Photoshop CS4, Buy or Die

dekePod Episode 006: We're barely three months into dekePod, and suddenly, the whole paradigm shifts. By which I mean, we are once again confronted by an upgrade. Five or six years ago, I would have written an 8-page Preview article for one of the trade magazines. Today, I'm trying something new: a real-time, lightning-fast, video-based demo and product review. Here's the official marketing description:

September 23 marks the announcement of Adobe's Creative Suite 4. And that means a new version of the company's flagship image editor, Photoshop. Coming just 18 months after its predecessor, is Photoshop CS4 any good? Enter dekePod, Deke McClelland's irreverent and uncensored video series. Day and date with Adobe's announcement, Deke will provide a third-party, impartial, and highly opinionated review of the new software. Titled "Photoshop CS4: Buy or Die," this episode promises to show you all facets of the program -- complete with commentary -- without interrupting your busy day. In just five minutes, youíll know whether you want to upgrade or not. Either you buy or it dies, it's as simple as that.

If you'd like to download the video (you know, to share with the grandkids when computers and everything else we know have been rendered obsolete by electro-cosmetic bioplasmics), try one of these links:

  • For a high-quality QuickTime movie, right-click here and choose Save Target or Download Link or the equivalent.
  • For an M4V file that you can play on an iPod, right-click here and choose one of those same commands.
  • Or you can subscribe to dekePod via RSS or iTunes.

You can also check out the page at my book publisher O'Reilly Media.

Hungry for still more movies? Consult my Photoshop CS4 New Features series for, which currently includes just two movies. Both free, they explain the new tabbed-window interface and content-aware scaling.

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Good Stuff

Great podcast, Deke!

What about 3D?

Good morning, I love short & sweet, so here it is: I heard they were adding 3D layers, which includes the ability to export 3D files. What say you to this?

I've been focusing exclsuively on

the standard version of Photoshop CS4. Actually, I take that back. I did a video on the new things you can do with medical and scientific images in CS4 Extended. But that's the extent of my experience so far. So I roped in my buddy and fellow trainer (not to mention one-time Total Training host, such a small world) Chad Perkins, who has been steeped in Photoshop 3D for months now. Below is his response. Thx, Chad!!

3D in Photoshop Extended

As the author of the first book ever published on Photoshop Extended (shameless plug, sorry), I can tell you that Photoshop Extended stuff in CS4 is perhaps the biggest reason to upgrade. They've not only added features, but completely ripped out the entire PS CS3 Extended 3D engine (the same semi-cheesy one used in Acrobat 3D), and replaced it with something infinitely more powerful. Not only can you import 3D objects, my friend, but you can now paint directly on the surface of 3D objects. You can also hide and show different 3D objects on the same layer. You can add lights and cameras, and not only move them and adjust properties such as light type (spot, point, etc.) and color, but ANIMATE them as well. And yes, you can animate objects in 3D space now. In Photoshop. And yes, you can now export 3D objects in 3D formats. But it gets better. For those of you that have no 3D experience, you are no longer forced to learn a brutal new application. Photoshop CS4 Extended allows you to CREATE simple 3D objects from scratch. This includes pre-made primitives, such as spheres, pyramids, a soda can, a hat, and a few others. But it also allows you to use luminance values of a layer to create 3D objects. So, if you had a white square on a black surface, Photoshop can convert that to a 3D building (box). Feather the white edges on the map to create rounded 3D edges on the 3D object. Another one of my favorite 3D new features is that you can paint on multiple material channels! So, you can paint a bump map (even if the 3D object doesn't have one - PS will create it for you), DIRECTLY ON THE OBJECT! Now, to be fair, this is NOT anything like zbrush or Mudbox. But it's still dang cool. In addition to painting on the diffuse and bump materials, you can also directly paint reflectivity, self-illumination, and more. In a new 3D panel, you can also increase the amount of bump, reflectivity, etc. AND, you can change the type of render engine - including a RAYTRACE RENDERER! I'm missing a few features here, but you get the idea. I'm telling you - the rest of the Creative Suite (except Flash) may be suffering from a weaker than expected upgrade, but the new features in PS Extended are big. Like, Nell Carter big. BIG. Thanks for being the greatest Photoshop trainer of all time and sharing your genius with us, Deke! -Chad Perkins

