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2015 Release of Photoshop CC 2015 new features tutorial

Hard on the heels of a big Lightroom CC release, today marks the release of the next major update to Adobe Creative Cloud. 15 Adobe apps get major updates and new features. Adobe has been adding updates to most CC apps 3 or 4 times a year. Once a year there is a milestone update that aligns all the apps with a full version behind the scenes and a CC (year) indicator to help people keep track. As is our custom here at PhotoshopCAFE, we have all the new features for you, right at launch. If you want to see previous updates and features, they are all covered in our CC Superguides here. 

See the Camera Raw updates here that include Dehaze, HDR and Panoramic merge in Camera RAW


Photoshop CC 2015

by Colin Smith

I have a video for you to watch here that shows my favorite new features, Watch the video and read this in-depth material (trust me, you will want to look at both!)

Let’s just jump right in and have a look at the new features. There are a few nice additions for photographers and a lot of yummy possibilities for designers. One new feature for everyone, that you don’t see initially, is a vast speed improvement in some tools. The spot healing brush is up to 120x faster! Try it for yourself, you can literally paint away blemishes in near realtime. The patch tool also benefits from the expansion of the Mercury  engine in Photoshop. (Mercury is a combo of software and hardware rendering that used the GPU A.K.A. Video Card on your computer for faster visual processing).

All this is available on theThe Creative Cloud Photography plan. Only $9.99mo for Photoshop, Lightroom and Lightroom Mobile.

Creative Sync

This also brings up another term. Creative Sync. This is a rebranding of all the stuff that syncs through Creative Cloud. That would be Libraries, assets, preferences, files etc. Instead of plain sync, it’s called Creative Sync.

Blur Gallery update

For those of you who love to use the Blur Gallery to simulate depth of field and other effects, here is something you have been waiting for. As you have discovered, the blur Gallery is a fast and flexible way to add Field Blur, Motion Blur, Iris Blur, Spin Blur and Tilt Shift. They can all be applied non-destructively using SmartObjects. The one hang-up has been the lack of grain on the blurred areas. When working on an image that has a little grain or noise, this looks artificial. But no more, you can now add in grain (using the grain engine from ACR) and perfectly match your looks.

In this example, I am adding an iris blur to bring attention to the surfer I captured in this image at the Wedge, Newport Beach (shot from a DJI Phantom 3).


When we look close up, notice that there is some noise in the photograph that is smoothened out in the blur. This makes it look like it was blurred in software and not in capture as it doesn’t match. This still image was pulled from a video frame that was captured on a quadcopter, so noise is expected in this case.


Below is the same image after some noise is added (read on to see the options)


Click on the Noise tab and dial in a bit of grain for a much more realistic result.


Dial in the settings to match the grain in the unblurred portion of the image. A couple of settings to look for.

Roughness: This goes between random and uniform patterns in the noise.
Color: Add color noise (speckles of color usually a lot of red and pink).

You can also choose the type of grain to add.


With the noise settings, you can now have a higher level of realism in your “lens” blurs.



Dehaze made its debut at Adobe MAX conference at the “sneaks” keynote presentation. I remember the crowd going wild and loving it, in similar fashion as they did with the Camera Shake Reduction 2 MAX’s before that. Personally, I like Dehaze better and will get a lot of use out of it.

It’s quite common to get atmospheric haze in photographs (particularly when you live in Southern California). Here is an aerial panorama that I have captured on my DJI Phantom 3 Quadcopter. As you can see, the elevated position provides a long look into the distance, and the particulates in the air combined with time of day and position of the sun causes a bit of haze.

In the past, this was difficult to fix. But the new Dehaze filer added in Camera Raw, makes it easy.Choose Filter>Camera Raw filter to launch your photo in ACR


Navigate to the Effects Panel and you will see a Dehaze slider. Move to the left to add haze, and to the right to reduce it.


Move the Dehaze slider to the right to reduce the haze and bring back details to your photograph. You can see a big difference.


Once the haze is reduced, you may want to go back to the basic panel and tweak some of the adjustments as it tends to darken the image slightly.


Here is a before/after for you to look it



The Dehaze is also added to Lightroom CC in the Effects pane


For the rest of the Camera Raw updates including HDR and Panorama, see this page


CC Library updates – Library 2.0

A very welcome addition to Photoshop CC last year was the inclusion of Libraries (more about them here).  Libraries provide a panel where we can store different things such as images, logos, colors, fonts brushes etc. These are available on different apps such as Illustrator and InDesign. They are stored on your computer in a folder which you can find easily enough by running a search on any of the assets. Adobe suggests you don’t mess with the folder directly because that could cause a breaking of your sync. Accessing these through the Library panel is the preferred way. They are synced between different computers that you login to with your Creative Cloud account though the use of Creative Sync (if you are a creative as you’re called in Behance that’s getting very creative).

