My First Impressions of Photoshop CS6 from an Artist’s View

Adobe Photoshop and I go back almost 14 years. In fact, it was the first tool I used for making my comics. (My workflow has expanded to include other drawing tools, but that’s a blog post for another time and place.)

Last week, I upgraded from Photoshop CS5.5 to Photoshop CS6. Rather than embark on a full-blown review of the app, I wanted to share a few of my initial impressions on the latest version.

Under the Hood


First off, Photoshop CS6 is a full blown 64-bit application in Mac OSX. The biggest difference between this version of Photoshop and CS5.5 is speed. Photoshop, once the bastion of bloatware, finally feels faster than its predecessor.

The speed is not just measured in application start-up time, but in the overall responsiveness of using its various tools. Because Photoshop CS6 leverages the computer’s video card even more, it runs very nimbly on my aging Mac Pro.

For example, I’ve often complained about Photoshop’s inability to keep up with the stylus when drawing. I’m pleased to report that the lagging problem is no longer present. (Now if only I could find a decent brush I could use for penciling and inking…)

It’s the little details that make Photoshop CS6 a winner for me. For example, I can finally apply layer styles to a layer group folder. The new dark user interface lets me to focus on my work. (You can choose from 5 specific grayscale colors if the darker interface bothers you.) But it’s not just the dark interface that wins me over – even working with basic vectors inside Photoshop CS6 is more pleasant.

Photoshop CS6 includes a built-in auto-save option, negating the need to purchase a third party application. Thankfully, these options are turned on by default (see the image below.)

Photoshop CS6 finally has auto-save!

It’s worth noting that one of my favorite settings (enlarging the preview type) has been moved from the Preferences section into the Type menu (Type > Font Preview Size).

Quirks and Other Weirdness

All is not beer and skittles with Photoshop CS6. I’ve noticed a few bugs. One bug, in particular, causes the app to go unresponsive when rapidly switching between tools. The bug appears to be intermittent, despite the fact that I’ve applied the first “service pack” issued by Adobe.

The new crop tool takes some getting used to, particularly because the screen “swims” as you adjust the crop edges. I prefer the older implementation. Thankfully, you can still perform a manual crop.

Scott Kelby, one of my favorite Photoshop authors, shares a few of his favorite “little secrets” that I found to be particularly useful in learning more about Photoshop CS6’s new features.


Outside of a few bugs, I’m very impressed with everything Photoshop CS6 offers. In my mind, this is a no-brainer upgrade – if nothing else, for the speed. If you’re using any previous version of Photoshop (even CS5.5), take the plunge. It is money well spent.


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