As for the new features
, I'm going to view that purely from an artist's perspective
, and it's mostly my point of view and opinion on Adobe's progress with Ps in general
Photoshop has been first introduced mainly as a photo manipulation program (hence the name), but since then a lot of extra features have been added, even 3D capabilities. Today it is considered the default choice not only in the photography industry, but also in graphic design, concept art, matte painting and illustration in general.
All the new Ps features are welcome and useful. The liquify bug from CS6 has been fixed FINALLY, and you can apply layer effects and masks in layer groups (wow, that took them only 6 versions since groups were introduced <scratches from wishlist>)! The new conditional actions look promising and the improved path system, layer isolation (Illustrator-style) and 3D painting optimizations are nice additions too. The cloud connection seemed like a natural evolution, although I won't be using that much, personally. That said, there's still a ton of things left to be desired, so it isn't all sunshine and roses.
There's a constant feeling that in Adobe have been dragging their feet for the last several years, which I believe is a result of the monopoly; their update cycle was 1.5 years (and recently switched to 1 year), but the progress is really slow and the new features weren't drastic enough. And judging by the few drastic ones (3D implementation, natural paintbrushes, charcoal, etc), Adobe seems to be missing the point here...
For comparison, Pixologic, which has a fraction of Adobe's workforce, updates Zbrush twice a year and the new features are insane for the time the developers had, and really change the workflow and extend the program's capabilities by a lot. That's an incredible pace and momentum. And most of these updates are free.
In every new Ps version the majority of new features are addressed to photographers, naturally (hey, that's why it's called PHOTOshop!). But, like I mentioned above, Adobe seems to ignore the artists' needs, although they're aware that the vast majority of the pro CG artists in the games, film and book publishing industry are Ps users. The current brush system is aged and outdated (it hasn't changed much for at least 10 years - since Ps v.7), and even simple iPad painting apps feature a more sophisticated brush system. Of course there is Corel Painter and other programs that feature a much more robust brush system, but those have their own issues in other areas.
You might say "Photoshop is meant to be used by photographers, the painting features is just a spin-off."
So why the hell did they add the 3D features (which, by the way, requires a huge amount of work)? Did the world really need to render anything inside Ps (especially the professionals)? Ps 3D implementation is half-baked, slow, and rendering looks like crap. The only useful feature for me is fixing the texture seams on 3D models, which is slow and laggy. In other words, 3D totally is NOT for professional use.
And then there are the those "cool" new natural brushes, the pencils and the charcoals. Which are a gimmick. Really, Adobe? Is that what you thought was missing the most from the brushes? BTW, the Mix Brush Tool is very useful and handy, but the rest "natural media" stuff is just for show-off. I'd better use an actual pencil, charcoal (or even a freakin' iPad). There's no need to emulate what can be done traditionally, I think. Not that these features are "bad", but they should be way down the line in terms of importance.
Here's a WISHLIST of what I'd like to see implemented in the future versions of Photoshop as a designer/digital artist:
- Change of brush properties (size, opacity, hardness, direction, rotation, color, etc) based on brush stroke speed.
- Full-color brush support.
- Sprite brush support for texturing - i.e. I'd like to use a transparent image that contains 4x4 tiles with 16 different kinds of leaves, dirt, flames, particles, etc. and as I make a stroke, any of those tiles would be used in random (or not) order, just like in games.
- Roll brush mode - a brush that works by tiling an image seamlessly along the path of the stroke. Creating decorative borders and accents, ropes and chains would be much more easier.
- Mirror mode and radial symmetry for the canvas.
- Advanced instancing - a new type of smart object which, when edited, all its instances are updated in real-time and in the same window.
- Normal/height/bump map as a layer effect (for use in 3D).
- "Stabilizer" or "Lazy Mouse" function - a function that creates smooth brush strokes with no "wiggles".
- Ability to edit (erase, paint, etc) multiple layers.
- [YOUR SUGGESTIONS HERE]
Most of the items above are already present in other applications, so I don't go overboard.
I'm sure I missed a lot of cool features, so leave your comment and I will add that in
I think that the subscription model for the entire suite is better in general, for a number of reasons:
- Users can install and run the Adobe CC software on any machine, as long as they don't run simultaneously (much like Steam or Battle.net). That's a huge plus, as users won't need a separate license for each machine. That means I can use them in my laptop or any other PC with no extra cost (one at a time, of course).
- The annual cost for the use of all the suite is $600, which means it would take more than 3 years to match the price of the CS6 package.
- It's more affordable for many small businesses and young people to pay $50 per month instead of cashing out $1800 all at once.
- It also includes Adobe's cloud service, which can come in handy in many cases (plus it syncs all your preferences and presets across all machines which are bound to the same account).
Still, $20/month for just one program is simply ridiculous, and really discourages people who are interested only in Photoshop to jump in; although I've heard that Adobe will lower the price on that.