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My background in filmmaking and animating keeps my focus on any editing and animation tools that become available. I've used Photoshop over the years to design textures for 3D objects or basic photo touchups required for the final video project. And although I have a collection of decent SLR cameras, still photography is more of a hobby for me, so I've limited my use with Photoshop to the video/animating worlds. Thus when Photoshop CS4 Extended came out a couple of years ago, I was already familiar with the basic animating tools included that may have eluded the amateur or pro photographer.
That release was an important turning point both for how artists use Photoshop and for Adobe's commitment to developing tools that support the many facets of media production. This week Adobe has announced the Creative Suite 5 collection, and the 12th version of Photoshop was among the impressive upgrades.
Like CS4, the new Photoshop CS5 Extended is an advanced version of Photoshop with 3D animating tools. Once again Photoshop CS5 Extended is available as a standalone copy or as part of Adobe's variety of suite packages: Master Collection CS5; Production Premium CS5; Design Premium CS5 and Web Premium CS5. The standard version of Photoshop CS5 is available with Design Standard CS5. And once again CS5 is available for both Windows and Mac.
For the past couple of weeks, I've been working with a beta copy of the new CS5 suite of software. As with any pre-release software, there are bound to be glitches and bugs, so I proceeded cautiously with the new Photoshop CS5 Extended and fully expected a crash or two. But lo, this early build of Photoshop CS5 Extended was rock solid as I ran it through its paces, playing with the cool new features. As I write this, debates are running through my head on what new features need to be covered. Adobe does not disappoint with the amount of new tools this version comes with, but limited space prevails. Let's go down the rabbit hole and review the top new features.
Adobe Bridge gets a mini facelift with the new Mini Bridge panel, giving you access to Bridge without leaving Photoshop. Additional new features include drag and drop elements between Creative Suite programs, more options for batch renaming, and a new Export panel.
|The new Mini Bridge panel|
Image selections get a boost with the new Truer Edge technology, which offers better and faster masking results and edge detection on complex elements like fur and hair. A new color decontamination feature can remove background color around complex edges for more detailed selections. There is also a new Touch-up brush for refining masks and a new Auto-radius brush for varying selection edges.
This is a tool we've all been wanting for a long time without even knowing we wanted it. When removing an image element, Content-Aware replaces the missing pixels as if having a subject walk off camera for the second shot. After a few seconds of processing, Photoshop seamlessly fills the foreground subject with the entire background. This new feature matches tone, lighting, and noise and makes the image appear like an original photograph as if the deleted content never existed.
|Seamlessly blending the background where a section of the image was removed, Content-Aware Fill completes the process within a few seconds|
Mixer Brush and Bristle
Easily take your imagery and designs in new artistic directions with natural and realistic painting effects. The new Mixer Brush lets you define multiple colors on a single tip to paint with subtle color blends, or you can use a dry brush to blend a photo's colors to create a beautiful painting. New Bristle Tips enable you to easily paint with lifelike, naturally textured brush strokes using defined bristle properties like shape, length, and stiffness, and you can experiment away by adding Bristle Tips to a variety of Photoshop brushes.
This tool will speed up the process of all those GIF-based animations that have been populating the web. Puppet Warp will reposition a section of the image simply by setting anchor points and manipulating the section of the image from point-a to point-b. Now you can animate a single image of someone waving or a car driving from one side of the screen to the other, simply by setting the points and using the Move tool to move around the image.
|Puppet Warp seamlessly moves elements within a pic by placing anchor points|
Camera Raw 6
One of the powerful tools is Photoshop's ability to nondestructively process raw images from a camera. Camera Raw 6 now supports over 275 camera models and has a host of improved tools and finer control for detail, sharpening, noise reduction and vignetting. You can now add grain to a raw digital photo to give it a more vintage film look, or preserve color and detail while reducing noise from consumer-grade, high ISO images or even iPhones. Improved raw conversion is now possible with new demosaicing and Post-crop vignetting gets an upgrade with the new Highlight Priority tool for reproducing vignetting effects.
