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September
2005
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Adobe Photoshop CS2

Pinch me. No on second thought don’t…if it’s a dream I don’t wanna wake up. Adobe has a new version of Photoshop, their mammoth flagship image editing application and this one is choke full of new features that I don’t know how I ever lived without. Let’s take a closer look at the latest version of my favorite program.

Now, before I get too far ahead of myself swimming the pool of new features, here’s the basic scoop for those new to Photoshop or who have been using Photoshop Elements. Adobe Photoshop CS2 is the ninth version of Adobe’s principle application. Photoshop derives the appellation ‘CS2’ from its inclusion in Adobe’s Creative Suite, which includes Illustrator (for vector illustration) and InDesign (for page layout) in the Standard Edition and adds GoLive (web page authoring) and Acrobat 7 Professional (PDF creation) in the Premium Edition. Photoshop is also available as a standalone application and this review focuses on it primarily. 

Photoshop is used for working with photographs and other images whether they come from digital cameras, scanners or are generated directly in the program. At its core, Photoshop is a ‘paint’ program, but the depth of the tools is such that there are almost infinite possibilities, multiple ways to achieve specific tasks and people use it in vastly different ways.

The biggest change in CS2 is the removal of one of the previous version’s best features. Photoshop CS added the very useful File Browser, but it has now been replaced by a separate application called Adobe Bridge. I was pretty skeptical of the need for this at first; I like to avoid unnecessary complication whenever possible, but Bridge adds a level of functionality worthy of its bulk. 

Bridge works as a file browser, letting you see thumbnails of images, illustrations or page layouts (Fig. 1); even letting you save related files together as a file group. But that’s not all it does. Like the Photoshop CS File Browser, you can run batch operations — automated multi-step repetitive tasks — like creating multipage PDFs or web photo galleries images selected in Bridge. You can also run some such operations on Illustrator or InDesign files. But with Bridge you can now run batch operation while continuing to work in Photoshop, previously you would have had to take a coffee break waiting for batch completion. This is a great feature for processing loads of Camera Raw images while still getting some work done. You can display images, including multi-page PDF documents, in a full-screen slide show as well as editing a file’s metadata such as copyright notice, title or location.

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Fig. 1

But Bridge is more than a pumped-up File Browser; it’s more of a resource center. From Bridge you can browse and purchase stock photography from a variety of providers working under the umbrella of Adobe Stock Photos. Type in a few keywords to see scores of images related to the subject. A single button gets you price information or lets you search for similar images. Bridge also includes a RSS (Really Simple Syndication) reader. You can add any RSS feed that you wish, but Adobe has already set up several that will give you Photoshop tips, notices of program updates and add-ons and announcements of upcoming Photoshop-related events. Need more? Bridge gives you a steady supply of tips and tricks for Adobe programs and you can edit the color setting affecting all of the Creative Suite applications. Obviously, Bridge is a major addition to the Photoshop toolbox, but since it is a separate application, you do not have to use it at all.

Drop Shadow Layer Style
Fig. 2
Drop Shadow Layer Style
Fig. 3
Now on to the new stuff in Photoshop proper. By far, my favorite new feature is the Smart Objects. You can make a Smart Object by importing a vector graphic (like those created in Adobe Illustrator) or by selecting one or more layers and choosing Group Into New Smart Object from the Layer palette menu (Fig. 2) or under Layer menu (Layer > Smart Objects > Group into New Smart Object). With Smart Objects, you can scale, rotate and reposition the object with no loss of image quality. Photoshop continues to go back to the source information giving the user an amazing new flexibility in creating a layout. Smart Objects made from Illustrator graphics maintain their link to the original; make a change in Illustrator and the graphic is automatically updated in Photoshop.

The Layers palette now works a little differently than it has in previous versions of Photoshop. You can now select multiple layers at once by Command-clicking (Mac) or Control-clicking (Windows) each layer.

Another spectacular feature in the new Vanishing Point tool, with it you can define planes in your image and then clone objects in perspective (Fig. 3). You can also place a Smart Object onto a plane, great for Photoshopping a logo onto the side of a building.

Drop Shadow Layer Style
Fig. 4
A related tool is the Image Warp; you can apply a warp grid to an object to make a layer or Smart Object appear to conform to the contours of an image. This feature works well for making something look like it is printed on a mug or other curved surface (Fig. 4). 

Smart Guides are another useful addition in CS2. When moving a layer, you will see guideline appear making it easy to align objects in your Photoshop composition. You can also check the box that says Show Transform Commands to see the edges of a layer along with its transform handles whenever the layer is selected. 

The Red-Eye Removal tool finally makes its way from Photoshop Elements to the professional package. One click does a very serviceable job, in most cases, of removing those demonic red eyes produced by flash photography. 

Another one-click tool is the Spot Healing Brush. This works similarly to the Cloning tool, except you do not have to define an origin point. Photoshop analyzes the area around where you have clicked and does a great job of cleaning up the image. It works best on isolated flaws, dust or scratches; it does not replace the Cloning tool completely, but it certainly speeds up general image cleanup.

Drop Shadow Layer Style
Fig. 5
The Smart Sharpen filter (Fig. 5) gives you new options for sharpening an image. It will remove common types of blurring from an image like Gaussian, motion and lens blurs. The Reduce Noise filter helps to take out unwanted color noise found in some images as well as removing some JPEG compression artifacts. The Lens Correction filter (Fig. 6) gives you tools to straighten out the perspective of an image, useful when you have to shoot a scene or building from an unflattering angle. 

Many more of Photoshop CS2’s features will work with 16-bit and CMYK images than ever before. You can use tools like Liquify, Lens Blur and Adjust Shadows/Highlights.

There are so many new things in Photoshop CS2 that it is hard to list them all. How about: Support for more than 2GB of RAM on 64-bit systems, a new Animation palette for creating animated GIF files directly in Photoshop, video previews of broadcast graphics, WYSIWYG previews in the Font menu, expanded printing options, enhanced PDF support, menu customization. The list is pretty long; I suspect that every Photoshop user will find something of interest.

Drop Shadow Layer Style
Fig. 6

Adobe Photoshop CS2 is a potent upgrade to the best image-editing program on the market today, but it does require some processing horsepower behind it. You will need a computer running Mac OS X (10.2.8 or higher) or Windows 2000 or XP with some Service Packs; G3 or better (Mac) or Pentium III or better (Windows) processor, 320MB RAM, 750MB hard drive space and a 1024x768 display with at least a 16-bit video card. Adobe now requires activation of Photoshop so you will also need an Internet connection.

Adobe Photoshop CS2 retails for $599 with upgrades starting at $149. It is available now and you can find out more information at Adobe’s web site (www.adobe.com).

Paul Vaughn is a freelance graphic artist, writer and web designer who has yet to object to anything smart. If you would like to see the Graphics Guy address a specific topic, .

 

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