Photoshop's Neural Filters
Light direction is one of many new AI-powered features in Photoshop; in the middle picture, the light source is on the left; in the right picture, it’s moved to the right.
Adobe’s latest Photoshop release is jam-packed with AI-powered features. The pitch, by product manager Pam Clark:
You already rely on artificial intelligence features in Photoshop to speed your work every day like Select Subject, Object Selection Tool, Content-Aware Fill, Curvature Pen Tool, many of the font features, and more. Our goal is to systematically replace time-intensive steps with smart, automated technology wherever possible. With the addition of these five major new breakthroughs, you can free yourself from the mundane, non-creative tasks and focus on what matters most – your creativity.
Adobe is branding the most exciting of these new features as Neural Filters : neural-network-powered image manipulations that are parameterized by sliders in the Photoshop UI. Some of them automate tasks that were previously very labor-intensive, while others enable changes that were previously impossible. Here’s a few of both:
- Style transfer: apply one photo’s style to another, like the classic “make this look like a Picasso / Van Gogh / Monet.”
- Smart portraits: subtly change a photo subject’s age, expression, gaze direction, pose, hair thickness, etc.
- Colorize: infer colors for black-and-white photos based on their contents.
- JPEG Artifacts Removal: smooth out the blocky artifacts that occur on patches of JPEG-compressed photos.
These all run on-device and came out of a collaboration between Adobe Research and NVIDIA, implying they’re best suited to machines with beefy GPUs — not surprising. However, the blog post is a little vague in about the specifics here (“performance is particularly fast on desktops and notebooks with graphics acceleration”), so I wonder whether this Neural Filters is also optimized for any other AI accelerator chips that Adobe can’t mention yet. In particular, Apple recently showed off their new A14 chips that feature a much faster Neural Engine. These chips launched in the latest iPhones and iPads but will also be in a new line of non-Intel “Apple Silicon” Macs, rumored to be announced next month — what are the chances that Apple will boast about the performance of Neural Filters on the Neural Engine during the presentation? I’d say pretty big. (Maybe worthy of a Ricky, even?)
Anyway, this Photoshop release is exactly the kind of productized AI that I started DT to cover: advanced machine learning models — that only a few years ago were just cool demos at conferences — wrapped up in intuitive UIs that fit into users’ existing workflows. It’s now just as easy to tweak the intensity of a smile or the direction of a gaze in a portrait photo as it is to manipulate its hue or brightness. That’s pretty amazing.