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Photoshop’s AI Is Now So Fast That Hovering Over Objects Instantly Creates Perfect Masks

Masking was once a painstaking photo-editing process. Now it's instantaneous.

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Gif: Adobe

Many moons ago, photo editing was accomplished with razor blades and steady hands. In a major update to Adobe Photoshop today, slicing up a photo will soon be as easy as browsing the web, because like hyperlinks, the object you want to select becomes almost instantly highlighted the moment your cursor hovers over it.

For the past few years, many of the most flashiest updates Adobe has made to Photoshop have been centered around masking, and for good reason—it’s one of the most time-consuming but critical tasks when it comes to editing photos. And it’s not just about removing an unwanted object in the background of a shot, or performing a background replacement with more aesthetic scenery. Even color corrections or sharpening actions are often limited to just specific regions of a photo, requiring masks to limit their effects on the image.

At one time masking was a painstaking process that involved manually tracing around an object, but then it got easier with tools that could automatically detect the edge of an object so tracing didn’t have to be anywhere near as precise. But advancements in artificial intelligence have demonstrated how useful that technology was for automating photo edits. Today the AI-powered Adobe Sensei engine has made complex masking impossibly easy, to the point where the new version of Photoshop actually allows users to simply move their mouse cursor over on object in a shot, and it will almost instantly be highlighted and ready to mask.


But like a kid in a candy store, what if you just can’t choose what object to mask? Photoshop version 23 will also now include a “Mask All Objects” feature where Adobe Sensei will analyze an image and automatically generate separate masks for every object detected.

Image for article titled Photoshop’s AI Is Now So Fast That Hovering Over Objects Instantly Creates Perfect Masks
Image: Adobe

Among the many other announcements Adobe made today at Adobe Max 2021 was the surprising reveal that Adobe Photoshop (as well as Adobe Illustrator, the company’s vector-based design tool) would be coming to the web for users of Google’s Chrome and Microsoft’s Edge browsers. As with the debut of Photoshop on iPadOS a few years ago, the web version of the photo-editing app, which is available in beta at this point, will feature limited functionality at launch.

Multiple online collaborators will be able to view, add comments, annotations, and notes to PSD files stored in the cloud, as well as perform very basic edits: simple selections, masking, limited layers support, and rudimentary adjustments and retouching of images. The idea, at least in the initial stage, isn’t to completely replace the desktop version of Photoshop, but to provide a quick and easy way to access Photoshop project files without actually having to fire up the full-blown app, or even be on a computer with enough power to handle Photoshop’s more advanced features. It’s designed to make collaboration between artists and editors around the world more streamlined, but with more and more of the app’s processing capabilities being handed off to the cloud, who knows what Photoshop will look like in a decade? It could very well be one of the many tabs you have open in your browser.