Photoshop Elements 2022 Reviewed: Plenty of Power in a Friendly Package
While each year Adobe adds exciting new features to Photoshop CC and Premiere Pro, it seems like even more of them trickle down to their entry-level versions, Photoshop Elements ($100), and Premiere Elements ($100). While the 2022 update to Elements isn’t game-changing, it adds some useful new Guided Edits, Artistic Effects, and a number of useful features. I’ve been putting it through its paces with some of my images, and so far, I like what I see.
What’s New in Photoshop Elements 2022
The flagship new feature is definitely the ability to stylize photos, which we’ll talk about in detail, but there are lots of other new goodies as well. For those looking to add a bit of fun to your photos, you can now add animated overlays like snowflakes or sparkles to your images and save them as a short video. Additionally, you can warp your photos onto an object like your sunglasses or a mug. One new feature I’ve found helpful is the ability to extend backgrounds. When writing articles for the web we often need to fit a photo into a specific aspect ratio, and it can be time consuming to try and insert something that looks good to fill out additional space.
Photoshop Elements 2022 Makes Instant Stylized-art Mainstream
One of the trendiest new ways to spice up a photograph is by morphing it into something that resembles not just a painting or sketch, but mimics the particular style of an artist as shown in one of their works. This has become possible because of a number of AI-based innovations loosely-coupled around the concept of StyleGANs (GANs are a machine learning system consisting of Generative Adversarial Networks). The idea of StyleGAN-type systems is that you have (at least) two neural networks. One tries to learn about and reproduce the content of an image, and the other is designed to make the style of the image as close as possible to some work of art. The two fight it out (the A stands for Adversarial after all) until they reach an un-easy truce and you have a version of your photograph that echoes your chosen style.
StyleGAN systems aren’t new with Elements, as they’ve been around for several years. But typically, they require the user to train the networks based on their photograph and a desired piece of art, which requires a powerful GPU, and plenty of patience, to render a high-resolution image. Adobe has built on its Sensei AI platform to provide a few dozen artistic styles for which Elements 2022 is already trained. As a result, you can quickly flip between potential styles to select one that appeals to you. Another element that Adobe has simplified is the tradeoff between how closely the final result hews to the content of the photo versus the style of the artwork. In StyleGAN terms that is controlled by how the networks are connected, and their relative weights. Adobe has simplified all of that into a single slider.
What Photoshop Power Users Might Miss Most
Even though the raw functionality of Elements has approached that of Photoshop, there are some features I miss nearly every time I use it. First is the ability to save custom tool settings. I have a number of custom crops that I use for various positioning in articles or submissions to publications. They’re all presets in my Photoshop installation, but I have to manually type what I want in Elements. Similarly, saving presets for other tools and for the raw image processor is another feature I miss. Finally, if you’re into Actions and Scripting, beyond the guided edits Elements provides, you’re probably better off sticking with the high-end version of Photoshop.
Premiere Elements 2022 Highlights
I haven’t had a chance to work with Premiere Elements 2022 yet, but it has what sound like some useful new features. One is auto-reframing, which is a feature I’ve enjoyed using in the Pro version. The concept is that often you need to re-frame a video clip for a particular social media platform, but want to keep the most important elements in the frame. Auto-reframe is designed to do quite a bit of that otherwise manual task for you.
Speaking of social media, Elements 2022 lets you edit in a variety of aspect ratios more easily, and also control the compression ratio of your final video with a simple slider so your video will fit within upload size limits. A new Guided Edit allows various fun animations with a couple clicks. Like all “cute tricks,” it’s probably best used in moderation.
Price and Availability
Both Photoshop Elemeents 2022 and Premiere Elements 2022 are available now. Purchased separately, each is $99.99, or a bundle of the two is $149.99 ($79.99 for students and teachers). Upgrades are $79.99 or $119.99 for the bundle.