Toy Tech: Photoshop CC—Smart Sharpen Just Got Smarter!



Example of Smart Sharpen on my pen study of Russian artist Nicolai Fechins' classic painting.


I ran 400 miles in 2014 but now it starts all over again in 2015. New goals, new paths to discover and faster speeds will be the inevitable outcome of daily training. So, out goes the old and in comes the new! Not just for the brave road warriors equipped with the latest running tech, but for all of our graphic programs ranging from photo editing to 3D computer effects.

The funny thing is, I started to run just to clear my mind. The process simplified my life by helping me relieve stress and build cardio. The simplicity of grabbing an old pair of sneakers turned into acquiring the latest gear tech in the way of shoes, sport watches and seasonal clothing. I look best in black, but I digress. 

The computer was originally touted as the tool to help us simplify our lives by clearing out the clutter for our professional and personal well-being. The truth of the matter, however, has evolved into something much more complicated in that we not only have to invest in computers, but also software packages, following the never-ending process of upgrades and continued learning. 

In 2015, the toy industry will face the challenge of getting up to date with technology in several key areas. To add more pressure to those playing catch up, it’s a safe bet Adobe will be upgrading their products with more frequency adding the need to constantly learn new features on a steady basis.

The positive side is that this automated upgrade process will continually provide creative dreamers with amazing new toys to play with, not only raising the level of professional standards but also re-defining the way we do business. The updating of the Smart Sharpen feature of Photoshop CC bears witness to this commitment to grow their products and continually enhance the core architecture of creative tools for the better. That makes us better.

The image posted in this article clearly shows Smart Sharpen just got smarter, with more levels of intuitive user control sliders. For instance, you can take my pen sketch of an oil painting by my favorite Russian artist, Nicolai Fechin, and enlarge the image with no pixel degradation. In fact, the re-size is even sharper than the original scan.

This opens the door to polishing so many creative tasks in our toy industry, from creating concept art and engineering specs to editing high-resolution packaging images. In fact, this feature alone makes life so much easier for designers who have to deal with some very challenging digital files.

For me, the money tool is the Amount slider, which will cause the most dramatic effect to your image, but all of the other sliders are just as important, giving the ultimate control and just about any result you are looking for. Increasing the Radius slider expands the effect across the image, while Reduce Noise does wonders to enhance photos and illustrations alike.

The Shadow and Highlights settings allow even more refined precision, bringing greater definition to my messy cross-hatching without causing areas to be filed in like gobs of ink and even avoided producing broken lines with my delicate pen strokes—something that was very difficult to do back in the day.

Remember to check the Preview so you can see all of your customized settings in real time, and be sure to play with the enlarge or reduce settings (magnifying glass icons) to analyze your choices before you commit. As always, no worries if you don’t like it because you have the mighty power of Command Z right at your fingertips.

So, I encourage those of you in toy design still new to the Adobe suite of design applications to dive right in because the water is fine—really. For the others who are already swimming, have fun exploring these updated image control settings, which promise to give you even smarter tools to bring your new toy idea to life.

Thanks for all of your emails and LinkedIn correspondence last year—please keep them coming. I love the exchange of ideas and look forward to a great year of dreaming big and playing hard.


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