What's New in Photoshop Elements 11

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What's New in Photoshop Elements 11

Photoshop Elements 11 Welcome Screen
© Adobe

Every fall, Adobe releases a new version of Photoshop Elements, the consumer version of its popular Photoshop brand of image editing software. Photoshop Elements offers all the tools most non-professionals will need, at a fraction of the price of industry-leading Photoshop. Here's a look at the new features of Photoshop Elements 11.

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Photoshop Elements 11 Organizer

Photoshop Elements 11 Organizer
Photos and UI © Adobe

The Organizer is split into four distinct views: Media, People, Places, and Events. The user interface colors and icons have been redesigned for less clutter and improved visibility. Text and icons are larger and the menus are easy-to-read black text on a white background. Browsing by Albums or Folders is right in the main screen and folder browsing is no longer hidden away as it had been in past versions. Hiding the browse panel on the left and switching between the Fix or Tags/Info panels on the right is done easily with the large buttons along the buttom. All the common functions are up-front and easily found.

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People View in Photoshop Elements 11 Organizer

People View in Photoshop Elements 11 Organizer
Photos and UI © Adobe, Some Photos © S. Chastain

The People view shows your photos in stacks by person. When you slide your mouse over a people stack, you get a slidehow of that person's face going from the oldest to the newsest phots as you drag the mouse from left to right over the stack. You can double click on a stack to see all the photos of that person and view them as full photos or cropped faces. When you are viewing a person's photos, you can click "Find More" at the bottom of the screen and Photoshop Elements will search through all your photos using face recognition technology to show you possible matches. Then you can quickly approve or reject the matches it presents, making people tagging a quick and easy process.

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Places View in Photoshop Elements 11 Organizer

Places View in Photoshop Elements 11 Organizer
Photos and UI © Adobe

When you click over to Places view, a map appears on the right with numbers to indicate how many photos were taken for a location. Panning and zooming the map will restrict the thumbnails to only those photos taken in that area of the map, and clicking a thumbnail will highlight the map to show where the photos were taken. If some of your photos do not have geotagging information, you can click "Add Places" to put more of your photos on the map.

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Events View in Photoshop Elements 11 Organizer

Events View in Photoshop Elements 11 Organizer
Photos and UI © Adobe, Some Photos © S. Chastain

The events view shows your photos in stacks according to events, similar to the people view. Just like people view, you can slide your cursor over the stack to show a chronological slide-show of that event. A switch at the top of the screen lets you change the view from named events to smart events. With Smart Events, Photoshop Elements attempts to detect events using date and time information in the photos metadata. You can fine tune the granularity of its groupings by dragging a slider and you can right click a grouping to create a named event. On the left is a Calendar browser to show photos from specific years, months, or days.

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Quick Edit Mode in Photoshop Elements 11 Editor

Quick Edit Mode in Photoshop Elements 11 Editor
Photos and UI © Adobe

On first launch of the Editor, Photoshop Elements 11 now starts out in the Quick Edit mode, so that new users aren't overwhlemed by the number of options in the Guided and Expert modes. On subsequent launches, the editor will use whatever editing mode was used last, so veteran users can continue working the way they are used to.

As you can see from the screen shot, the Quick Edit mode offers a limited number of tools and adjustments. When clicking a tool, a panel slides in to show all the options for the tool with easy to understand icons. Simple adjustments are available from the right-hand panel and can be controled using a slider or by clicking on a grid of previews.

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Guided Edit Mode in Photoshop Elements 11

Guided Edit Mode in Photoshop Elements 11
Photos and UI © Adobe

In Guided edit mode, Photoshop Elements walks you through the process of creating a number of photo edits, grouped under the headings of Touchups, Photo Effects, and Photo Play. When you work in the Guided edit each action is explained and only the tools you need are presented, so beginners can quickly achive more advanced effects. After performing a guided edit, all layers, masks, and adjustments are retained so expereinced users can move into the Expert mode for further experimentation.

Four new Photo Effects have been added to Guided edit mode in Photoshop Elements 11. They are: High Key, Low Key, Tilt-Shift, and Vignette. I'll show these on the next few pages.

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The New High Key Effect in Photoshop Elements 11

The New High Key Effect in Photoshop Elements 11
Photos and UI © Adobe

The High Key effect under Photoshop Elements 11 Guided edit mode gives photos a light, whitewashed appearance. You can choose color or black & white for the high key effect and add a diffused glow.

