Adobe MAX 2021: Photoshop comes to the web, After Effects gets more performance, and more

Adobe MAX 2021: Photoshop comes to the web, After Effects gets more performance, and more

Every year, Adobe’s MAX event brings along a ton of news for the Adobe Creative Cloud and the company’s products, including Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and more. This year is no different, and today, there are lots of good news for content creators. At Adobe MAX 2021, the company announced that Photoshop and Illustrator are getting lightweight web versions, faster video editing, and new content attribution capabilities.

There’s quite a lot to go over, so we’re breaking up the news into segments. You can more easily find the news you’re looking for this way.

Photoshop

One of the biggest pieces of news from Adobe MAX 2021 has to do with Photoshop – the photo editor is coming to the web. You read that right, Adobe is bringing a version of Photoshop to web browsers, allowing creators to invite anyone to easily take a look at their work. Anyone can view photos on Photoshop for the web and leave comments or annotations, but users with an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription can also make light edits on the web, so you don’t need to install Photoshop if you need to make a quick edit while you’re away from your main laptop.

Adobe Photoshop on the web

Outside of coming to the web, there are tons of new features coming to Photoshop on the desktop and iPad. For desktop users, one of the big new features is auto-masking object selection, which means you can simply mouse over an object to automatically select it for masking. You can also right-click to automatically mask all objects in the picture, thanks to object recognition powered by Adobe Sensei. Another Sensei-powered feature is Neural Filters, of which there are three new ones: Landscape Mixer, Color Transfer, and Harmonization. There are also improvements to existing Neural Filters like depth blur, style transfer, and more.

Another new feature is interoperability with Adobe Illustrator, meaning you can copy vector shapes from Illustrator and have them support Photoshop features like fill, stroke, compound paths, and more. Photoshop will try to keep all the editability and attributes of the Illustrator objects, but when that’s not possible, it’ll at least try to maintain visual fidelity to the original. Other new features include improved color management and HDR support, the ability to quickly share projects with others for commenting (which is also on iPad), improved exporting, better document rendering and improved support for different languages in text layers, and a faster oil paint filter.

Over on the iPad, Photoshop adds support for RAW files, including Apple’s ProRAW format from the iPhone 12 and 13 Pro, the ability to convert layers and groups of layers to smart objects for non-destructive edits, and the ability to easily brighten or darken specific areas of a picture.

Lightroom

For professional photographers, Adobe Lightroom is also getting a few new features at Adobe MAX 2021. First off, a new AI-powered subject selection makes it easier to select objects and backgrounds separately from each other for masking. This makes it so that you can then apply filters and edits to different parts of the photo more easily. Lightroom is also adding a Recommended tab for presets, which apply specific color curve levels and other image settings to a given photo. There are also new premium preset packs available if you’re looking for new styles for your pictures.

Lightroom object and sky selection and masking

Crop overlays are also new, and they help users create the right composition for their photo. Crop overlays like the golden ratio, golden spiral, or the rule of thirds, can help editors easily align content to highlight the parts of the image they want to take center stage.

A new feature called Community Remix is also now available, and it makes it easy for users to share their photo edits with others, but also gives other creators the opportunity to try their own edits, which are then shared back with other users. You can find multiple edits for the same image easily, so you can get inspiration from different types of users.

Lightroom Community Remix

Over on the web, Adobe is launching Lightroom Academy, which is meant to teach users about various topics in the world of photography. Lightroom Academy is free to use, and it’ll continue getting updates thourhgout 2022.

Video editing – Premiere Pro and After Effects

Moving on to video, there are also new features for After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Character Animator. For After Effects, there’s a big performance improvement in the form of Multi-Frame Rendering, which promises up to four times faster performance by leveraging the performance of multi-core CPUs. There are also new features like Speculative Preview, which enables background rendering for compositions and Composition Profiler to highlight layers and effects with the biggest impact on rendering times. There’s also a reimagined Render Queue with more information and notifications.

For public beta testers, there’s a new Scene Edit Detection feature powered by Adobe Sensei, which detects scenes in rendered videos that were edited and places markers at the start and end of the edit. This makes it easier to reuse specific clips from a previous video. After Effects also now supports Apple Silicon Macs in beta.

Adobe After Effects Scene Edit Detection

Scene Edit Detection in Adobe After Effects

Premiere Pro has some new features, too, with improved speech-to-text to improve accuracy for pop culture terminology for 13 languages. There’s also a new Simplify Sequence feature that creates a clean copy of a given sequence, removing gaps, unused tracks, and more. There’s also new color management for H.264 and HEVC formats, allowing Premiere Pro to identify the correct color space of a video when importing it. Hardware acceleration is also now available for 10-bit 422 HEVC video streams, improving performance when working with these types of videos.

For beta users, a new Remix feature powered by Adobe Sensei can automatically rearrange songs so that they fit what’s in the video. The latest beta version also supports on-device speech-to-text, removing the need for an internet connection for transcription features.

As for Character Animator, a new Body Tracker feature allows content creators to record their own movements to animate puppets. For beta users, there’s a new Puppet Maker feature that removes the need to start designing a puppet in Photoshop or Illustrator. Additionally, Transcript-based Lip Sync can make a character’s lips move along to the contents of a transcript.

Aside from new features for these apps, Adobe also announced that it has acquired Frame.io. This is a collaborative video editing tool that allows different users to comment and annotate specific parts of a video to contribute to an overall better final result. These tools should eventually make it into Adobe’s own products, though that hasn’t happened yet.

Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is also getting some new features at Adobe MAX 2021, starting with the fact that it’s coming to the web, just like Photoshop, making it easier to do quick edits while away from your main machine. You can apply for the invite-only beta of Illustrator on the web here. It’s also getting the ability to ability to share projects for commenting, similar to what Photoshop got, which is available on both desktop and iPad versions of the app.

On desktop, the app has received an improved 3D design panel, making it easier to add depth to a project, and it also has the ability to use materials from Adobe Substance to give surfaces a more realistic feel. Additionally. Illustrator can now automatically add fonts that may be missing from your system when you open a document that contains those fonts. Finally, a new Discover panel has been added to teach users about different features.

Substance 3D Materials in Adobe Illustrator

Substance 3D Materials in Adobe Illustrator

Over on the iPad, Illustrator is adding support for a new feature called Vectorize. Users can take a picture of a sketch they may have drawn on paper, and Illustrator will convert it to vector graphics for easier editing. Users can also create custom calligraphy and artistic effects for brushes, there’s newly added support for object blend, and the ability to transform a multi-point line as a shape, rather than having to manipulate each anchor point individually. Additionally, Illustrator on the iPad now supports rulers and guides, version history, the ability to add PSD files from Photoshop and Fresco, and interoperability with graphics from those apps, too.

Fresco

Fresco is Adobe’s free painting app for iOS and Windows, and it’s getting a major update in the form of support for motion. Users can now add motion to their painting to create more lively artwork. Each layer in the picture can have independent motion frames, so objects don’t all move at the same time or in the same way. In addition to creating frames of motion for objects moving in place, it’s also possible to create paths for them to move along within the picture.

Another new feature in Fresco is perspective. This allows users to the focus point where they want their painting to be facing, even off the canvas. Then, Fresco shows you grid lines that align with that perspective, so you can more easily create drawings that evoke the perspective you’re going for.

Perspective Grids in Adobe Fresco

Perspective Grids in Adobe Fresco

There are also reference layers, a feature designed for coloring line art. With this feature, users can set a line art layer as a reference layer, and then use paint to fill it. Using the previous layer as a reference means the paint will use the lines of the original art to limit the fill tool, but the paint itself is a separate layer. This feature works on both pixel and vector graphics, too.

Finally, Fresco is also adding three new styles of vector brushes with jitter, which is meant to give paintings more personality. Vector brushes are scalable, meaning you can resize them as much as you need without losing quality.

Other updates from Adobe MAX 2021

Aside from the bigger updates listed above, there are other news coming from Adobe MAX 2021, including brand-new products and updates to existing ones. Here’s what else is new:

Photoshop Express

The photo editing app for smartphones, Photoshop Express, is getting a handful of new features. First, there’s the ability to change lip color in a photo using a multitude of control points to accurately choose the area where a subject’s lips are. Another new feature is smart selection, so you can easily select one or more of them to create a new image with just the objects you want from the original image.

Adobe InDesign

Adobe’s layout design tool has also received a few updates, including support for Apple Silicon Macs, giving you native performance on the Apple M1, M1 Pro, and M1 Max. A new feature in InDesign is the Adobe Capture extension, allowing users to leverage any images in their document to create color themes, shapes, and find font recommendations. Additionally, InDesign is making online copy-editing easier so users can collaborate on projects and make edits quickly in a browser.

Support for videos and Lottie files in Adobe XD

Adobe’s prototype design app, Adobe XD, now supports adding videos and Lottie files to add motion to prototypes, and there’s even a LotteFiles plugin that makes it easier to discover Lottie animations users can add to their projects. Lottie animations created with After Effects are also available in Adobe XD using this plugin.

New collaboration tools

Adobe also launched two new online collaboration tools for teams: Creative Cloud Canvas and Creative Cloud Spaces. Creative Cloud Canvas allows teams to bring together all different types of works within a project, whether that’s artwork from Illustrator, designs from Adobe XD, and so on. All this content can be viewed in the same context and team members can collaborate on how it all ties together, suggest changes, and head back into the main apps for edits.

Creative Cloud Canvas

Creative Cloud Spaces is more so a form of cloud storage, allowing teams to easily organize all the assets they have in a shared repository for easier access and navigation. By creating different spaces, teams can assign access to specific to resources to specific users, so everyone can get all the resources they need in an organized fashion. Both of these features are available today in private beta.

Content attribution and credentials

Another big piece of news from Adobe MAX 2021 has to do with content attribution and Adobe making it easier to add your credentials to your projects. In Photoshop, creators can add their credentials to projects whenever they make edits to an image. There’s a website where anyone can verify the content credentials of an image they may find online, and Adobe’s Behance platform will also display content credentials when viewing an image. Additionally, users can link their social media and crypto wallet addresses in their work, making it easier for others to find them and verify their identity.

Behance

Behance is Adobe’s platform for sharing creative work and looking for inspiration from other creators. The platform is now adding ways for creators to more easily make money off of their creations. Artists can launch user subscriptions, giving fans access to additional resources for a premium fee, thus allowing them to earn money from their work. Behance is also making it easier to find work by adding an optional “Hire Me” button to a user’s profile so anyone can ask for a commission or make a job offer. Other features include support for showcasing NFTs, the ability to attach source files to a project you share online so others can learn from your process, and improved search and explore capabilities.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Writer at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.