in the latest series of creative tools from Adobe.

Photoshop was designed well as a photo editor, but it now performs task above and beyond it’s call of duty. Photoshop CS6 now provides improved 3D support, better handling of vector paths and even video. Here are a few of the more interesting tricks that you’ll find useful if you use it day in day out.
 
Erodible Brushes
A new addition to Photoshop CS6, an erodible brush lets you draw a line as if you would have done with a pencil or a crayon, i.e., it erodes away as you use it. Photoshop also offers airbrush tip shape which is designed to used with a tablet to create thinner or thicker lines, depending on the pressure you apply when operating the tablet.  
 
 
Erodible Brushes in Photoshop CS6 
 
You can select an erodible brush from the brushes pull down menu. An erodible brush looks like a pencil. Once you select that brush a new window is seen which shows how worn-out or sharp the brush is. You can fine-tune the eroding properties in the brush panel which lets you select the brush type from the following: Erodible Point, Erodible Flat, Erodible Round, Erodible Square, Erodible Rectangle, Erodible Triangle and Custom. The softness of the brush determines how easily it will wear out, the higher the softness the faster will it wear out.
 
Type Styles
InDesign guys have been enjoying for quite some time now. Essentially, you can save the text formatting styles as style presets and then apply them to selected text and/or paragraphs in your file. This especially beneficial for the designers who use Photoshop to create website mockups, this will help them by saving time and smoothing the production workflow.
You can bring up the Character Styles and Paragraph Styles Panel from the Type menu in the main menu bar. You can define the new style by selecting some text and making changes in either the Character Panel or the Paragraph Panel. Once you’re done just hit the “New Style” button in either of the style panels and you’re done. 
 
Preset Migration and Sharing
If you have been working on Photoshop for some time you’ll have collected and organised your own collection of presets and it can be one hell of a task shifting all of them to the new version. You can migrate your presets from the older version you have on your system by going to 
Edit > Presets > Migrate Presets. The Presets menu also provides an option to Import or Export your presets so that they can be saved or shared with your friends and co-workers.
  
 
Import presets from older versions
 
Auto Recovery and Background Saving
How many times have you lost hours of work because you forgot to save the file? This will not longer be the problem with Photoshop CS6. It introduces two new features Background Saving and Auto Recovery. Background Save feature allows you to continue working while the save is in progress which was not possible in the earlier versions of Photoshop. This bumps up your productivity. You can also get Photoshop to keep saving your work incrementally by going to Edit > Preferences > File Handling and selecting the time interval after which to save. 
 
Performance Enhancements
There is no denying that Photoshop is a resource hog, but you can tweak its innards to extract the maximum performance out of it on an old system or boost your productivity on a fast system. Here are a few performance enhancements which will help speed things up:
•  Watch the Efficiency Indicator – You’ll find the “Efficiency” indicator at the bottom of your Photoshop window, if it falls under 100% it means that you are using the hard drive for memory and Photoshop becomes slower
•  Close Unused Document Windows – Like Windows having many unused documents takes up memory. Close any unused document that you may have opened
•  Purge History & Clipboard – Photoshop’s History feature is quite useful but it hogs a lot of memory. If you’re not using it, purge the history by going to Edit > Purge > All
•  Set drawing mode to Basic – Preferences > Performance > Graphics Processor Settings > Advanced Settings > Drawing Mode > Basic
•  Turn off Animated Zoom – Preferences > General > Animated Zoom > Uncheck
•  Turn off Flick Panning – Preferences > General > Enabled Flick Panning > Uncheck
•  Adjust Photoshops Memory Use – This has to handled tactfully, you can get away with something as low as 40% but this entirely subjective and instead of plugging in arbitrary values it’s best to adjust this based on your physical memory capacity and individual need. You can do this by going to Preferences > Performance > Memory Usage
•  Disable anti-aliasing on guides and paths – Preferences > Performance > Graphics Processor Settings > Advanced Settings > Anti-alias Guides and Paths > Uncheck
•  Use less Video RAM – Preferences > 3D > Available VRAM for 3D > 30%, this is particularly useful for anyone using a computer with a video card that shares VRAM with primary RAM
•  Turn off Image Previews – This may seem a bit harsh but if you’re really hardpressed for memory than you should do this. Change Preferences > File Handling > File Saving Options > Image Previews > Never Save
•  Set Cache Levels to 1 – Note: This change impacts effect plugins and effect quality so use it with caution. The default value is 4 for a reason. Change the cache level by going to Preferences > Performance > History & Cache > Cache Levels > 1