Photoshop CC 2015 improvements

The latest Photoshop update brings a lot of love for user interface and icon designers. These are a few of my favourite things.

Multiple layer style instances #

Stroke, inner shadow, color overlay, gradient overlay and drop shadow layer styles can now have up to 10 instances per layer. Yes, 10 entirely separate instances, per layer. I’ll be honest, I’m pretty excited about this. It may be my favourite Photoshop CC 2015 feature.

The rushed, slightly hideous example below is just a single shape layer (gradient overlays provide most of the magic).

Photoshop ugly monster

I don’t recommend creating artwork like that, but there’s many situations where a couple of extra layer styles would be a big help.

Stroke overprint #

Up until now, inner strokes would knock out the fill behind them. In other words, a stroke of 50% opacity shows what is behind the layer, not a mix of the layer’s stroke and fill.

Photoshop CC 2015 now includes a stroke overprint option, allowing a layer’s stroke to blend with the layer’s fill. That’s great, because that’s usually what I want, and I’ve had to do some pretty gnarly things to get around it in the past. Another win.

Photoshop stroke overprint

Design Space #

Design Space is a new face for an old friend — it’s a replacement user interface for Photoshop, specifically targeting screen designers.

You’ll need to go into Photoshop’s preferences to turn Design Space on, because it’s still considered a technology preview. Then, choose Design Space from the Window menu to jump into the new mode.

Photoshop Design Space

While I don’t think I’ll be using Design Space just yet, it is interesting, and I look forward to seeing where it goes.

Returning to standard Photoshop turns Application Frame on. Disabling Application Frame under the Window menu will lock tool panels to the side of your screen again, if that’s how you like them.

Export As #

Save For Web is being phased out, replaced by Export As, a streamlined and simplified way to export PNG, JPEG and GIF images.

Export As doesn’t include the ability to export slices, but it can export SVGs. It can also export many items at once — right click a layer or group in the layers panel and choose Export As to export the current selection. A quick way to save many files at once.

Save For Web is still available, for now. But, it is labeled legacy for a reason. Plan accordingly.

Artboards #

Although we chose not to include artboards in Skala, I still think they have their uses. Feel free to ask me all about it once Skala has been released. Don’t expect a short reply though.

Artboards are a big addition to Photoshop, and a feature many will like. If nothing else, it makes up for Save for Web and slices being considered legacy as of today — artboards should make a nice replacement for slices, allowing control over automated exporting.

Small tweaks #

Photoshop CC 2015 also includes some small, but welcome improvements. Dropping a layer into a group now places the layer at the top, inside the group (instead of at the bottom). And, stepping forward and backwards no longer changes the layer selection.

Overall, a very nice update.

Published 16 June 2015.