Tried and Tested: Top 5 Features in Photoshop CS5

photoshop-cs5Adobe Photoshop CS5 was launched on April 12th 2010 and has continued to prove why it’s the market leading digital image editing suite.

‘New features’ guides are often published as soon as packages are released – but you only really get to know Photoshop well by using it in depth. So, to complement by ‘Best Bits‘ post from last year, here are my favourite Photoshop CS5 features from a year of use.

Below is a look at our Top 5 Photoshop CS5 features that have really made a difference to day to day editing – both in terms of saving time and helping to achieve more professional output.

We’ve provided an overview, and details of where to find these powerful features in Photoshop’s menus, so you can have a go at them yourself!

For a bit more Photoshop fun – check out our recent tutorial on how to make a lightsaber in Photoshop CS5 – or for really in-depth coverage attend a Photoshop Course with us.

Refine Edges


The Refine Edge tool was a new feature to CS5 and one of the most useful you could wish for in our view.

Previous versions of Photoshop have allowed users to draw around an image for further editing or deletion and this has been fine on hard, flat surfaces.

The problem came with softer, less solid parts of an image such as hair. I have a friend who works in fashion photo editing and trying to cut around hairstyles always takes him the most time.

With the Refine Edges feature, after you have manually drawn around an item, it will automatically predict and improve the selection to a very fine point. Refine Edges successfully picks up stray locks of hair, the fur coat of an animal or any other softer, less flat surface to great effect. It is an amazing new feature that will be of great use to many.

Give it a try…

Make a rough selection in the normal way – now go to Select > Refine Edge and have a play – you won’t look back!

Content Aware Fill


Content Aware Fill was also new in CS5. Often users have to remove an item within an image, such as litter in an otherwise scenic picture. Removing these items is not a new feature but even the most knowledgeable Photoshop user would find it very difficult to leave no trace of the removed item.

Content Aware Fill allows Photoshop to analyse the content of your picture and predicts what it would look like if the unwanted feature was not there. This will then fill the now white space with the continuation of whatever the image has to be.

The results of this are truly astounding; I tried this feature out several times on different backgrounds and not once did the Content Aware Fill look out of place. It is one of the most useful and most impressive features in any photo editing suite.

Give it a try…

Make a selection of the item you want to delete. Now use Edit > Fill and select “Content Aware” from the drop down list of options that appears.


Puppet Warp

Puppet Warp is another useful feature that allows you to manipulate areas of an image to change the direction and place of certain features.

By using Puppet Warp a user can manipulate elements of the flower, rotating them at desired points to create the image that they want. This allows much more creative freedom in building an image.

Give it a try…

Select the layer you want to apply the transformation to and select Edit > Puppet Warp. This will apply a 3D mesh to the layer and allow you to add pins which will “anchor” some parts of the image, and then to drag other parts of the image around.


Colour Noise Reduction

Colour Noise Reduction is an enhancement of the feature from previous versions of Photoshop.

Colour Noise refers to random extraneous pixels that are not part of the image detail caused by things like underexposure, shooting in the dark with long shutter speed and many others. By using this Filter element Photoshop reduces this to give the picture a higher quality.

Although not a new feature this is a huge improvement from previous versions and really helps to enhance the quality of a photo for a more professional finish.

Give it a try…

Go to Filter > Noise > Reduce Noise



High Dynamic Ratio imaging is a new area of digital photography and one that CS5 really proves to be an expert in, making vast improvements since CS4. If multiple shots of an object or setting have been taken HDR Pro scans the series and merges tonal values to give a composite image. This composite image is much sharper in quality and the colours that are much more vibrant.

This creates a much more interesting and eye catching photo than can be taken with just one photograph.

So that’s a quick look at some of the new and improved features of Photoshop CS5 which will really help both amateur and professional digital photographers get the most out of their images.

Give it a try…

Go to File > Automate > Merge to HDR Pro - you can then select the images you want to merge together, and even get Photoshop to align them together (especially useful if you didn’t use a tripod).

Similar posts you may like:

  1. The Best Bits of Photoshop CS5
  2. Photoshop Tutorial – Save for the Web
  3. Using the Quick Selection Tool
  4. Five Best Free Photo Sharing Websites
  5. What is a Raw File?


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Aaron Charlie

Aaron Charlie is a Creative Design & IT expert at Silicon Beach Training. Connect with Aaron on Google+

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