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Photoshop CS3 Extended (Photoshop in 3D!)
A First Look at Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended
by Ron Seifried

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For years Photoshop has been considered the defacto standard in photo editing and graphic design, and has proven to be an essential tool for motion graphic professionals. Now the crew from San Jose has taken a giant step forward by incorporating 3D and motion support with the entire feature set of Photoshop CS3. From basic architectural walkthroughs to enhanced medical imaging, Photoshop CS3 Extended ($998.95) bridges the gap between 2D imagery and 3D animations. Although nowhere near the advanced features of 3D applications like Maya and Lightwave, CS3 Extended is an intuitive complement that brings a new level of dimensionality to Photoshop.

Introduced in CS2, the Vanishing Point tool has now been expanded to measure images in perspective and export them as three dimensional objects. It's also now possible - not to mention easy - to texture a 3D model by wrapping graphics around a can or perhaps texture mapping aluminum siding on a house. When completed, you can output the object in one of the several supported 3D interchange formats including 3DS, OBJ and U3D. Further enhanced animated functionality can be performed in programs such as 3DS Max and Wavefront.

By utilizing the new 3D layer in the Layers palette, you can now easily manage 3D assets in a two-dimensional composite. Once in 3D mode, simply select the 3D object in the Options bar and wham, you have a three dimensional world within the Photoshop interface that should seem very familiar to 3D artists. From there, you can load multiple textures for enhanced surfacing such as reflections and texture mapping. This saves the process of trying to guess on how to create a seamless texture, map the surface in your 3D application, and hoping it comes out looking good. By enabling all of the texturing features within Photoshop CS3 Extended, several steps are eliminated which offers you more time to play around with other aspects of the surface and/or image.

Forget those bygone days when you actually had to export still Photoshop frames into Premiere Pro or After Effects before starting the process of animating the elements. Photoshop CS3 Extended now has Video Format and Layer support for editing video files by the frame or by adding additional layers for further compositing. What might be seen as old hat for an Adobe video pro, you can now complete a motion graphic clip and either export or import it using a wide variety of formats including QuickTime and Windows Media.

If film production is your thing, you now have the ability to create a film segment in Premiere or After Effects and bring it into Photoshop CS3 Extended with support for grayscale, RGB, CMYK and Lab images in 8, 16 and 32 bit HDR color depths.

Photoshop CS3 Extended also delves in the world of medical imaging with full support for DICOM files, which is the file format produced by ultrasound, X-ray machines, CAT and MRI scanners. With DICOM images you can now view thousands of frames in sequence, enabling a sports physician as an example to accurately determine the extent of an athlete's rotator cuff injury with an X-ray sequence from an easy-to-use dialog box. Image stacking enables radiologists to view thousands of images representing thin slices of a personís body to help determine malformations and and other anatomical irregularities.

For that budding mathematician or scientist in your life, Photoshop CS Extended supports MATLAB, the Matrix Laboratory programming language, for easy visualization of processing routines. And the powerful expanded Ruler and new Count tools, help you take exact distance measurements by simply selecting the Label Color tile and quickly tally how many holes there are in, say, London's Albert Hall. Enhanced 32-bit HDR editing includes support for brushes, layers and filers and quantitative data for figuring out how much larger a section of an image is in terms of density or area.

Photoshop CS3 Extended supports both universal binary Mac OS X 10.4.8 and Windows XP with SP2 or Vista Home Premium and up. You will need at least 1.5GB of storage space, 1024x768 16-bit or greater displays, 512MB RAM and DVD-ROM for installation. To utilize some of the 3D features, an OpenGL 1.4 card for the Mac or DirectX 9 card for Windows is recommended, both with at least 64MB RAM. Available in the Premium or Master Suites or as a standalone, Photoshop CS3 Extended takes Adobe’s production process one step closer to be the fluid workflow we are all looking for.
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