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Adobe Photoshop CS3: Top 5 Standout New Features

Upon first digging into Adobe Photoshop CS3, a few features have really popped out at me as incredibly useful. I would like to offer a brief overview of some of these new ways of attacking your creative challenges using the latest version of Adobe's flagship app. PsCS3 will run you about $649 to buy it outright if you do not own any previous versions. If you own Photoshop 7, CS, or CS2, you are eligible for upgrade pricing - looks like $199 for the upgrade. Check Adobe's store on their website for more info. For more information about what comes in the different versions of CS3, and what your suite configuration options are, see my previous post.

My current favorite five new PsCS3 features in order are: 1. Nondestructive Smart Filters 2. Quick Selection Tool & Refine Edge 3. Photomerge with advanced alignment and blending 4. Automatic layer alignment and blending 5.

Vanishing Point with adjustable angle Feature Overviews: * Nondestructive Smart Filters Adobe has finally given us non-linear, nondestructive filters. Can I just say "HOORAY!" In the past, you applied filters and effects in a linear order: one filter would alter your image, and the second filter would alter your now altered image, and a third filter would alter the altered altered image. The problem with that workflow is that if you decide you want to slightly tweak the second filter, you'd have to either undo back to that point (losing your subsequent edits), or use the history palette to step directly "back in time" to the point before you added the second filter, add your "revised" second filter and then add your third manually. All too often, you don't quite remember what exact parameters you had set on that third one - or worse, your real world project involved applying 20 filters instead of the 3 in my example and changing the second filter would mean redoing the 18 that follow it. What a drag. Because of this issue, people developed many work arounds (often involving saving off multiple "partially completed" versions of files all over your hard drive with iterative file names, hoping that if you needed to go back to a certain point in time you'd be able to figure out where you needed to be), and while these workarounds were clever and well-conceived in many cases, there was a perfect, real solution, waiting to happen. The real solution to all this is what we have been given in CS3: Nondestructive Smart Filters. In this new version, each filter and effect that you apply to a layer, remains live and continually re-editable, in real time, and the parameters that you adjust will all cascade down through whatever subsequent filters or effects you might have added to your layer. These are savable, movable, copy and pastable, and most importantly scalable. * Quick Selection tool & Refine Edge A design mentor of mine once told me "Photoshop is all about the selection.

You select something, and then you do something with the selection. Nothing more, nothing less. Remember that, and you'll never go wrong using this app." Almost 10 years later, I must say she was absolutely correct. Using Photoshop is all about "the selection." There are more tools in Photoshop for selecting than for any other single task. As in just about every version of Photoshop that has ever been released, CS3 has made even greater strides in the area of "making your selection" than comes to memory in recent years. The new Quick Selection Tool used in combination with the Refine Edge palette is about the most helpful and clean way of selecting the edges of an object in your image that I have ever seen. This new revised Quick Selection tool is so smooth. You basically set the parameters of your Quick Selection tool - as if it were a brush - and paint the general area of your image edges (like trying to select just a kid and his soccer ball out of the photo of the big game) and Photoshop is watching what you do, and interpreting what you consider to be the general edges of what you are wanting to select and it figures out what's kid and ball and what's grass and goal posts and sky and crowd and selects just what you want it to.

It's VERY fast and clean. Then, you can invoke the Refine Edge palette, and you have seemingly infinite control over exactly how the edges of that selection behave. Check out the palette to the right to get an idea of what you could do to "refine" that edge. With radius, feathering, smoothing, and various display settings, I believe this new combo will cut down on my masking and selecting time in a quantifiable way. * Photomerge with advanced alignment and blending Ever tried to stitch together a series of images that you took, that you intended to "put together" into a panorama? Even with some of the stand alone tools that have been available over the years—even those for doing quicktime VR's—are clunky and difficult to use - with mixed results at times. I have always wanted something built into Photoshop to let me do these "photo merges" - I never expected that Photoshop would actually be able to automatically do it for me. This feature floored me. The technologies involved in my number four choice "Automatic layer alignment and blending" are at work here in this feature as well, and the new auto layer alignment features in CS3 are far-reaching and crop up again and again in different areas of the application. It's really one of the revolutionary things about this new version.


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