You’ve seen Adobe’s latest crazy technology demos. This fall the company gave users a sneak peek at these reality-shattering tools, which may eventually show up in Adobe products. But one new tool, called “Select Subject,” is bringing AI to Photoshop soon.
While Select Subject doesn’t erase the frontier between reality and fiction completely, it may herald a new era of AI-powered photo editing. What is certain is that Select Subject is going to be every photo editor’s new best friend, saving hundreds of hours of tedious selection work in Photoshop. Watch it in action:
The new selection method uses Adobe’s Sensei artificial intelligence engine to figure out the contour of any subject in your photo–whether it’s a smooth human or a furry animal–no matter the contents of the background. In the video you can see how it figures out who the subjects are in one click, discarding any detail that would have confused a dumber tool like Photoshop’s standard Magic Wand. While Magic Wand works by analyzing the tone and color of the pixels in the photo, which confuses it when there isn’t enough contrast between subjects and background, Select Subject uses machine learning to turn dumb pixels into actual objects.
The Select Subject tool’s results are not perfect–yet–but if you’ve ever patiently selected anything in Photoshop using the lasso, a masking brush, the pen, or the Magic Wand, this technology is a godsend. Adobe claims that it is designed to make the first draft of your selection and that, once that’s done, you would only have to do a little bit of manual fine tuning to make it as accurate as you want.
“Awesome!” you say, “but how soon are we going to enjoy this little AI-powered workflow power-up?” Adobe is saying “coming soon” to Photoshop CC. I’m saying “not soon enough.”
So, for now, let’s all enjoy the last few years of manual photo editing (a decade perhaps? Two at most?) before AI takes over almost completely, allowing you to do anything from removing your ex-in-laws from that photo to making you a bit more tanned. Make no mistake, that moment is coming: once artificial intelligence figures out how to recreate reality from our digital images, there will be no barriers to what it can do.