As we mentioned last week, Adobe’s CS5 kickoff event was April 12. Photoshop CS5 looks very, very promising, and worth the upgrade. Some of the more amazing new features include the Content-aware Fill, which makes short work of removing people from images, and the Puppet Warp, which will let you reposition arms and legs at will, long after the shutter has clicked. Mind-boggling stuff. Of course, the feature I was most interested in was the rumored improvements to the brush engine in Photoshop, which hasn’t been touched since version 7 (five releases ago). We got just a brief look at how the new brushes work. So this post is a gathering of some further information from various sources, to help us figure out just what has changed. And, to answer the Big Question: does it replace Painter?
This may be a point of little interest to most digital painters. After all, Photoshop is already the most commonly-used software for digital painting, by far. Personally, I use Painter much more for painting. Perhaps that’s because I began my art training years ago using traditional materials. For folks like me, Painter is easier to paint with than Photoshop, since the brushes work like their counterparts in the real world, pretty much. Blending colors on the canvas has always been much better in Painter, though far from perfect. From what I understand, the “brush engine” (picture a tiny motor inside a brush handle pumping out paint) in Painter differs from the one in Photoshop in that the brush interacts with the colors already on the canvas. In Photoshop, the brush simply stamps an image repeatedly to give the illusion of a continuous stroke. You can see the difference here:
With this in mind, I anxiously awaited yesterday’s kickoff, hoping to see that Photoshop had fixed the brush engine, so that it would truly act like paint on canvas. I probably won’t know for sure until I get my hands on the new version and play with it, but for now it’s looking like Adobe has simply enhanced the Smudge tool. The examples (check out the links which follow) that I’ve found show “paintings” that are nothing more than the ol’ smearing-pixels-around school of painting. True, colors do mix on the canvas now. Yellow and blue seem to create green. But Adobe is calling the new brushes “Natural Media Bristle Tip Brushes,” which sounds like throwing down the gauntlet in Corel’s face, to me. Don’t misunderstand me–I think they’ve made some great improvements here. But I don’t think they’ve released the “Painter Killer” yet.
For one thing, there’s no Color Cloning in CS5. As you look at the examples below, keep in mind that all the artist has done is smear pixels around in an existing photograph. Perhaps they’ve added colors, too, but the point is there is no cloning ability. Without that, I can’t see photographers using the new brushes. In Julianne Kost’s presentation (top), she mentions she’s “not an artist” and seems afraid of actual painting. (Too bad they didn’t hire an artist to show off the new product features.) Photographers use Painter’s cloning technology to create painterly images. I can’t see them switching to Photoshop without something similar.
But these are just my opinions. I’d love to hear your reactions to the new release. Please check out the links which follow, if you’d like to see the new brushes in action.
- Resources: CS5 Brushes and Training to Get You Moving
- Resources: Photoshop CS5 and other cool new stuff
- Beginning Digital Painting with Photoshop
- Painter and Photoshop FAQ
- A Collection of Great Photoshop Brushes to Download for Free
- Corel Painter Resources: links to Brushes, Papers, Tutorials
- A Quick and Easy Watercolor with Photoshop’s Art History Brush