One of the industry-standard image editing software that many photographers use on the go is Adobe Lightroom. Lightroom helps content creators and photographers avail most of the commonly used editing features on Photoshop with its intuitive user interface. Now, Adobe has announced that it will be introducing new upgrades for Lightroom to help users make selective adjustments, thanks to AI-powered selection tools. This upgrade will also be available to Lightroom Classic and Camera Raw (ACR).
Since the introduction of Lightroom 2 in 2008, the company states this is the “biggest change to providing control over selectively enhancing photos.”
The Adobe Research team intended to introduce AI-powered selection features from Photoshop, such as Select Subject and Sky Replacement, to Lightroom and ACR. Because these features were well-received, the Adobe Research Team was tasked with figuring out how to include them into ACR and Lightroom. However, the imaging processing engines in ACR and Lightroom were incompatible, the engine had to be rewritten from the ground up. This inspired the team to work on improving how selections were handled on the Lightroom app.
The feature, which is set to launch on October 26th at the 2021 Adobe MAX event, is driven by Adobe Sensei, Adobe’s AI and machine-learning toolset. It will allow photographers to focus on shot subjects such as people, buildings, and animals with a single click to fine-tune color, lighting, tone, and other aspects.
After the user picks a section of the shot, AI is used to detect certain topics or other places of interest in the image, such as the sky. The selection, called a mask, aids photographers in activities such as highlighting individuals in the shade or enhancing washed-out sky.
ACR, Lightroom, and Lightroom Classic previously supported vector-based selections (which are saved as mathematical expressions), but AI-powered masks require bitmap (or image-based) support. The AI-powered masks produce a grayscale picture where the lighter and darker values reflect different levels of selection. Within the new masking engine, Adobe wanted to guarantee that both vector-based and bitmap-based masks could operate together on the same image. While brushes, gradients, and range masks may still be created with vector-based selections to save space, the select subject and select sky tools, which can generate a mask for a subject or sky with a single click, will employ bitmaps.
Adobe created new features for ACR, Lightroom, and Lightroom Classic across desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and the web after it found out how to make those two types of selections work together.
Over a year ago, Adobe began work on Lightroom’s new masking capabilities, surveying “tens of thousands of users” to learn about the most common problems they had while making decisions. The surveys also helped Adobe discover what users appreciated about the current selection options in Lightroom and Lightroom Classic. The team also looked at how users interact with various masking tools on desktop and mobile devices. With new masking features, the team identified four critical areas to address: More power and flexibility, better workflow and selection structuring, consistency across all platforms, and enhanced in-app support.
The team built ‘Mask groups’ to make working with mask tools easier. Users can mix any mask tools inside mask groups. In a single mask group, they can combine brush, gradient, brightness, color range choices, and AI-powered tools to build a mask. Masks can also be subtracted from other masks. Moreover, Adobe users will be able to reverse selections to exclude a subject or sky from being tweaked. E.g., if you wish to change everything but the sky, for example, you may use Select Sky and then flip the masked selection. Another new feature is the option to apply range masks globally, which has been a popular request from users.
It might be difficult to keep track of what’s going on with so many masking tools. To help you manage your workplace, Adobe’s new masking panel comes in handy. The masking panel may be placed anywhere on the desktop, docked, or minimized. They can now name each mask as well, making it easier to keep track of various masks. In addition, Photoshop visualization such as a basic color overlay, color overlay on black and white, image on black, image on white, and more have been included.
New in-app help and support features have been introduced to ensure that users understand all of the many masking options available inside the Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom applications. There’s a new interactive tutorial in Lightroom that guides you through all of the masking tools step-by-step.
According to an Adobe blog post, “Adobe’s Research and Design Research teams are working on new AI-powered tools and other innovations that will make use of bitmap-based masks, which it will be delivering later next year.”