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Photoshop Elements 13 gets Photomerge and content-aware fill

Lesa Snider | Oct. 23, 2014
Elements 13 is a great way to step up from iPhoto, but it can't do a lot you couldn't do with version 12's Expert Mode and a little skill.

New effects variations and Guided Edits

The popular Effects in Quick mode now include four variations on each of the 10 effects, for a total of 50 single-click treatments. Switch to Expert mode and you'll find the effects applied to a duplicate layer, complete with a layer mask that, with some skill, lets you hide the effect from parts of your image. iPhoto's effects are adolescent in comparison and they can only be applied to the whole photo.

Guided mode also got three new edits involving black and white. B&W Color Pop lets you pick a color to "pop" (remain in color) from four presets--red, yellow, blue or green--while the rest of the photo goes grayscale, something that's impossible in iPhoto. To isolate a different color (say, purple), use the Select Custom Color eyedropper. The Fuzziness slider lets you tell Elements 13 how picky to be regarding what remains in color; drag left for fewer tones or right for more. Handy Add and Subtract buttons in the Refine Effect section let you easily fine-tune the behind-the-scenes masking.

The B&W Selection edit walks you through using the Quick Selection tool to hide the black and white effect from certain spots in your image (also impossible in iPhoto), and a useful Invert checkbox lets you reverse what's in color and what isn't. The Black and White edit converts an image to black and white, and lets you add a diffuse glow for a more ethereal look.

Expert mode improvements

Grab the Crop tool in Expert mode and Elements 13 analyzes your photo for content (faces and horizon lines) and displays four crop suggestion thumbnails in the Options bar, nice starting points for beginners. Any aspect ratio restriction you make is preserved in the crop suggestions (yay!).

The Quick Selection tool inherited a Refine Selection Brush that lets you drag across selection edges to have Elements 13 reanalyze them. As you drag, the brush switches between add or subtract modes based where you drag (inside or outside of the selection); the inner circle of the brush cursor snaps more closely to edges and the outer circle produces softer edge-snapping. The brush also has an edge smoothing mode which keeps selections from being so jagged. (iPhoto can't make selections at all.)

A new Photomerge Compose command nestled in the Enhance menu helps you cut something out of one photo and paste it into another, also impossible task in iPhoto. It uses a combination of the Quick Selection tool, the new Refine Selection Brush, and an Outline tool that detects edges as you drag. Elements copies and pastes the object into another photo, where you can reposition and resize it. You also get masking controls enabling you to hide or reveal extra bits, which is great if you didn't have a good selection to start with. The Auto Match Color Tone button helps you match lighting conditions between the photos, though you can adjust lighting manually via four sliders.


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