It's an exciting time for graphics geeks, Web monkeys, and image jockeys with Adobe's recent release of Creative Suite 2 (CS2). Creative Suite 2 ships in two versions: Standard and Premium (shown in Figure 1). Both versions include Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, and Premium ups the ante with GoLive and Acrobat Professional. New productivity tools include Adobe Bridge, Version Cue, and Adobe Stock Photos. As usual, Adobe has added some compelling new features and made upgrading a no-brainer.
Figure 1 Creative Suite 2.
Some of the new features are not quite ready for prime time, however, or at the very least require some simple workarounds. Because the suite includes so many applications and new features, I will concentrate only on some of the highlights from Photoshop and Illustrator. So buckle your virtual seatbelt and get ready for the thrill ride ahead.
Photoshop CS 2
Photoshop is everyone's favorite image manipulation and editing program. You might wonder what Adobe could possibly add to Photoshop to make it better. Somehow Adobe has indeed managed to think of a few things. Some of the new additions aren't specific to Photoshop, and we'll explore them in more detail toward the end of this article. For now, let's start with Photoshop's brand new tool, Vanishing Point.
Vanishing Point, shown in Figure 2, is one of those tools with a lot of potential. It allows you to draw a three-dimensional grid on an image and then manipulate a pasted object to follow the perspective created by the grid. For example, imagine that you have a photograph of a wall and you want to add a banner or logo that looks like it's been painted on.
Figure 2 The Vanishing Point work environment.
Unfortunately, the tool is still in early development and needs a lot of tweaking and user feedback before it can truly shine, but it does fill a void in Photoshop's capabilities list. For example, you have to create a new, empty layer above the image you're working with, and cut or copy a raster image—be it text or some other graphic image—to the clipboard and then paste it into Vanishing Point. Once working with the pasted image, the tools at your disposal are somewhat limited—you can flip the pasted image horizontally or vertically, use the Paintbrush and Clone Stamp tools, pick up colors with the Eyedropper tool and pan around with the Hand tool. And, of course, you have the ability to create and alter the perspective planes and make selections with the Marquee, too. Hopefully, future versions will include full access to all of Photoshop's editing tools and brushes. For now, you can only paint with a round brush, but it's pretty cool watching the brush change perspective as you move it across different planes.
The Clone Stamp tool comes in handy when creating effects such as making a skyscraper disappear into the clouds or a crowd of people seem to go on forever. I used Vanishing Point to stencil the informIT logo onto the side of a building. First, I found a nice façade at Stock.XCHNG, a great source for free images. Next, I selected Vanishing Point from the Filter drop-down list and created a perspective plane by selecting the Plane tool and clicking in areas that matched the edges of the walls. For demonstration purposes, I created some extra planes by holding Control (Command) and clicking an edge of the original plane and dragging away from it, as shown in Figure 3. Vanishing Point automatically created new planes at right angles from the original each time I did this and found it to be a very useful and fun feature. Once I was happy with my grid, I clicked OK and created a text layer for the InformIT logo.
Figure 3 Setting up planes in Vanishing Point.
One of the shortcomings of Vanishing Point is the fact that you must rasterize any text before you can use it with Vanishing Point, and you must also cut or copy the text and then paste it into the Vanishing Point work environment. I noticed that when text was placed on a plane whose angle was more perpendicular to the camera's angle (as with the cube shown in Figure 2), the more "jaggy" or aliased the text became, as you can see in Figure 4. I hope this is something that Adobe will fix in future versions of Vanishing Point. It helped when I created the image at a higher resolution and then down-sampled, but this step shouldn't be necessary.
Figure 4 Aliasing in text.
After I pasted and positioned the text in Vanishing Point, I used the Transform tool to resize it. You can hold the Shift key to maintain the correct aspect ratio and rotate objects by clicking and dragging outside their selection handles. After I had things looking the way I wanted them, I clicked OK and then created a selection mask from the blue channel and used it to remove parts of the text where they covered the mortar between the bricks. This step also helped hide some of the jagged edges on the text. I then changed the blending mode to Darken and ended up with the InformIT logo stenciled on a brick wall! (See Figure 5.)
Figure 5 Your ad here!
You may be familiar with Smart Objects from Adobe GoLive. They have now shown up in Photoshop CS 2 in the form of specialized layers. Smart Objects are described by Adobe as "containers" for embedding raster or vector image data. Smart Objects allow you to perform nondestructive transforms on layer contents, such as resizing an object without losing image quality. They retain data from Illustrator vector files and allow you to edit that data within Illustrator whenever you want. You can also create unique or linked instances of an object that either reflect the changes made to an instance or retain their original appearance.
I started by creating a simple star shape in Illustrator, copying it, and pasting it into a Photoshop document. Photoshop asks you whether you want to paste the object as a Smart Object (the default), Pixels, a Path, or a Shape Layer. I chose Smart Object and then created a linked duplicate by selecting Layer > New > Layer via Copy. I then used Control (Command) T to increase the star's size and rotate it. By selecting Layer > Smart Objects > New Smart Object via Copy, I created a copy of the star that wasn't linked to the original. You'll see why in a minute. I then created several more copies using combinations of the above techniques. Double-clicking on the thumbnail preview of one of the stars in the Layers palette opened a copy of it in Illustrator, in which I changed some of its attributes and saved the object as a new Illustrator file. I repeated the process to create three unique types of stars and even replaced one of the stars with a moon, as shown in Figure 6. So this is a potentially powerful tool.
Figure 6 Playing with Smart Objects.
Unfortunately, Smart Objects are still going through some growing pains, and I found that Photoshop wanted the files saved to a specific location with a specific name. It also changed the dimensions of the moon I created to match the dimensions of the star it replaced, forcing me to reshape the moon by hand. Once these bugs are ironed out, Smart Objects promise to be a real time-saver because you maintain original copies of objects and change their appearance at will. You can even create Illustrator files with multiple layers and hide certain layers while turning others on. A very useful feature, although the distortion issue needs to be addressed.
New and Improved
There are so are many new features included in Photoshop CS 2 that it would take up all the space set aside for Illustrator CS 2 just to cover them! So here they are in a nutshell. The remaining items have been updated, adapted, or gleaned from other Adobe products.
- Red Eye removal, a staple in Photoshop Elements for quite some time, has finally made its way into Photoshop CS 2.
- Camera Raw has been updated with the capability to crop, auto correct, batch edit, and perform nondestructive edits to images.
- Multiple layer control allows you to select several layers at once, regardless of whether they're consecutive or not, and apply transforms to them.
- Image Warp, shown in Figure 7, allows you to apply the same types of warp effects you used to be able to apply only to text. It's great for creating curved effects such as labels on bottles, curly paper and so on.
Figure 7 Image Warp.
- A new Spot Healing brush that doesn't require you to select a sample area before painting (see Figure 8).
Figure 8 The Spot Healing brush.
- Finally, a font preview!
- Animation tools similar to those found in ImageReady.
- New blur tools—including Box Blur, Shape Blur and Surface blur—provide great special effects and even more blurring options.
- The new Smart Sharpen filter offers greater control than Unsharp Mask, even controlling the amount of sharpening in highlight and shadow areas. You can also save your settings and recall them later.
- The new Reduce Noise filter cleans up noise, artifacts, and grain from digital images, JPG compression, and scanned film and photographs.
This list just scratches the surface; Photoshop CS 2 offers dozens of other new features and improvements.