Adobe Photoshop has always been the application of choice for professional image editing. And with the new features and improvements that have been implemented in version 7, its appeal is now stronger than ever.
To describe Photoshop as merely an image editing application does not do this package justice, as it can do far more than that. For example it is almost equally at home helping you design and create entire Web pages and print adverts as it is at enhancing, re-touching or editing photographs and other digital images.
Indeed, its ability to produce almost complete Web pages, complete with all the java necessary to handle button rollovers and image swapping behaviours, makes Photoshop a tool not just for those working in more general media design and print houses, but also one that Web designers can use alongside their HTML editors.
It would be impossible to cover even a fraction of Photoshop’s features, which include just about every image editing, enhancing and printing feature you could wish for, in the space available here. In fact we can’t even cover all of the new and improved facilities found in version 7 – there are just too many of them. So, instead, we’ll concentrate only on the most important of the package’s new features.
One of the most annoying limitations of Photoshop 6 and all its predecessors was its lack of an image browser, a feature available in just about every other image editing application, including those at only a fraction of its cost. Thankfully this has finally been rectified in Photoshop 7, which now boasts a powerful image browser that not only allows you to view thumbnails of the images in any directory on your PC, but also to view information on them, such as their colour profile, size, modification date, and even any attached Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) information generated by the likes of a digital camera.
Photoshop’s painting facilities have also been improved, making it easier to choose the size, shape and dynamics of the brush you want. Some completely new features have also been added to the brush section, which amongst other things allow you to accurately simulate traditional types of painting techniques should you wish to. And you can now even combine two different brush types when painting, which allows you to produce some quite amazing results.
Photoshop’s image editing and enhancing facilities have also improved. You’ll now find it even easier to automatically correct colours in a photograph, for example, and thanks to some additions and tweaks in its Liquify facility, you’ll find making precision distortions or adding certain types of special effect an absolute doddle. Two completely new photo enhancing tools have also been added to Photoshop 7 – the healing brush and patch tool – which together make invisibly removing blemishes, scratches, dusk and wrinkles from scanned images a pleasure rather than a chore.
A great deal of progress has also been made in terms of Photoshop’s Web-oriented facilities. By far the most useful of these is the new Rollover palette to be found in ImageReady, a tightly integrated but separate, more Web-oriented application that comes bundled with Photoshop 7 as standard.
The new Rollover palette makes it far easier to create, edit and manage rollovers and image maps than was the case in previous versions of the package. However, it is still not quite as easy or intuitive as performing the same tasks with arch-rival Macromedia’s Fireworks Web-specific image manipulation package.
Improvements have also been made in ImageReady’s Web-specific output options, with a new and very useful dithered transparency option and a selective optimisation facility. This latter feature allows ImageReady to automatically keep text and vector shapes sharp while compressing the rest of the image when outputting an image as a Web page or as Web page elements; an extremely useful facility.
A few more general improvements to Adobe Photoshop 7 are also worthy of note – albeit briefly – such as the slightly more modern look to its user interface, support for Adobe Acrobat 5′s security settings and, last but by no means least, a built-in multilingual spell checker.
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