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  2-20-04 | This column originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.


But My Heart Belongs To Photoshop: Adobe Creative Suite


By Bob LeVitus

I’m not an artist and I don’t even play one on TV. Still, over the past ten years I’ve used Photoshop as often as many real artists. I use it to:

  • edit screen shots for books and articles
  • repair crummy digital pictures
  • create artwork for iMovies
  • create graphics for Web sites.

And, while it’s probably overkill, I also use it to:

  • design t-shirt transfers
  • make greeting cards and business cards
  • create removable tattoos
  • make labels

And much more…

Not long ago, Adobe introduced the latest and greatest version, dubbed Photoshop CS, which is part of both new Adobe Creative Suite packages, the Standard and Premium editions. Both editions bundle combinations of Adobe’s finest programs at a reduced price. While they’re not cheap, they are an excellent value if you need any other Adobe program in addition to Photoshop.

I used Photoshop much more than any of the other apps in the suite so that’s what I’ll tell you about today. For what it’s worth, all the other programs worked fine and since they share interface elements, palettes, and keyboard shortcuts with each other, I rarely needed to consult the better-than-average online help.

Photoshop CS shows the polish of its many years of continuous development and has matured into an elegant and polished program that’s a joy to use, with excellent real-time feedback from its numerous interactive dialog boxes and other controls.

New features in the CS edition include an enhanced file browser, a feature so useful I predict you’ll never use the Finder to manage graphics files again. There’s also a sweet new Shadow/Highlight control that works wonders and can add detail to under or over-exposed digital pictures. I personally appreciated the new non-square pixel modes, which make it easier to create art used in DVD, video and film projects. And the new Layer Comps feature lets you save multiple design variations in a single Photoshop CS file, which is something I’ve dreamed about forever. It beats the heck out of saving dozens of files with cryptic names. There’s also new Lens Blur that simulates the depth-of-field blur effect you’d get using a high-end camera, and does so better than any other blur effect I know of. And my personal favorite new feature is the Filter Gallery, where you can combine and apply multiple filters in a single window in (more or less) real time. Sweet!

I love Photoshop—I never stop learning new tricks and I collect books about Photoshop like they’re going out of style. But I’m almost out of space so I’ll save that discussion for another column.

If you work with digital images, nothing comes close. Photoshop is the Rolls Royce of digital image editing. Unfortunately, priced at $600+, you may prefer a Chevrolet or a Lexus.

If that’s the case, check out Adobe’s Photoshop Elements 2.0, which is kind of like Photoshop with training wheels and some features you’ll never need torn out. Alas, Elements hasn’t been upgraded to a “CS” version yet, but even the 2.0 release makes a great introduction to the Photoshop family and costs under $100.

Adobe Photoshop CS. Street price: $649.

Adobe Creative Suite Premium (includes Adobe Photoshop CS, Adobe Illustrator CS, Adobe InDesign CS, Adobe GoLive CS, Adobe Acrobat 6.0 Pro, Version Cue). Street price: $1,229.

Adobe Creative Suite Standard (includes Adobe Photoshop CS, Adobe Illustrator CS, Adobe InDesign CS, Version Cue). Street price: $999.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0. Street price: $90.

Adobe Systems Inc. San Jose, California
800-833-6687 or 408-536-6000

Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS and the author of 41 books, including The Little iTunes Book and Mac OS X for Dummies, 2nd Edition. E-mail comments to [email protected].

Copyright © 2003 Bob LeVitus

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