ISSUE 595: New economy- March 20 2001
The high-tech office
impresses with newest cool effects
"The King is dead; long live the King."
While there are other programs, from Corel
Draw to Jasc Paint Shop Pro in the graphics software market,
there's no doubt that Adobe's Photoshop is king. And with
version 6, a new king inherits the throne.
Priced about $1,000 (around $350 to upgrade),
Photoshop 6 is a program that has undergone continual fine-tuning,
emerging as a mature product that can handle pictures aimed at both
paper and the Web.
This latest version keeps its standard look and feel,
now common to the whole family of Adobe pro-level applications, but
takes a step towards tidiness. The plethora of palettes can be grouped,
rolled-up and now docked onto a handy context-sensitive toolbar,
getting them out of the way while leaving them available when needed.
While new to Photoshop, the toolbar will seem familiar
to users of Quark Xpress and other page design tools, showing
the customization features of the currently selected tool.
The biggest improvement of this version, however, is
that you can draw vector-like objects and text. Unlike the standard
bitmaps that Photoshop users have worked with since time immemorial (or
at least since 1990's version 1.0), these always remain editable and
print out at the best possible resolution. This isn't handled with the
vector-graphics used in programs such as Macromedia's Freehand
or Adobe's own Illustrator; instead, geometric shapes reside on their
own layer. To move them, you need to move the layer. While somewhat
clumsy, it's still a big improvement.
Graphics professionals will probably find they still
need to accompany Photoshop with a real, full-featured vector graphics
package such as Freehand or Illustrator.
Finally, you can enter text directly onto the page,
with lots of typesetting-like control along with some neat special
Expect to see Photoshop's new text warping and
liquefying features everywhere over the next few months as they become
this season's clich?.
A new Styles palette makes it easier than ever to
apply a complex combination of effects to a layer, with premade
gradients, shadows, glows and 3D effects calling out to be used on Web
buttons. You can save your own styles, recyling your custom effects
over and over.
Web designers will be pleased with PS 6's slice
command, to cut a large graphic into more easily downloaded pieces, but
may be less pleased that to use all the package's Web power still
requires jumping back and forth to a separate program, Imageready 3.0.
Like the previous version, Photoshop 6 bundles Imageready in the
package. And while it's easy to jump back and forth between the two
without even needing to save your file, I'm surprised that Adobe hasn't
yet managed to merge the overlapping features of these two applications
into a single program.
As it is, Web designers will need enough RAM to keep
both applications open, building the basic picture in Photoshop, then
jumping to Imageready for Web animation and rollover effects.
Current users of this king of graphic software will
want to upgrade to the latest version, particularly to make use of its
improved text tools. It remains the undisputed champion of its field,
although the added features add to its bulk. (Expect that soon after
upgrading to this software, Photoshop users will feel the need to
upgrade their hardware.)
Not all of us need all this graphics power, however.
Adobe offers Photodeluxe for home and nonprofessional office users; it
is bundled with a number of scanner and digital camera models. As well,
expected soon is Adobe Elements, offering a selection of Photoshop
tools in an easier to use and more affordable package. We'll keep you