Chad chad chad

After spending what seems like a lifetime taking your After Effects tutorials and getting lost more then a tourist's first time in Hong Kong, I finally got to say you do have the information, but the way you diseminate it is a mystery to me. Placing the Preferences section at the end of the beyond the basics, is a kinda challenging experience. And then there isn't enough info on that given. While I have been amazed and in awe of the incredible capabilities of After Effects I am at a loss of how to make it function best on my 3 different Mac's. At times I find that I can create (without crashing) richer material on my single processor G-4 Laptop with a gig and a half of RAM in it, then on my new Mac Pro desktop with 8 processors and 12 GB's of Ram in it. I know your Deke's friend and as such I will respect that you are here to help. But after taking your brothers tutorials in Flash (a simply amazing instructor), I realized that disseminating information is something that comes easier to some. The complexity of After Effects a side. I wish your tutorials 1. started at the beginning (having some 3-D program created material instead of photoshop material confused me and gave me the impression this was a program not compatable with photoshop from the start) 2. Had a natural progression (basic set up of "preferences" (all of the info),then to windows/pallets info, right through to how to save out files ) 3.showed a workflow of a single project from beginning to end. 4.realize that people taking a Basic Class or tutorial is beginning (knows nothing about the soft wear). The best thing I could suggest is to have you look at one of Todd's beginning tutorials and see how he lays everything out in a manor that is concise and informative. He tells you what he's going to teach you. Starting at the beginning! Then teaches you just that. Then tells you what he taught you. As simple as it sounds it is by far the most effective method of instructing I have ever had the privileged of taking. Because you are the After Effects guy at ( the most amazing online learning facility in the world!). I am sure I will be sitting through many hundreds of hours of your tutorials over the next few years, and as such I would like to see these improvements. No hard feeling Chad, just don't leave me hanging.

You know...

You know, there are better channels to use to chew me out about my After Effects training. (HINT: Not DEKE'S site about PHOTOSHOP). Show some respect. My web link is below. Feel free to use that to come to MY site, where it's much more appropriate to speak about how MY training bothers you. -Chad Perkins

Point taken

Please find it in your heart to forgive me for this inappropriate post.My attempts to reach you had gone unanswered.This was the first time I saw a chance to add my comment.I guess I got a little overzealous. I apologize. J " They thought it would be a disgrace to go forth as a group . Each entered the forest at a point that he himself had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no path . If there is a path it is someone else's path and you are not on the adventure

Deke, please read

Sorry to bother you Deke, I can't find a contact for you on your sites, I'm sure you would be overwhelmed. Would you please be kind enough to contact me (or staff) and let me assure you it would not be a waste of your time whatsoever. Thank you and regards, Tom

You can email me

At That usually prevents it from getting snagged by the spam filters. I typically correspond better here on the site than by email, but you never know.

I am looking for some quick advice

I am still learning Photoshop and it is going well as long as I do not shoot anythig in RAW format on my Nikon. Is there any way to get around this or do I need to learn about the Nikon software? I am just starting to get comfortable with Photoshop and I would hate to have to learn a new program already. Any suggestions? Terra

You want to learn Camera Raw

Camera Raw is the utility that lets you edit raw images from your digital camera, whether it be from Nikon, Canon, Olympus, whomever. Camera Raw is part of Photoshop. There are several books on the topic. If you're looking for something from me, I include a long exercise on Camera Raw in my Adobe Photoshop One-on-One book. If you want something immediately, go to and sign up for the free 7-day pass. Then look for my Photoshop CS3 One-on-One series, which includes a full chapter (Chapter 24) on Camera Raw. To fill in the gaps, check out my complete Photoshop CS2 Mastering Camera Raw series. It's a little long in the tooth, but it includes lots of valuable and pertinent info. Know this: The reason your raw images aren't working so well is because you haven't been properly introduced to Camera Raw. A few weeks from now, when you understand Camera Raw, you'll never shoot another JPEG again.

I was just checkin in to see if ...

Well I was wondering if you thought I should drop my drachmas on this upgrade. And sure enough I find this new podcast supporting the upgrade. On the one hand I like that Adobe isn't sitting on it's hands. But every 18 months coming up with a way for me to hand over, OMG! now it's $350.00. The last upgrade I think was $160.00. It's like these guys work in the Financial Division of our government... BTW ... have you ever seen the Joe's and Nancy's working in our governments Financial sector and the Adobe's peoples at the same time???? Maybe ... Well as an educator and guy who drank the Kool Aid back when I had hair, I suppose it's to late for me to fall off the Kool Aid wagon and get left behind. But answer me this "Did they up the max Ram capabilities?" I could have bought this whole suite for what I put into Ram for my new MacPro, only to find out it didn't matter, the people at Adobe can only count to 3 GB. Now I'm thinkin of coming up with "the Adobe" business plan. Where I create something people want, but purposely make it not function properly. Then over many versions start to introduce other things that don't really work. Only to slowly fix stuff and charge people for what will be called "upgrades". Do you think they would accept Drachmas? Sheckles?

ram & cool aid

James, In the past PS upgrades were priced at $199. Not sure what the price is this time around. So I'm guessing $350 is for a suite upgrade. >>>Owners of Photoshop CS3, Photoshop CS2, or Photoshop CS can upgrade to Adobe Photoshop CS4 for $199.<<<< The $350 price tag maybe to upgrade to CS4 extended. If you're an educator seek out the mother ship - there are deals for students & instructors alike from Adobe. Click on the education pricing link or shop at a vendor like the As for your Adobe biz plan, that's really not how Adobe works. As a newly minted beta tester I was surprised to see just how much research & thought goes into program development. keith

I just pinged PM John Nack

And he confirmed that Photoshop CS4 will cross the 3GB barrier, but for just one platform: Vista64 (that is, 64-bit Windows Vista) As for 64-bit on the Mac, that'll be next time.

