Photoshop Top 40, Feature #1: Open and Save

Feature #1: Open and Save

Yesterday, Adobe officially announced its forthcoming parade of graphics applications, Creative Suite 5. One day later, I close my 9-month video countdown Photoshop Top 40 with Feature #1. Timing the end of my Top 40 to the beginning of CS5 seemed like an awful long shot back in July when I started this thing. But Adobe hit its dates, we hit ours, and the two came together as planned.

Just as CS5 and Photoshop Top 40 represent a kind of alpha and omega---one beginning, the other bidding farewell---Feature #1 embodies the alpha and omega of any image-editing cycle: Open and Save. Read more » 

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Photoshop Top 40, Feature #2: The Layers Palette

Feature #2: The Layers Palette

Although Photoshop 3 is fondly remembered as the version that introduced us to layers, we sometimes forget that it was not the first image editor to do so. In my capacity as a contributing editor to Macworld magazine at the time, I reviewed at least two layer-empowered programs that beat Photoshop 3 to market, Painter X2 and Live Picture. Read more » 

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Photoshop Top 40, Feature #3: Image Size

Feature #3: Image Size

When I first pitched my Photoshop Top 40 podcast idea inside, my producer gave me a wry grin and asked me what my Number 1 feature would be. Without hesitation, I announced "Image Size, of course!"

I later decided a couple of features earned higher honors. But I still consider Image > Image Size to be indispensible. It's the determinant of image detail, the seat of resolution, the place where your megapixels live and die. If Photoshop eats and breathes pixels, then Image Size is the program's stomach and lungs. Whether you're sizing an image for output or downsampling it for the Web, Image Size is where the action is. Read more » 

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Photoshop Top 40, Feature #4: Navigation

Feature #4: Navigation

You never forget your first voyage into the great seas of graphics navigation. Mine was in 1985. I was using MacPaint, my supposed (but entirely fictional) mastery of which helped me land my first design job. I was panning an image using the scroll bars and a coworker, horrified by my behavior, showed me a trick: Hold down the Option key to get what he called "Muffy." While I found it troubling that he'd invented a pet name for something that looked and worked like a hand---did he have a nickname for his actual hand?---I had to admit, I was amazed. It had never occurred to me that such a tool (otherwise unavailable in the software) so much as existed, let alone might save me so much effort.

In creating Photoshop, Adobe "borrowed" the hand tool. But it assigned a different shortcut: the spacebar. Which just so happens to be the biggest key on the keyboard. It's as if Adobe was saying, this tool needs a shortcut more than all the others. And I couldn't agree more. Read more » 

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Photoshop Top 40, Feature #5: The Sharpen Filters

Feature #5: The Sharpen Filters

About a dozen years ago, I engaged in the only cosmetic surgery of my life (so far!), LASIK. It corrected my far vision. But now that my aging crystalline lens is as impliable as a piece of beef jerky, I require reading glasses. And there's not a thing Photoshop can do about it.

Photoshop is similarly incapable of correcting a photograph that was captured or digitized out of focus. Consider the following examples. In the first, the image is simulated to be out of focus using Photoshop's powerful (but not Top 40) Lens Blur filter. In the second, I slather on a heaping helping of the Smart Sharpen filter with little evidence of positive transformation, not to mention lots of clipped highlights and shadows.

sharpened blurriness

Compare that to the same image as it was actually captured by Jason Stitt of the Fotolia image library. With accurate focus at its disposal, the Smart Sharpen filter is capable of rendering tactile detail, even with a tiny Radius value (the number after the slash below).

sharpened focus Read more » 

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