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Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 Review

Photoshop has had an update to version 19.0 (2018) and we've put it's latest tools to the test.

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Photoshop CC

Over 11 years ago, a company called Adobe introduced Photoshop to the world and even though it wasn't the greatest piece of kit back then, little did they know it would grow into the photo editing giant that it is today. 

Fast-forward to October 2017 and a new version of this popular software has landed with new tools, upgraded features and even a new section to get beginners editing their photos in Adobe Photoshop CC. 


Adobe Photoshop CC Features 

For those who may not have used Photoshop for a while, it's now available as part of Adobe's Creative Cloud packages (we'll cover these in more detail in the value for money section) which means, instead of a one-off payment, you pay monthly to use it along with a range of other Adobe apps. This change also means that you can edit your photos from any location as your work is saved to the cloud rather than your computers hard drive. 

Adobe Photoshop CC is packed with tools you can use to edit your images or produce digital art in a none-destructive way and Adobe had added quite a few new tools to its latest edition. Let's take a look. 


So What's New?

Photoshop is a great tool if you know how to use it but for a beginner, it can be a complicated piece of kit so Adobe has introduced a new 'Learn Photoshop' panel to, hopefully, make it easier to get to grips with. 

For those who are avid Adobe users, you may be happy to hear that you can now access LIghtroom photos from the start screen in Photoshop CC and continuing with the 'connected' theme, there's a quick share option so you can pop your images on social media quicker. Plus, it's now easier to use Adobe Stock images and the HEIF image file format can now be opened. 

As for the tools, the brushes have had a lot of work done to them, as too have masks, the Pen Tool and Fonts. The software is now better at detecting skin tone and faces and Adobe have made performance improvements to several areas of the software, including filters, layers and file launch time. 

With the popularity of 360-degree photography and video ever growing, Adobe has also introduced a new mode for opening and editing 360-degree spherical panoramic images. 

We'll be taking a closer look at the new features in the performance section of the review. 


Adobe Photoshop CC Performance 

For those who haven't really used Photoshop before, the introduction of a new tutorial section is, actually, really useful. There are several tutorials that walk you through step-by-step instructions on tools used most often in the software. The tutorials aren't going to make you a Photoshop master but they will help give you the basic introduction skills needed to understand and use the software. In total, there are 16 tutorials built into four categories and as well as written instructions, the walkthroughs visually show you where to click (on sample images that automatically open). They're a useful addition that are easy to follow and they will help those who have zero or just a basic level of photo editing knowledge. 

There are also useful 'rich tooltips' now built in which pop up when you hover your cursor over a tool and they display a description as well as a short animation on how the tool works. 




The addition of new brushes may not be something all photographers will be interested in but if you're a digital artist, they're probably welcomed and the brushes also have a new folder system which makes them easier to navigate. Brush presets also retain their properties from tool presets and there's a symmetry tool that allows you to draw mirrored. 



As well as adding new brushes and making them easier to access/arrange, Adobe has worked hard to smooth brush strokes when working with trackpads and fingers on touch devices. In fact, even if you're using a mouse or pen to make edits, the software now produces much smoother lines when the brush stroke smoothing option is selected. The top row on the below image was drawn with a mouse and without the brush stroke smoothing feature while the line below did have the brush stroke smoothing option applied and you can see lines are much smoother.


Making selections on awkward shapes has always been a bit of a pain but with the introduction of the Curvature Pen tool, the process has got a little easier. The Curvature Pen tool is located under the Pen tool in the Tools panel and you can use it to select specific areas of an image. We know you could do this before but as well as creating straight lines, the new tool allows you to trace around curved shapes much easier. You still have to patiently add single click points to accurately get around a shape but it is easier to make accurate selections. Another nice change to the pen tool is the ability to adjust the path outline (colour and thickness) so it's easier to see. 


The select and mask tools now respond better with selections around difficult things such as hair or fur being more accurate and the addition of the 'range mask' we talked about in our Lightroom CC & Classic review is also available in Camera RAW which will be a welcomed addition for many. 

Layers are an important part of the Photoshop interface and now, multiple layers can be copied and pasted using the Copy, Paste, and Paste Into Place commands. This includes any layer type and it just speeds up workflow that little bit more.

Preserve Details 2.0 Upscale is worth a mention as it preserves detail much better than the previous option did when resizing photographs and the Face-Aware Liquify tool, along with the Content-Aware Crop and Content-Aware Fill tools, now, also, produce better results. 

Fonts aren't something photographers will use regularly but if you produce your own calendars or greeting cards in Photoshop, they might be something you use from time-to-time and Adobe has done quite a bit of work on them in the latest release. Fonts are now variable so the weight, slant, height, width etc. can be adjusted so you don't have to work with multiple font files. Instead, you just adjust the one font type as you need to. 



