Photography / Hands-on Review

Automated & Full-Featured: Adobe Photoshop & Premiere Elements 2018

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Adobe's new Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 2018 are consumer applications offering hundreds of tools and thousands of choices for editing your photos and videos. They are designed easy enough to use that from the moment you open them you'll be able to quickly orient yourself and begin editing, yet they have a sophisticated look and intelligent and stylish workflow. They also each offer an entire section of fully-automated features that guide you through applying complex effects or completing an entire project. A "Next" button leads you through all the steps of the effect or project task; along the way you can make your personal choices of colors, sizes, and many other factors.

Furthermore, there is a thorough amount of one-click "Auto" buttons within all the tools and effects in manual editing mode, but next to these buttons you're also provided with a "Custom" button by which you can make all selections and adjustments yourself. In addition to the "Auto" buttons, there are also other automated features within the tools and effects in manual editing mode. For example, when Motion Tracking is selected in Premiere Elements, buttons, a panel, a graph, and other indicators subtly appear on the screen that allow you to set the parameters of the effect within them. Everything is presented to you at the same time, allowing you to focus on the creative aspect of the effect.

The sections with fully-automated features are extensive. There are about 20 such features in Photoshop Elements and about 50 in Premiere Elements. Some within Photoshop Elements perform multiple tasks such as enhancing multiple aspects of a photo. Most in Premiere Elements are for applying advanced effects. In both applications, they’re broken up into groups, such as “Basic Edits” or “Fun Edits,” and they’re displayed as a picture or other visual, so they’re easy to navigate through and work with. Using these features, you can make corrections and enhancements in your photos and videos, apply exotic effects such as converting a photo into a jigsaw puzzle, or highlight a single color in a video while making the rest of the image black and white. It also allows you to extract a subject from one photo and place it into another one, create a motion title saying something like “Happy Birthday,” add vocal narration, fix action cam footage, and much more.

Manual mode is loaded with a very comprehensive variety of tools and features. Photoshop and Premiere Elements are among the most full-featured consumer editing applications available, perhaps the most. Even if you’re familiar with editing, you may find yourself surprised at what features are available for your photos and videos. There are many lists of tools and effects, and they’re presented in a user-friendly yet refined and intelligent manner.

Photoshop Elements offers adjustment tools for color, lighting, exposure, contrast, and other details. It provides a miracle of tool for enhancing facial features. It allows you to whiten teeth, fix smiles, and open closed eyes in a very polished manner. It lets you change backgrounds, remove objects, add textures, add subtle frames, and much more.

Premiere Elements includes numerous correction tools, effects, transitions, and titles, about two dozen audio adjustments, over 250 sound effects, and over 40 musical scores. Many of the musical scores are genuinely good, and this was a nice surprise because background music can make or break a movie. Included among these features are three-way color correction, color replacement, image stabilization, cinematic pan and zoom motions, big-budget looks, many picture-in-picture options, and a huge collection of graphics to impose over your footage such as speech bubbles, stars, and a heart.

The two applications share a similar interface and workflow. There are three workspaces in each, switchable via three tabs at the top. The switch is instant and your media follows along from one space to another. You can toggle back and forth and work in all three spaces. One of these is the “Guided” space where the fully-automated features are. Another is the “Quick” space which provides the most common tools with quick ways of applying them. The third is the “Expert” space where the entirety of the tools is provided with detailed ways of applying them.

Once you’re done editing your project, you can export it to one of many single-click export options. Press a small button at the top and choose between Print, DVD, Greeting Card, Photo Calendar, Photo Collage, Video Collage, Slideshow, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook Cover, CD/DVD jacket, and other options. And with that you’re finished. And that’s Photoshop and Premiere Elements in a nutshell.

Photoshop and Premiere Elements also include an intuitive browser called Organizer. It opens totally independently and lets you manage all the photos, videos, and audio on your computer with smart tags, such as mapped out locations, places, people, faces, and more. Organizer also allows you to enhance a batch of photos at once with a “Quick Fix” as well as throw an assortment of photos and videos into a slideshow, which gets created automatically (but can be adjusted).

Several new features and new guided edits are added in the new release, with Open Closed Eyes a big one in Photoshop Elements. Open Closed Eyes literally allows you to replace a subject’s eyes with new ones. You select a new set from another photo of the person or of someone else, or from a preset, and the eye area gets cut out from that image and gets blended into your photo in a very polished manner. If the skin tones around the eyes match up, this tool can work wonders. Not only can you replace closed eyes, you can have the person looking in a totally different direction. Open Closed Eyes doesn’t pinpoint where the eyes are on every photo, in which case it can’t be applied, but otherwise it’s very nice to have. It opens up creative possibilities and also might save an important photo someday.

Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 2018 open separately but you can toggle between them and Organizer from within any of the three.

Are you familiar with previous versions of these applications? Are you possibly considering them now? We’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to share any thoughts or ask any questions in the comments section below.

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