3 new things in Library 2.0.

Shared Storage

In the past, each app stored it’s assets in different places on your computer, causing duplication. Now, all the apps share the same library location and the same shared assets, which means that you save space (1 copy) and time (don’t have to download another copy). Who doesn’t like to save space time?

Library Linked Smart Objects

When you drag an item out of the Library it now becomes a Library Linked Smart Object. What this means is that it will behave link a Linked Smart Object but from the Library. In English please? When you change the contents of a linked Smart Object, the Smart Object changes in the Library. Every document which uses that asset is also pinged. Whenever you open a document that contains a Library Linked Smart Object that has been updated, you will see a little yellow triangle. This indicates that the object has changed in the Library.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 2.06.49 PM

Right Click and see some options.

Reveal in Library is a good one to see what the newly updated object looks like and if you want to use it.  When you do want to update the Object in your document, click Updated Modified Content.


When everything is current, you will see a little cloud badge indicating that the Smart Object is current and a Library Linked item.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 2.10.54 PM

To avoid all this, you can hold down the alt/Option key and drag something out of the Library and it will work like it always did without creating the link. There are a lot of benefits of a LLSO (Library Linked Smart Object) so it’s worth considering taking advantage of this new option.

Adobe Stock

The third new addition to Libraries is Adobe Stock. You can add a watermarked image from  Adobe Stock  (Remember the recent acquisition of Fotolia by Adobe?). And use it in your comps, even apply smart filters to it if you like. When you are ready for a final, you can license the photos and the full resolution un-watermarked images will replace the comps. You can access this by clicking the St logo from the bottom of the Library Panel. (I wonder if they are going to rebrand Adobe Story since this is the identical logo used there, but in yellow).

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 2.22.12 PM

Adobe Stock


You didn’t think I was going to mention something as huge as Adobe Stock as a mere passing note did you? Nope, let’s look at it in a bit more detail.

Let’s start with some quick history. Many moons ago, Adobe shoved Stock Photos into Bridge and it eventually failed. One reason for this was because it was just essentially a marketplace without adding any real integration. Last year Adobe made the surprising move by purchasing the micro-stock Photography company, Fotolia. Everyone wondered what they planned on doing with it. Here is what happened, as of today it became what is now Adobe Stock. Not to be confused with the Adobe Stock ADBE trading on the NASDAQ.

Using Creative Cloud Libraries, you can now access the vast collection of photos from within Photoshop and search for your photo.

When you see something you like, save it to your Library (watermarked version). You can drop them right into your document and start playing around with the layout and trying different stock photos. When you like something, Right Click and choose License Image. The watermarked image will be replaced by the High-Res licensed image all ready for your use. All Layer effects, smart Filters and Adjustment layers are automatically applied.

This is the kind of integration that was missing from the old Adobe Stock Photos, it certainly does seem like a good idea and worth the time for designers looking to quickly add royalty free stock photos.

Now, the pricing. As of the time of writing (June 15th Pacific/ June 16th East Coast time 2015)  pricing plans are as follows. ($USD)

Pay-Per-Image: $9.99 ea


10 Images a month: $29.99/mo with any Creative Cloud Plan.
$49.99 otherwise, although Im not sure how anyone can access a CC only feature (Library Panel) without being a CC Subscriber.

750 Images a month: $199.99/mo

Content Aware Move Transform

Content aware move is a great tool. You can make a selection around an object and then drag it to a different point in the photograph. It then places the object seamlessly and fills in the gap where it was. I’m going to use a rough example to show how it works and then we will have some fun.

For example, here is a photo and Im going to move the car forward in it.


Content aware fill does its job, but notice that the car now looks tiny. That’s because the image is in perspective and the car didn’t change its size with the distance.


If we use the new Transform on drop, we can scale and rotate the selection before applying it.


In this result, you van now see that we enlarged the car and it looks more natural.


Ok, now to look more in-depth and have some fun.

Here we are in Newport beach and there are some people in the water. Let’s turn one into a giant, shall we?


Grab the Content Aware move tool (Hidden under the healing brush)


Make a selection around our unsuspecting victim. Be careful to grab the shadow or reflection too, or it will look unnatural.


Drag to a new location with Transform On Drop turned on.


Hold Down the Shift key to constrain the adjustment. Drag a corner to enlarge the subject.


Change the Structure and Color if it doesn’t blend too well, otherwise leave them alone.


Apply the section by pressing the Enter key.

We now have a giant in the water.


You can have a lot of fun with this tool!


