Adobe Photoshop CS3 Top 5 Standout New Features

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Adobe Photoshop CS3: Top 5 Standout New Features

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This article explore the top 5 new features in Adobe Photoshop CS3
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photoshop cs3, adobe photoshop, photoshop


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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.

All of the things that have made making panoramas a difficult task in the
past are all done automatically. The primary among these being 1. those
times when you have to actually distort, rotate, skew or transform one of
your elements because the perspective is screwy, 2. those times when the
sun or lighting or a window made the white balance, color space or over
all wash of brightness and contrast different from one image to the next
(especially when doing 360's) and of course 3. actually finding and
aligning those overlapping areas of consecutive elements. Photoshop CS3
does these all for you and with surprisingly amazing results. It's not
just about the typical "panorama" either... I saw a demo of someone
standing "too close" to a building, and taking pictures zoomed all the
way out, of the front door, windows and window-boxes, front brick walk
way, tilting upward and taking a picture of the balcony and roof line of
the second floor - in other words, many elements that were WAY out of
whack in terms of perspective, lighting and color space, and these 4 or 5
images were distorted, tweaked, rotated, matched, blended, lighting and
color density matched... and I was amazed in like 5 seconds, there was
this "wide angle" almost "fisheye" photomerge of the front of the
building, from brick walkway to roof-line, and it looked incredible.

* Automatic layer alignment and blending

Another powerful application of this new alignment and blending
technology is with a series or stack of images of the same subject. Let's
say you wanted to take a picture of a statue in a park somewhere, or a
huge fountain, or the front of a monument or building. There are always
people walking through the frame - if you can't close down the area and
still need a picture of the statue, in the park, in it's beautiful
setting, but with no people or birds or random elements - what are you to
do? In the past, it was a painstaking process of shooting a bunch of
images, selecting the "closest" one to your vision of a nice, clean,
tourist-less frame, and begin the hours and hours of painting, cloning,
healing, brushing etc., to remove all of your "randoms." There are
artists who are very good at this process, but I'm fairly certain they
would agree that if there was a way to not have to spend all that time,
they'd take it. Well, it's here. Photoshop CS3 can take your stack of
images and by analyzing all of them, figure out which things are
permanent (things that appear in all the images like that building in the
distance, the big tree, the sidewalk, and which parts of the image are
obscured in one of the frames but not all of them, are healed
automatically by borrowing pixels from other images in the stack and
building an advanced composite of all the images and doing 90% or more of
the work for you. There's even a set of "fuzziness" sliders letting you
say "eleminate things that are in X% of the images in the stack or less."
This is so impressive to see in action. You have to try it on some of
your own images. It's really hard to believe that it's this easy to do
this sort of process now. This is one of those new areas that I'm sure
we'll see artists finding incredibly creative ways to utilize this
feature. Again, this one floored me when I first saw it.
* Vanishing Point with adjustable angle

One of the most powerful new features of Adobe CS2 was the vanishing
point feature. One limitation it had was that you only had one set of
right angles to work with in the vanishing point interface. Adobe took it
one exponential step further by adding multiple, adjustable angle
perspective planes to this vanishing point feature. What this enables you
to do is copy, paste and clone in far more complex image planes than just
the "clone parts of a building in perspective" job that the first
iteration of this feature offered (impressive and powerful, but not very
flexible). One of the big examples Adobe is pushing with this feature is
to simulate 3D packaging and work on multiple planes at various angles in
the same image. Like an open box for a new product, or even for
experimenting with your final package art by seeing it in its real-world
context. Again I think this feature has so many far reaching implications
for inventors, prototypers, 3D modelers, visual effects artists... and
can give Photoshop artists the ability to render full blown mockups of
product packaging art for clients in a whole new way - getting us to
sign-off, green-light and on to the next project at hand much more
quickly. I like that a lot.

There are numerous new features in the application, especially when you
dig down deep into the Photoshop Extended editions (sounds like a Peter
Jackson DVD...) and as the week progresses here, I'd like to look into
some of what PsCS3 Extended has to offer. The versions of PsCS3 that are
available are the Film & Video, Medical & Science, AEC (Architecture,
Engineering & Construction), and Manufacturing editions.

				
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Mike Ward Mike Ward Senior Project Manager http://thezumbavideos.com/
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