Considered one of the essential tools of web development, Adobe Photoshop is an ideal photo and image manipulation tool, capable of lots of other tasks related to graphic design and more. With an abundance of features, such as layering or filtering images, a variety of brushes, a large number of supported formats and customisable printing, Photoshop is considered the market leader in graphical editing programs.
The latest installment of Photoshop is CS3, which offers some enhancements compared to previous versions, and allows for much of the same flexibility, with improved start times and less memory-load on workstations configured for optimal performance.
The application was originally developed for the Macintosh platform by Thomas Knoll, sometime in the late 80’s. The embryonic version of the program was called ‘Display’ and was created in order to allow greyscale images to be shown on the Macintosh monitor, which was monochrome at the time. This allowed for better images with more levels of shading, as opposed to just black or white pixels, and proved to be successful when bundled with scanning software. By this stage the name had changed to ‘ImagePro’.
Eventually, after holding a demonstration at Silicon Valley, the software was licensed by Adobe. By 1990 the first version or ‘Photoshop 1.0’ was released under the Adobe label, still distributed exclusively for the Mac.
Main new features
The previous version of the creative suite featured many more additions than the CS3 version. These included: new creative filters, simplifying the red-eye filter by just allowing selection of the area and the addition of the ‘vanishing point mode’ which allows the program to calculate the perspective of your current image. These were all important additions which are present in the current version of the program.
The main features added to CS3 are:
A cleaner, slimmer interface – The organisation of the layout is different in the current program, allowing for more workspace to be freed by reducing the icons to a small size or re-organising your palette so that it doesn’t clutter space. The whole toolbox is now a single column, as opposed to the many columns in the previous versions.
Improved Vanishing point mode – Adobe decided to work on this feature as it proved incredibly useful and innovative in their previous package. It is now possible to rotate a selected perspective any way you like, which practically means not necessarily perpendicular to its neighbouring planes. This gives greater freedom when creating different shapes related to your image’s perspective. It is also possible to stretch and fit your selected shape three-dimensionally; the contours change and adhere to the perspective of each plane as you move it.
Improved ‘magic wand’ tools – These are actually new selection tools which are somewhat similar to the magic want selection tool in the previous version. However this was improved, as you don’t have to be careful in selecting the edge of your image (i.e. a curved edge). You can approximately go near what is considered the edge of your selection and the program will automatically snap to the borders to create an accurate floating selection.
New High Dynamic Range capabilities – If you are capable of taking several shots of one single scene with a tripod, then the program offers HDR capabilities to enhance the quality of lighting and shading levels of your image. It combines the various layers, or snapshots which you have previously taken, into one single, optimized, high quality image.
These are the main features which were introduced with the new package. It hasn’t been as feature-rich as the previous CS2 as most of the features which were already available are still there. If you are a new user to Adobe Photoshop it is strongly recommended that you try a previous version, particularly CS2, as the learning curve of the program is not particularly quick. Being a graphical editing program designed for professionals, it takes a long time to use to its maximum capabilities.
Overall, the upgrade is worth it: although the features introduced aren’t many, the layout, new selection modes, HDR capabilities and improvement of the Vanishing point mode make it a necessary buy if you are a web-developer or graphic designer.
This post is part of the series: Web Development Tools
Take a look at this group of reviews on several different programs you can use to develop web pages.