Multiple Layer Styles



It’s always exciting when new Layer Styles or filters are added to Photoshop because it opens up a ton of possibilities. In this case, no actual new layer effects are added. But the interface has been updated and you can now create multiple instances of strokes, inner shadows, color overlays, gradient overlays, or drop shadows—in a single layer style. (I’m not entirely sure why multiple Color Overlays through).

When you add a new Layer style, you will immediately notice that the interface feels more modern. The entire left side of the panel looks new, with additional options.


When you see a + to the right of an individual style, this indicates that you can create multiple instances of that effect with different settings on each. The multiple stoke effect immediately comes to mind. Click the + button to create a new copy of the selected style. Clicking the up and down arrow keys on the bottom allows you to change the order of these effects.



I’m sure you will have tons of fun with this one. Under the FX button you will also see some options that enable you to manage the panel and effects.



Image Adjustments as Smart Filters

Something I always found interesting was 2 adjustments never quite made it to adjustment layers. Shadows/Highlights and HDR Toning. The work around was to convert the image to a Smart Object and then apply these 2 adjustments as Smart Filters. This provided a similar functionality to Adjustment Layers.

In this release, Adobe has made most of the Adjustments work as Smart Filters. If you are already adding a Shadow Highlight and want to change the stacking order of your adjustments I could see this being a useful option. However, I would recommend sticking to the Adjustment layers whenever you can because they provide dedicated masks, blending modes and also are much faster. It’s not often that I don’t get excited about a new feature, but to me this one doesn’t offer very much. Sorry 🙁

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 6.44.17 PM

Art Boards

Before we dive into all the in’s and out’s of Artboards, let’s address the elephant in the room. What would you use them for? That was my first thought when I initially saw them.

Let’s imagine this common scenario. You are creating a banner for your website. You know you are also going to repurpose it for a newsletter and social media. Perhaps make a heading for Facebook or youtube. Maybe you are designing for mobile phones and tablets. The point is, you are going to have to make multiple versions of the layout for different sizes. This is what the workflow currently looks like.

Create your banner as layers. Create a new document for each variation and drag the layers into each window (You might have to convert some to a smart object, so that you can drag all the assets over). You might even create a clipping group to keep everything to scale. Export each image separately, changing windows and trying to remember which is which.

Now imagine this, make multiple boxes on one page. Design the banner inside one of them. Copy the assets to different boxes and move things around, all in one document. Export them all as individual images all at once.

I don’t know about you, but scenario #2 sounds best to me. I now introduce you to Artboards in Photoshop. On a slightly more technical note, they are like multiple clipping groups inside a single document.

Here are different layouts of the same assets for web, newsletter and youtube. Notice the named artboards


In this case, one of the Artboards is selected. To select an Artboard, click on its name.


Here is the layer stack so you can see what’s going on. Notice that each Artboard has it’s own section that can contain layers, Smart Objects and layer groups. Whatever is in that Artboard section will be contained within the dimensions of the Artboard box on screen.


There is an Artboard option in the properties Panel. You can change the location or the size of the artboard from this panel for precise sizing and location.


If you turn on Rules, the rulers will adapt to each selected artboard.


Creating Artboards

There are several ways of creating artboards.

a/ The first is to select the Artboard tool from the toolbox (under the move tool) Shift+V will toggle between the Artboard tool and the move tool.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 9.57.25 AM

You can click-drag on your document to define an artboard.


b/ You can also choose Artboard as an option while creating a new Document.

c/ You can convert any layer to an Artboard by right clicking on the Layer panel and selecting (you guessed it) Artboard from Layers


Everything that you now place into the Artboard will have its visibility clipped to the sized rectangle. You can move the layers around etc. just like always, but they will stay within the rectangle. The canvas will automatically scale as you add and move artboards.

Click drag on other areas of your canvas to add more, its that easy. Alt/Option drag to duplicate artboards.


You can copy layers between Artboards by Alt/Option dragging them between artboards within the Layers panel.

PhotoshopCC2015_22 PhotoshopCC2015_23


Sizing and positioning

When you are working with Artboards, you can size and position the Artboard by selecting it in the Layers panel or clicking on its name on canvas. In fact this is the default way it works. What if you want to change the contents of the Artboard instead? Ctrl/Cmd+Click with the move tool selected. Now you will be changing the contents not the box.  You could also select the layers from the layers panel.

Artboards can be resized by selecting them in the Layers panel, clicking their name on Canvas or by using the Artboard tool. Change the size by dragging on their bounding box, enter a new value in the Properties panel, or even choose a preset (or make your own)  from the Artboard presets.

PhotoshopCC2015_05 PhotoshopCC2015_06

Additional features

You can right click on the canvas to change the color to make it easier to see your artboards.



Artboard Tip

Whenever you add an image or place one it will go to the top of the layer stack.  Here is way to make it go directly to the artboard.