Adobe brings in more support for HDR with the new HDR Pro tool. High Dynamic Range imaging (HDR) is the process of taking multiple exposures, usually of a single subject and combing it together in a single image. When out in the field or in a studio, the camera is mounted on a tripod and you would take a series of photos, each one with a different exposure. At each exposure, different elements of the subject will be highlighted to give an effect. A car in the foreground may have more detail than the sky in the background, therefore a separate exposure will be needed for the background. By taking more than one photo using different exposures, a variety of images will appear. The effect is in how much you under-expose and over-expose the images before merging them together for a photorealistic or surrealistic image. After merging together a series of photos, more detail will appear in the highlights and a wider range of tones will be visible than from taking only one photo of the subject.
|The new HDR Pro window|
With the new HDR Pro tool, Adobe has added features including the ability to erase ghost artifacts that appear when there is a slight shifting of image elements between captures. Just use the new "Remove Ghosting" checkbox, and the problem is solved. You also have more control with tone mapping and adjustments and the ability to immerse viewers for spherical HDR panoramas. There is even a way to create HDR effects from a single image with the new HDR Toning tool.
|The new HDR toning tool enables you to edit a single image to create HDR effects|
Adobe continues its growth in the 3D arena with the new Repoussé technology. Considered a basic tool in most advanced 3D applications, Repoussé lets you create 3D logos and elements from the text layer, a selection or even a layer mask. Objects can be extruded, twisted, beveled or inflated, and you can apply a wide variety of surface textures like glass, chrome, moss, and different types of stone and wood. Repoussé even lets you set different types of lighting for the 3D object. And as in most common 3D applications, you can pivot the object on the axis. Now you have a 3D object within Photoshop that you can edit using all the 3D and 2D tools available, including animating.
But that is not all for Photoshop Extended and 3D. Adobe has expanded its 3D capabilities and included a wide range of powerful new tools. As a longtime user of Newtek's LightWave 3D, I came away impressed that Photoshop is not only the dominant photo-editor, but a remarkable 3D program.
One improvement that is not a visible tool is the increased speed and support for OpenGL and the new Adobe Ray Tracer. Revealed a couple of years ago as an in-development technological improvement, Adobe Ray Tracer enhances 3D object manipulation and speeds up rendering, which is especially useful when adding lights and textures to a 3D scene.
The 3D Axis tool is now context sensitive for smoother control over objects, lights and individual meshes. When working within a scene, there is now the ability to modify the range for depth of field by adjusting the focal length, animating objects coming into frame with the camera focusing on the primary object. There is even support for HDR images to light the 3D scene. In the Scene, different levels of quality can be selected for each stage of the project you are in. For example, to save system resources you can select "Interactive" or different levels of wireframe for quicker redraw time, then when ready for the final render you select between two Ray Traced settings. There is even a customizable render setting for specific needs. Photoshop Extended has also improved the Diffuse, Shadow and targeting for individual lights.
The new CS Review feature allows you to share comments and reviews with clients online for a more streamlined workflow. By writing reviews for works-in-progress, you can share these documents with clients and collaborators without leaving Photoshop CS5 Extended, thereby speeding up the workflow. Get feedback from a different time zone within Photoshop CS5 Extended, as the text of the review appears with the image. Clicking a specific comment, it takes you to the section of the project it references.
Additional New Features
Additional features include the ability to save 16-bit images as 8-bit JPEGs in a single step; an Options bar button to straighten images; scrub to zoom; adjust the opacity of many layers at once; faster import of OBJ files; neutral density preset for the Gradient tool; ability to move a selection while the active layer is hidden; drag a layer from the Layers panel to a different Photoshop document tab to copy layers between documents; On/off option for track pad gesture support (Mac OS X and Windows 7); option to close all open images without saving; ability to drag and drop a file onto an open Photoshop document to create a new layer; new creative resources, including actions, tools, presets, brushes, swatches, shapes, gradients, styles, and tool presets; Window and Door shapes added to the list of 3D meshes that can be created from a layer; customizable default values for Layer Styles; the ability to create a mask from the transparent areas of a layer and much more.
Photoshop CS5 Extended supports both Mac (OS X 10.5.7 or 10.6) and Windows (XP with SP3, Vista Home Premium and up, or Windows 7). You will need at least 2GB of storage space, 1GB RAM, DVD-ROM for installation, 1024x768 16-bit display with qualified hardware-accelerated OpenGL graphics card and 256MB of VRAM. Some GPU-accelerated features require graphics support for Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0. Available in the Premium or Standard Suites or as a standalone product, Photoshop CS5 Extended takes Adobe's production process one step closer to be the fluid workflow we are all looking for. CS5 will be available May 2010.
For twenty years, Photoshop has been the standard for image editors and photographers. Photoshop CS5 Extended has all the features of Photoshop with expanded 3D tools that graphic designers and animators alike will appreciate. For veteran Photoshop users who have been hesitant to cross-over into the world of 3D, there is no better way to learn the new technology than by utilizing Adobe's intuitive interface they are already familiar with. A powerful graphic and photo tool is now an impressive 3D design application that will broaden Photoshop's appeal.