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December
2003

Adobe Photoshop CS

Win
Mac

For people like me, the most anticipated software update is Adobe’s Photoshop. The new features of Photoshop 8 have sparked much debate and speculation among legions of dedicated users. Adobe has decided not to have a Photoshop 8 as such, they’ve renamed it Photoshop CS (short for Creative Suite) and it has some exciting new features that will become regulars in your toolbox and will improve your workflow. Come with me to check out what’s new and kick the tires of Adobe Photoshop CS.

Most of the improvements in Photoshop CS are subtle, but they are also very powerful. An example of this is the revised File Browser (Fig. 1). The File Browser was introduced to Photoshop in version 7 making its way from Adobe’s consumer version, Photoshop Elements.  There is now a button in the Options bar that toggles the File Browser on and off, and you can now reorder the images in the browser window by dragging them into position like they were images on a light table.

Images can be flagged and you can view the image’s Metadata in the browser window. An image’s Metadata includes size and resolution, color space, digital camera settings and any GPS information saved by your camera. You can now edit this information in the browser without opening each image, even on multiple images at once. Previously you would have to open individual images and edit the File Info. You can also search for nay of this information directly in the browser.

There is now a set of menus in the File Browser that allow you to run Batch Operations on a group of images, including tasks like making a web photo gallery, a PDF presentation, a contact sheet, printing picture packages or ordering prints from the online service Shutterfly (www.shutterfly.com). The File Browser has suddenly become indispensable for batch processing.

Fig. 1

Photoshop CS includes an improved version of the Camera Raw import plug-in (Fig. 2). This allows photographers to access the raw data captured by the CCDs of their camera. This gives users more control over their images without trusting the camera’s internal processing of the image. You can even implement the same Camera Raw settings on multiple files in the File Browser; this in itself is reason for many digital photographers to upgrade.

Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Photographers who are used to traditional camera lens filters will enjoy the new Photo Filter (Fig. 3) image adjustment (Image: Adjustments: Photo Filter). Photo Filter, which can also be applied as an Adjustment Layer, simulates placing a colored gel over all or part of the image allowing for a global color correction.

As with any upgrade of this nature there are a host of other new features. Things like the Lens Blur filter, Histogram palette, much wider support for 16-bit-per-channel images and images that are up to 300,000 pixels square (that’s 90 thousand megapixels)! Some improvements will be heartily welcomed by a select group of users. Such is the case with the improved support for video imaging. The Document Setup dialog lets you now specify some common film and video sizes complete with Safe Area guides (Fig. 4). Photoshop CS even compensates for the non-square pixels used in video with Pixel Aspect Ration Correction.

Fig. 4

The new feature that really grabbed me (besides the updated File Browser) was the new Layer Comp palette (Fig. 5). I often create multilayered documents and want to see what the design would look like using different combinations of elements. Usually this would mean having multiple versions of some layers and painstakingly turning them on and off again. Layer Comps allow you to save the state of your document’s layer visibility, position and appearance. You can also easily export your Layer Comps to individual files, to a PDF file or presentation or to a web photo gallery using the new Scripts menu (File: Scripts). This is going to save a lot of time in the design stages of many projects.

Fig. 5

But there are still more great new features to this program. How about type-on-a-path? You can have text follow any path or flow inside a shape in the Paths palette; and the text remains editable, of course. You can now save your History Log with the image or to a master log file. This lets you keep detailed track of every step done to an image. This will be very useful for billing or forensic purposes. Keyboard shortcuts are now fully customizable and you can now move the image away from the center of the screen in full-screen viewing mode allowing you to more easily manipulate the edges of a document. The new Filter Gallery lets you preview the combined effect of multiple filters on one image.

Photoshop CS comes with ImageReady CS for doing web graphics. The new ImageReady creates better rollovers, can export in the Flash format and gives you much more precise control over tables. Photoshop’s web-centric sidecar also benefits from improvements like Layer Comps and the File Browser.  Files can be opened directly into ImageReady from the File Browser and files are now open in only one program or the other although they appear in the Window menu of both. This should speed things up and alleviate some confusion when switching between the programs.

Adobe Photoshop CS is a very nice upgrade to Adobe’s professional imaging package. The program retails for $649, with upgrades listing for $169. You can also get Photoshop CS as part of Adobe’s new Creative Suite. Adobe Creative Suite is available in two versions. The Standard Suite consists of Photoshop and ImageReady along with Illustrator CS, InDesign CS and the new Version Cue file system for $999 ($549 upgrade). The Premium Suite adds GoLive CS and Acrobat 6.0 Professional and lists for $1,229 ($749 upgrade).

To run Adobe’s new baby you will need Windows 2000 SP3, Windows XP or Mac OS X 10.2.4 or higher with 192 MB RAM (Adobe recommends at least 256MB). You can find out more about Adobe Photoshop CS on Adobe’s web site (www.adobe.com/products/photoshop).  Adobe once again clearly illustrates why Photoshop is the industry standard. They continue to listen to users about what they need the program to do, and then deliver the goods.

Paul Vaughn is a freelance graphic artist, writer and web designer. The Graphics Guy’s first article in PC Alamode was about Photoshop 5.0 way back in June of 1999. If you would like to see the Graphics Guy address a specific topic email Paul Vaughn at paulv@mac.com.

 

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