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Low Key Guided Edit Effect in Photoshop Elements 11

Low Key Guided Edit Effect in Photoshop Elements 11
Photos and UI © Adobe

The Low Key effect in Photoshop Elements 11 guided edits gives photos a darkened appearance which can add drama to a scene. The effect can be created in color or B&W, and two brushes can be used to fine-tune the low-key effect.

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Tilt Shift Effect in Photoshop Elements 11

Tilt Shift Effect in Photoshop Elements 11
Photos and UI © Adobe

The new Tilt-Shift effect in Photoshop Elements guided edits helps you to create a miniature effect which has been popular in recent years. In the Tilt Shift guided edit, you can specify the focus area, and then refine the effect by adjusting the blur, contrast, and saturation.

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Vignette Guided Edit in Photoshop Elements 11

Vignette Guided Edit in Photoshop Elements 11
Photos and UI © Adobe

The new Vignette effect is another guided edit in Photoshop Elements 11 which allows you to add a dark or light soft border to the edges of a photo. The vignette effect can be created in black or white, and can be adjusted by changing the intensity, feather, and roundness of the vignette.

I'm a bit surprised this effect wasn't already in Photoshop Elements before now, and I'm not all that impressed with it after using it. I found it created strange halo effects and ugly rings when adjusting the feather and roudness. In this screen shot, you can see some of this odd haloing. A vignette effect is not hard to ​create manually, though, and users of course still have that as an option.​

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New Lens Blur Filter in Photoshop Elements 11

New Lens Blur Filter in Photoshop Elements 11
Photos and UI © Adobe

Four new filters have been added in Photoshop Elements 11. Lens Blur, shown here, can be found under Filter > Blur. Lens Blur opens in a new window and offers a number of controls for adjusting the blur effect.

The other three are Pen & Ink, Comic, and Graphic Novel, found under Filter > Sketch. They are not available from the Filter Gallery.

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Comic Filter in Photoshop Elements 11

Comic Filter in Photoshop Elements 11
Photos and UI © Adobe

You'll have a lot of fun with the new Comic filter in Photoshop Elements 11. As you can see, you get four comic effect presets, and a number of controls for adjusting the effect further.

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Graphic Novel Filter in Photoshop Elements 11

Graphic Novel Filter in Photoshop Elements 11
Photos and UI © Adobe

The new Graphic Novel filter creates some very cool effects. It also comes with four presets and slider controls for tweaking the effect.

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Pen and Ink Filter in Photoshop Elements 11

Pen and Ink Filter in Photoshop Elements 11
Photos and UI © Adobe

The Pen & Ink filter works like the others with four presets and fine-tuning controls for detail, contrast, color, and so on.

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Refine Edge Dialog in Photoshop Elements 11

Refine Edge Dialog in Photoshop Elements 11
Photos and UI © Adobe

When making selections in Photoshop Elements 11, users now have access to the refine edge dialog for more precise control over selections. Previously this was only available for the quick selection tool, and was limited in its options. With the new Refine Edge dialog, Elements users get the same precise control over selections that was introduced in Photoshop CS5. Refine Edge lets users choose how to view a selection, and make adjustments to the smoothness, feathering, and so on. You'll wonder how you ever got by before you had these powerful refine edge controls!

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Using Actions in Photoshop Elements 11

Using Actions in Photoshop Elements 11
UI © Adobe

The Editor in Photoshop Elements 11 now has exposed its support for actions, or automated commands. Support for actions has been in Elements for a while, but it was hidden away and difficult to use. Now instead of having the Action Player buried in the Guided edit mode, it has its own palette and users can load downloaded actions directly from the palette instead of having to muck about in system folders. It also comes with a number of pre-loaded actions for adding borders, resizing, cropping, and special effects. You still can't record your own custom actions in Elements, but now most of the powerful, free actions created for the full version of Photoshop can be downloaded used in Elements with a lot less hassle.

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New Creation Layouts in Photoshop Elements 11

New Creation Layouts in Photoshop Elements 11
Photos and UI © Adobe

Photoshop Elements 11 provides new templates and layouts for photo keepsakes and online albums. Once you choose the general options for your photo creation, Photoshop Elements can automatically start the project for you by filling in the templates with your selected photos. From there you can personalize your creations by changing layout options, rearanging photos, and adding custom text and graphics. When you're finished customizing your design, you can share your projects online, print them at home, or send them to a printing service for professional results.

Photoshop Elements Review

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