Photoshop CC 2018 released with new Curvature Pen and better brush tools

Here are the most significant new features of Photoshop CC 2018.

As part of the launch of Adobe Creative Cloud 2018 at the Adobe MAX conference in Las Vegas, major updates and new features are being launched for Adobe Photoshop CC.

All of the new Creative Cloud 2018 tools including Photoshop should be available for download today through your Creative Cloud application.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2018 is promising an overall performance boost to the software, with common tasks improved such as the file open launch time, improved face detection and improved image resize. But there are also a bunch of new features and tools available for you, so here we take a look further into the most significant tools. 

These include new brushes and brush preset control, the Curvature Pen Tool, the ability to edit 360-degree panoramic images and HEIF images (Apple’s new format), Microsoft Dial support, the choice of variable fonts and Select and Mask improvements.

Bear in mind there has also been updates to Photoshop Sketch for iOS and Android, and Photoshop Express.

The most exciting new feature of Photoshop CC 2018 is the Brush Preset Panel and easier brush management. Adobe says it was one of the top requested features. 

It’s much easier to find and sort through your different brush styles with enhanced brush presets, and you’ll even get to use all of Kyle T. Webster’s brush designs with the new version of Photoshop. You'll have access to over 1,400 digital brushes at no additional cost.

You can organise your brushes into folders and sub folders, while creating brand new brush presets which you can add to and organise, as seen here. You can drag and drop brush files to rearrange, and have control over their tips, stroke and name.

And brush presets now allow tool options be saved in a brush preset, such as Blend Mode, Opacity Mode and Colour. But don’t worry, you can easily convert your tool presets over to brush presets and put them in a folder.

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Alongside easier brush management is a feature that smoothes the jagged edges of your brush strokes when painting in Photoshop, as you can see here. You can can just the brush smoothing settings to your choice. Adobe has also made performance improvements to painting and introduced symmetry painting.

This brand new tool, revealed out of the blue earlier in September, will help make drawing vector shapes and masks easier and faster.

The Curvature Pen tool is a new option under the Pen tool in the Tools panel. As you click to add points, it draws curves between them. Double clicking gives you a corner point.

You can add, move or delete paths afterwards without changing tools – simplifying the path creation process. If you have already invested the time to learn the current Photoshop Pen tool, it's still there for you, but if you're just getting started, this new tool is your best bet.

We’re rather excited about better customisation of typefaces and fonts in Photoshop. You can now use variable fonts, collapsable font menus that show one typeface’s different weights, and additional type properties. 

A variable font is one in which the equivalent multiple individuals fonts can be compactly packaged within a single font file. This is done by defining variations within the font, which constitute a single- or multi-axis design space within which many font instances can be interpolated. A variable font is a single font file that behaves like multiple fonts, as seen here. Using variable fonts greatly reduces file size, which creates a faster performance and opens a world of responsive typography.

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For those new to Photoshop - so not Digital Arts readers then - a helpful Learn Panel is now available for you to choose. It triggers in-app prompts that lead you step-by-step through basic tutorials with sample before and after images.

This is purely to get you started (eg, how to bring out colours in an image) – you won’t be able to learn all the tricks of Photoshop with these.

And if you hover your cursor over the Tools Bar on the left of the Photoshop app, handy display boxes will now appear, with short animations visualising what each tool does. This is a very helpful feature and something new Photoshop users could have benefited from years ago to avoid a lot of guessing work.

With the rise in panoramic shots and 360-image technology (and the demand for immersive content), it's no surprise that Photoshop now allows for editing these files.

Photoshop also will support Apple’s new image format, HEIF (High Efficiency Image File).

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Adobe has promised more accurate results when selecting, with a faster Quick Mask and improved accuracy to create a refined edge.

This is the result of feedback from Adobe beta testers. 

Rather self explanatory, Photoshop now supports dial control for artists using devices like the Microsoft Surface Pro (see our artist's review of this here).

The dial can be used to change properties like colour and zooming in and out.

Pricing remains the same for all Creative Cloud plans apart from the Creative Cloud Photography Plan, which has had an update. It will now cost US$9.99 per month for Lightroom CC, Classic CC, Photoshop and 20GB storage.

Or you can opt for $19.99 per month with 1TB of cloud storage ($14.99 per month for current customers, first year only).

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