Right click on the Artboard and choose: Isolate Layers


This will hide all the other layers except for the selected artboard content.


When you place an image, it will initially look like it’s going to the top of the layer stack. But once you press the enter key, it will go directly to the Artboard. To turn off “Isolate Layers” click the red switch in the Layers panel.


Exporting Artboards, Images and Layers

Exporting the artboards also introduces us to other new features in Photoshop CC 2015.

You can right click on the artboard, or layer and choose Quick Export as (jpg). You can choose the format and options for quick export from Preferences>Export

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 11.37.23 AM


Another Option is “Export as”. This is available as a contest sensitive option in the Layers panel or from the File>Export menu (as is Quick export).


The difference is that the File Menu will export the entire document or all Artboards. The Right click (context) option in the :Layers panel will export only the selected layer or group. These option will take a little getting used to, but they will become your new best friends once you become accustomed to them.

Export as

The export as tool will show the selected layer, or the document in the main window. If you are exporting artboards, each once will be shown in the sidebar. Click each sidebar option to preview in the main window.


There are some interesting features without all the clutter found in Save For Web (Still available as Save for Web (legacy).

Choose the format and quality: Jpg, PNG Gif or SVG

Image size is pretty much what you got in Save For Web where you choose the output size. You’ll get a actual size preview of what the image will look like in size, although not image compression. You can however get a preview of scaling interpolation (Resample).

The final option is almost what I have been wanting for years. I have always wanted the ability to crop in the output window. You can do it by entering numbers into the Canvas Size window. What’s missing is a crop tool, or at least scrubby sliders where you can experiment with the crop, since no one who is visually cropping would actually know the numbers to enter. Because of the HTML panel, you can’t even force scrubby slider by holding down Cmd/Ctrl like you can in a native photoshop dialog box. So I will be happy with the appetizer and hope these additional features will come in time as a JDI.

Quick Export

I zoomed past this option really quickly, but need to circle back because its quite a significantly useful feature. You choose the format and quality from Preferences>Export or File>Export>Export Preferences

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 11.37.23 AM

Now, whenever you want to output something quickly, choose File>Export>Quick Export as.. or right click on the artboard, or layer and choose Quick Export.


If you have artboards, all the artboards will be exported as separate images.

Device Preview

Device preview is something completely new in Photoshop. This enables you to preview your designs on an actual mobile device while you are designing. You will need to download the app Adobe Preview from the app store and install it on your mobile device.

Either connect by USB or make sure that the device and your computer are on the same wifi. Log into Creative Cloud. Launch the mobile app  and then open the Device Preview panel.


You should now see a preview on your mobile device. As you change the tab or active image, it will show on your device.


If you are using Artboards, tap on the screen and then choose an artboard from the top menu that appears.

More features for Photographers in Camera RAW



That’s not all the features!  See the Camera Raw updates here that include Dehaze, HDR and Panoramic merge in Camera RAW


Alright, there you have it, my summary of all the new features in Photoshop CC 2015 release. Check out all our new feature guides on the Photoshop CC Superguide.

Also have a look at our Lightroom CC/ 6 new feature review to see all that’s new in Adobe Lightroom CC.

Training on Photoshop CC 2015



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15 responses to “2015 Release of Photoshop CC 2015 new features tutorial”

  1. Hey, thanks for giving us a nice rundown of some of the new features in PS! I love the ‘fine-tuning’ in Content Aware, where you can transform the size and color. I have needed that function before. I like the ‘Artboards’, too. I don’t know how I would use them, but, hey! they’re too cool NOT to use. LOL Thank you once again!

  2. Colin
    The content aware move seems to do a great job of moving the object ‘to’ somewhere but always seems to leave a cloudy mess where the object was removed ‘from’. Very obvious in both of your examples.
    Whats that all about? I always end up using the clone stamp afterwards to fix it….

      • Ummm..That’s what I said…..No explanation for the jumbled mess Content aware Move (or fill) creates?
        So, OK- you are the expert.
        I think I will ask someone from Adobe….

  3. Just an FYI: if you decide to try the trial versions of PS and AI CC 2015 just be aware that it will screw up your file associations. Don’t save any work in the CC programs either, because then it will save it as CC and if you get rid of the CC trials you’ll have to re-associate (or downsave) those files to work with your older programs.

    • This isn’t the case with photoshop. As long as you have “preserve backwards compatibility” turned on, you can open it in any version. Its just saving a PSD or TIff which can be opened in any PS version. As far as associations, that’s just a couple of clicks to change that. Also, if you uninstall, your associations will revert to how they were. I can’t speak for Illustrator

  4. Suggestion: Replace the word “smoothened” with the word “smoothed” as the word smoothened does not exist… well, except in your vocabulary… lol : ) . (first paragraph under first surfing/blur filter photo.

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