Photoshop in 2023: Separating Hype from Reality in AI-Assisted Tools

It’s crazy to imagine how far AI tools are present in our lives today compared to a year ago, and even more if we look up 10 years in the past, when I first started using Adobe Photoshop.

All that hours selecting the perfect outline for creating a subject mask, creating a blur in other layer to smooth some skin, adjusting the colours to get a perfect style… Now we can do all of that way quicker. The simple tools for selecting subjects work really well today, with only a few problems with hair that we’ll have to finish by hand. Now we have the option to even mask lips, teeth, face skin or body skin on Camera Raw for quick edits. This means hours of time saved.

Mask options in Camera Raw

But today I wanted to explore with you another set of seemingly new tools: the neural filters. They are a set of adjustments that use AI on Adobe Cloud and your computer to modify more complex parameters of your pictures, such as colour style, lightning direction, posture, skin, depth…

Neural filters overview

I’ve always done this with the normal tools, on many layers, like many of us learnt to use the software. So I’ve started to use this in a slightly skeptical way, leading to some good surprises and… to say the least some funny deformations (sorry Guillaume, the model on the photos)

The Skin Smoothing tool is super easy to use and it’s super efficient. It makes its job quickly and in the way you’d expect. You can adjust the intensity and its blend. No more need to create a layer with a gaussian blur and then make a mask and add a blending to improve skin texture. It’s a yes for me!

Then we got the Smart Portrait. It has some good promises, like changing the lightning, posture, happiness and expression of the subject… But the reality is sort of a mess. It could be used for a funny parody on your friend’s photo, but definitely not something pro. Makeup Transfer is another promise for the future that doesn’t work ideally neither. Makeup is a delicate matter as it depends largely on skin tone and lightning, and to transfer it that easy is a dream to yet accomplish. Hope they will make it soon!

Color Transfer uses a base photo to fulfill your picture’s RGB channels, and it offers honestly a good result, saving you time in playing with different colour tools.

Style Transfer copies the visual style and although it doesn’t convince me for portraits, it can be useful for landscapes or most of all, drawings and artworks.

Depth Blur is the last one I used for this portrait, and it makes a good mask of the subject to further blur the background. Nothing super new or innovative, but it can save you time, so for me it’s an OK!

Overall I’m quite happy with the results, we can have easily good edits which transform the perception of the image and its style completely.

Look up for neural filters next time you’re on Photoshop. Can’t wait for the newest ones!