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The latest update to Photoshop CC – 14.2, which follows the 14.1 update that added Adobe Generator – brings three key innovations: linked placed objects, direct 3D printing, and the very useful Perspective Warp feature.
Previously, when an object was placed in Photoshop from an external source, such as Illustrator, then Photoshop would store a local copy of the artwork. It could be edited in Illustrator by double-clicking it, but only the internal version would change. Now, when placing artwork using the File > Place command, you have the choice of embedding or linking the object. Choose the latter, and double-clicking will use Illustrator to edit the original artwork on disk. This means the file is permanently tied to the original, so any alterations will be consistent across the applications - and there should be no need to manually replace artwork edited externally.
Photoshop has been making inroads in 3D modelling for several versions, but this is the first to offer 3D printing from within the application. Whether imported into Photoshop, or built inside the program, it's now possible to run an automatic process which makes the object 'watertight' - patching the holes and repairing the mesh to make it printable. It can also make the snap-away 'scaffolding' required to support an object during printing.
If you own one of the four currently supported printers, you can now print your object directly from Photoshop. If you have a different printer you can either edit an XML file to include your printer's parameters, or export an STL file - which you'll then need to take into another application to slice into a printable GCode file.
This is a major move forwards, but it doesn't yet go far enough: a lack of user control means there's currently no way to set the print speed or temperature, the layer height, the fill density or the number of skins, which severely limits the flexibility of the process.
But the feature most Photoshop users will welcome most is Perspective Warp, which allows you to modify the apparent viewing angle from which objects have been photographed. You start by drawing a perspective plane over one side of your chosen object, so that one edge aligns with the corner of the object. After that, it's a matter of adjusting the handles so that the perspective of the plane follows the perspective of that side of the object.
Then draw the second, and even third planes to complete the setup. As you drag the new planes, the edge nearest the first will turn blue when the two are adjacent: release the mouse button and the edges will snap together.
Once the planes are adjusted again so the perspectives match, you can enter Warp mode via a button on the Options bar. In this mode, you can Shift-click an edge to constrain it to vertical, and then drag handles around to change the viewing angle.
The process works best with boxy objects such as buildings, buses and crates which have been shot from a corner angle, allowing major changes to be made easily; but the technique, which is like being able to adjust two Free Transform planes simultaneously, can also be applied (with limited success) to other shapes as well.
While the new features wouldn't form the basis of a major upgrade in themselves, they're all worthwhile enhancements and Perspective Warp, in particular, should quickly prove its worth. The good news is that we no longer have to wait 18 months between releases: new features are published as soon as they're ready, which is a real bonus for CC subscribers. Although few suspected it would be the case, Adobe has already validated its subscription model through the release of two strong, worthwhile updates.