Automatic tools in Photoshop and Lightroom have come a long way, but so far, they've largely been useful for the nuts-and-bolts aspects of image manipulation. But according to a new research paper, Adobe is well on its way to automatizing the more artistic aspects of image retouching as well.

In the Deep Photo Style Transfer project, researchers from Adobe and Cornell University developed an algorithm that applies the style of a reference photo onto an original without many of the imperfections typically seen in AI-driven image manipulation.

For instance, an original photo of a daytime cityscape, paired with a night time reference photo of a different city setting, yields an end photo where night has fallen on the original city. The effect in the samples is photorealistic, without a false painterly effect, and seems relatively unafflicted with aberrations like cut-off buildings, inaccurate shadows, phony textures, distortions or artifacts.

Of course, we've only seen these results in a small set of low-resolution images, but they do seem promising.

Adobe has not confirmed if or when an algorithm like this could hit its software suite, but research like this seems to be a strong indication of the capabilities we could see in the future.

View gallery - 2 images