But but but

I thought Adobe appreciated Mac users? What a let down. I feel like a red headed step child, a rented donkey, a shmoe who spent $350.00 on an upgrade that is only partially an upgrade because I don't inhabit the PC space. I am a Mac! Maybe if I cancel my order and tell them when I can get a program as good as PC users get,I will order it as an upgrade, that will send the message to the bean counters, WE ARE RELEVANT!

Adobe is having difficulty jumping through Apple's hoops

Check out the third bullet item on this post from September 8.

apple hoops

As I recall it has to do with the coding Mac vs PC systems are using. Sort of like some of the software that doesn't play well with Vista 64. I was installing a CS3 suite and Vista wasn't getting along with Acrobat and they were having some sort of a squabble during the install. After a quick google there's some patch needed. Instead I had a beer and things seemed to work themselves out. keith

New Illustrator One-on-One book

I know it's coming out after the new year, but will it be written for CS3 or CS4? And Go Buffs!

Illustrator CS4 One-on-One

So yeah, CS4. We always write with the most recent version in mind. That'll come on the heals of the Photoshop, InDesign, and Channels and Masks books, all of which will be CS4 as well and all due out this year.

Course of course

Carp, Just depends where you're taking the class. Colleges, community colleges, extension classes & adult school programs are eligible. If your class meets in a dim pub surrounded by rows of stools & beer mugs, probably not. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Ask your instructor to look into it, that's what I did (contacted a vendor). If the course isn't currently eligible, maybe it can be. It's something your instructor needs to setup with a vendor like the academicsuperstore. keith


every Monday night for about 10 weeks, so if CS doesn't ship till Q1 for the rest of the world (Q4) for US, the course will have finished anyway, so i will have to pay full price, unless i can bribe the lecture to say i am on the course again and we do it that way :-) - or i borrow the money from my parents :-p


Carpo don't be a fraudster, editing the box geesh. If you do that Colleen might put a red check mark by your name and you'll be in trouble. And you wouldn't want that to happen. Or at least I wouldn't. As for discounts.... In the past Adobe has offered upgrade pricing ($199). Or, if you're a student (like in one of my PS classes) there are discounts available from Adobe or other vendors. keith

ooooo kinky

so you think she would teach me a lesson? ;-) - don't think the course im doing is covered by their student discount, CS3 wasn't :-( - you would think it is as im doing an advanced photoshop course!! we shall have to see


Dekester, Excellent job on the CSPS4 run down. Love how you combine humor with PS stuff. And what a great way to ponder about those new Curves adjustments....Salma. Very inspirational for users of that adjustment I'm sure. Think she lives in my neighborhood. keith

Thanks for the rundown! Best

Thanks for the rundown! Best new features in a while. We can actually zoom properly in a photo editor? Amazing. Really, I can't wait. Would you say that OpenGL support makes things more responsive in general?

Yeah, OpenGL definitely

Makes the navigation process more responsive across the board. A few notes: Not sure what it's going to look like when it ships, but all the OpenGL stuff requires a compatible video card. Right now, you have to have OS X 10.4.11 or higher or Windows Vista (!). And it only works for the first four images you have open at a time. The fifth open image behaves like it does in CS3. So there are limitations. But if you can work around them, it's great.


i really dig ur videos | pretty uber-cool | something akin to motion graphics | cs4 / dekepods on cs4 are the two eagerly stuff for me now :) जीव अनुरज श्वसिहि मदेन ~ live love breathe with passion

CS4 Resources Everywhere

Deke, Thanks for the teaser information. I can’t wait for more. In addition to your great DekePod, I put together a list of resources I’ve found regarding CS4: Roger Head Camp Counselor Camp Photoshop

And's CS4U

Good list, Roger. Also check out the CS4 University at with videos covering the new features of the different CS4 applications.

Just great!

in more than one way, just great as i have not long started getting into photoshop and stuff (CS3 wasnt cheap - nor were dekes books :-p), but know i will have to save up for CS4 and all the new books deke's going to release!!!! Still looks like it will be worth it though :-p Hey deke how about big big big discounts for your loyal minions? :-D Wonder if i can edit the CS3 box to say CS4 in CS4 an sell it to some unsuspecting person!!!