Today is Photoshop’s 30th birthday! 

It’s crazy to think that a design tool is 30 years young but for me especially it’s even more surreal because Photoshop had a huge impact in my career and in my life. Abduzeedo was built around Photoshop tutorials pretty much. I had, and still have, a lot of fun creating images and light effects in Photoshop. So it’s a pleasure to share a bit more about the new features coming to Photoshop for desktop as well as the iPad version. You can also read a full blog post about the anniversary at -Abduzeedo was built around Photoshop tutorials.

On this milestone day we celebrate the evolution that brought us here, from the first use of Photoshop (before Photoshop 1.0) to create visual effects for James Cameron’s movie, The Abyss … to the invention of the healing brush in Photoshop CS2 … to the wizardry of Content-Aware Fill … and all the amazing innovation in between. In 2016 we introduced Sensei AI and machine learning magic, resulting in many even more fantastic features including Select Subject, with of course much more to come. In 2019, Photoshop won an Academy Award, and we expanded it to new devices like the iPad.

In celebration of this birthday, today Adobe also released many great new features in both versions of Photoshop – on the desktop and on the iPad. Happy birthday, Photoshop! 

Photoshop on the desktop

Content-Aware Fill Workspace Improvements

Now you can make multiple selections and apply multiple fills without leaving the workspace. Use the new “apply” button to iterate your fills before committing. Click “OK” only when you are finished. In this release Adobe has addressed a big customer request to sample all layers in the CAF workspace. These workflow enhancements are designed to reduce clicks, give you more control, and speed you to great results.

Lens Blur improvements

Adobe has improved the output quality and performance of Lens Blur and put it on the GPU. This significantly improves the overall realism, including the sharpness and edges when using Lens Blur to synthetically blur the foreground, background or even the middle of an image.

The feature also now delivers more colorful bokeh via the specular highlights. This produces more realistic and pleasing results.

It’s a little boggling to me how we can add such realistic blur to a 2D image after capture. So I talked with one of our research scientists to get an idea of how the new and improved, GPU-driven Lens Blur works. The results are created by an algorithm the team built by studying the first principles of physics and how light interacts with objects in the real world. It is carefully tuned to simulate a 3D environment to create the most realistic results possible, while also consuming the least amount of compute power so you don’t burn up your machine. Lots of research and iteration occurred to make the feature. Several PhDs were involved. And now you can synthetically adjust the depth of field by dynamically manipulating the blur of a 2D image after capture in milliseconds.

Mac OS Dark UI support

Dark UI has been one of the more popular features of the Catalina Mac OS. Photoshop now supports the new dark mode. System dialogs like File>Open and File>Save now match the settings of your Mac OS.

Performance improvements

You’ll discover some key performance improvements with a more buttery and seamless mousing experience. Clicking interactions like panning and zooming will feel smoother and more responsive. You’ll notice the biggest boosts on larger documents and when using the hand tool to zip around the canvas.

If you want to geek out, for stylus customers on Windows, you no longer need to use WinTab (you know who you are).

Photoshop on the iPad

This is a major release for Photoshop on the iPad. With the addition of the Object Selection tool, selections on the iPad takes a huge leap forward beyond anything available in any other apps on the device before today. Check out the video above by our own Russell Preston Brown that shows the power of this new feature. And, give it a try!

Object Selection tool

This feature was just released in Photoshop on the desktop at MAX 2019, three months ago. On the iPad we give you the same functions, with the same options and settings.

We’re hearing from customers that Photoshop on the iPad “helps them get closer to the pixels.” This feature is a great example of that, where the experience really shines in a touch environment when using the Apple Pencil. I encourage you to try it out.

Here’s a primer on how the new Object Selection tool relates to the Select Subject tool (which was released on the iPad in December). Both features are now in Photoshop on desktop and iPad. Both use Sensei AI and machine learning to automatically make a great selection. They each radically reduce the steps to results and each is tuned for common, but different use cases.

Select Subject finds and selects the main subject in your image with one click with no input or guidance from you. This is best used when you have one primary object you want to quickly isolate.

The Object Selection tool is designed to give you speed, but also more control over the selection process on more complex images. For example, it is the right tool if you have images with multiple objects, or when selecting a part of an object, or if you want this part but not that part, or need to isolate more than one object in an image. With the Object Selection tool, you draw a rectangular region or even a crude lasso around the area you want to select, and the tool automatically finds and selects the primary objects inside the defined region. This is demonstrated in the video at the top of the iPad section, where we have a selection that requires getting this part but not that part of the oranges.

Here’s another example using a fairly complex scene and background.

I drew a rough lasso around the woman. You can see how the marching ants snapped to her outline.

By pressing “F” on the keyboard, I can scroll through different views of the selection to ensure I have what I want. For this image, the red background works best.

I then circled the man’s glasses to add those to the selection with one quick stroke using the Lasso tool, and then added the guitar … you get the idea. It was super easy and I had what I wanted in just a few seconds.

Type settings

Type settings in this release brings many of the typographic controls you use in Photoshop on the desktop to the iPad. Adobe added type layer, character and options properties. This includes tracking, leading, scaling, and formatting things like all/small caps, super/subscript. Kerning will ship in a future release.

As you can see there’s tons of new features and things to play with. I hope you enjoy it and I will for sure play with it, perhaps a new tutorial soon :)

Share your love using #PsILoveYou30

Written by


I'm a Brazilian product designer based in Oakland, California currently working for Google as a Staff Designer. I am also the founder of Abduzeedo, an award-winning digital publication about design and a personal project that has become the source of inspiration for millions of designers and enthusiasts.

Brought to you by