One feature photographers will be happy to hear about is that you can now use the Photoshop Start Screen to access photographs that are synced in the cloud via Lightroom. You simply have to sign on to any computer using your Adobe ID, launch Photoshop and choose LR Photos to see your synced photographs. However, if you have synced files using Collections in Lightroom Classic, images under the 'LR Photos' tab can only be viewed at 2560px on the longest side but if you have imported photos using the all-new Lightroom CC, Lightroom on mobile, and /or Lightroom on the web, images under the 'LR Photos' tab can be accessed at the full-resolution stored in the cloud.

As 360-video is something that's growing in popularity, Adobe has also introduced a new mode for opening and editing 360-degree spherical panoramic images. The 3D workspace is actually pretty cool as you can rotate and move around the file you have opened and make edits to specific areas, as you can with 'normal' image files. All of the tools you'd use on a 2D shot can be applied to a 3D image so you can correct it before sharing it on social media and as with everything you do in Photoshop, your workflow is none-destructive and uses layers. If you have a good understanding of how Photoshop works, you'll have no problems editing and creating 360-degree panoramas. 

Other general improvements come in the shape of filter adjustments, expanded sharing options, better integration with Adobe stock and speed improvements when launching files. Apple users will be happy to hear that Apple’s High-Efficiency Image Format (HEIF) is now supported and when saving PNG files, Photoshop will now apply much better compression in far less time.


Value for Money

For some time now, Adobe Photoshop hasn't been available with a perpetual licence. Instead, you now have to pay a monthly subscription to access its editing tools. There are different levels of subscription plans Adobe Photoshop CC is part of which includes the 'Photography Plan'. This option is available for £9.98 a month and includes Lightroom CC, Photoshop CC, and 20GB of cloud storage or if you need 1TB of storage, it'll cost you £19.97 a month. If you want access to more apps, there's a £49.94 monthly subscription available or you can pay £78.52 a month to get access to all of Adobe's apps and Adobe Stock. If you just need Photoshop you can purchase just the single app for £19.97 a month and you get 100GB of cloud storage with it but as the 'Photography' plan is the same price with 1TB of storage, you'd be a bit daft just paying for the one app. 

For the photography plans, you'll be paying around £119 a year for the 20GB storage option and £238 a year if you need 1TB of storage. The prepaid annual plan for just the Photoshop app is priced at £238.42.

Alternatives include Corel PaintShop Pro which is around £90 to purchase and we actually think it's a rather good Adobe alternative, plus it's subscription free. There's also GIMP which is free to use and both Xara Photo & Graphic Designer and OnOne Perfect Photo Suite scored well in our reviews. There's also Adobe Photoshop Elements which can still be accessed without a Creative Cloud membership for around £70 however, it doesn't offer the advanced options Photoshop CC does. 

(All of the Adobe prices quoted are without VAT.)



Adobe Photoshop CC Verdict

Adobe Photoshop is an incredibly popular piece of software and there's no doubting that it's an excellent tool for photographers. However, does the latest update bring lots of awesome updates photographers can't live without? Not really, but digital artists will probably be pleased with the improvements and additions Adobe has made to Photoshop. Plus, the tutorials are a nice touch, too. 

As we said in our Lightroom review, it doesn't matter how great the software is, some will always find the fact that Adobe has gone subscription based really annoying. Yes, the monthly price is reasonable and actually, when you add it up, it's much cheaper than the perpetual licence for Photoshop was but there's something about the monthly subscription route that just doesn't sit right with some. But, as in this instance, it can save you money, so perhaps it's something you can get used to. Plus, you do get a variety of useful editing apps alongside Photoshop CC. 

Subscriptions aside, Adobe Photoshop CC is a useful tool for those who regularly edit photographs. Will the latest updates make a huge difference to your workflow as a photographer? Maybe not, but this doesn't mean it's not a tool you should have on your device. 


Adobe Photoshop CC Pros

  • Excellent at what it does
  • Cloud connectivity
  • New tutorials are a nice touch
  • Tweaks made to the tools photographers will use are good

Adobe Photoshop CC Cons

  • Subscription format is still annoying for some
  • Photographers may not find all of the update that useful 


Features & Performance4.5/5
Ease of use4/5
Overall Verdict

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Fma7 7 1.1k United Kingdom
31 Oct 2017 7:56PM

Quote:Over 11 years ago, a company called Adobe introduced Photoshop to the world

While strictly true, it was over 11 years ago, but it was over 25 years ago that V1 came out.
1 Nov 2017 5:13PM
A pity you didn't mention Affinity Photo as one of the alternatives. No subscription, British company, bought outright for about 6 months hire of Adobe CC. Still a work in progress but many aspects are very good.

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