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.
But Photoshop being Photoshop (and Live Picture being several times more expensive), it was Photoshop’s Layers palette that eventually won the day. And over time, it grew to take over much of the program’s capabilities. Photoshop 3 was blessed not only with layers and layer masks, but also opacity, blend modes, and luminance blending from legacy versions. Photoshop 4 introduced adjustment layers, Photoshop 5 added layer effects and editable type layers, Photoshop 6 gave us vector-based shape layers, Photoshop CS added layer comps, CS2 introduced nondestructive smart objects, CS3 followed up with editable smart filters and layer mask refinement, CS4 added the target adjustment tool, and CS5 introduced . . . well, I’ll tell you next week.
The Layers Palette = Command Central
On average, half of any given upgrade to Photoshop’s major new features find their way into the Layers palette. Which means that just about every nondestructive or editable feature now lives there. If the Paths palette disappeared, I would miss it. There are alternatives to the Color, Swatches, Adjustments, Masks, and Navigator palettes. But can you imagine Photoshop without Layers? The removal of that one feature would cut the program to its core.
Which is why Feature #2 is the Layers Palette. It’s essential. It’s where we spend much (if not most) our time working in the program. It is Photoshop.
This week’s young woman (before I turn her into a Na’vi) is file #810773 from Jason Stitt of the Fotolia image library. For an exclusive dekeOnline deal, click this link.
BTW, I devote fully three chapters of my upcoming lynda.com video series, “Photoshop CS5 One-on-One,” to the three stages of converting this terrestrial model into a fully realized Na’vi. I’ve recorded every movie (33 in all!) and they’re all designed so you can do it with me. Here are the stages:
This Week’s Winner, Next Week’s Hint
We had a staggering number of guesses for Feature #2, many of them correct. Chosen at random, this week’s Photoshop Top 40: The Final 10 Contest winner is micke of Staten Island, NY, who very correctly guessed “The Layers Palette (er, I mean Panel).” Congratulations, Mick! Now it’s time to guess Feature #1. Hint: Without this pair of commands, you couldn’t accomplish anything. Think really basic. And keep an eye out for my newsletter in your email inbox (or spam folder .
More than $5,500 in Prizes
My final week’s prize package is priced at more than $5,500, more than one-third the value of the entire $14,000 kit-and-caboodle. Your prizes include the amazing Magic Bullet PhotoLooks from Red Giant Software, a Wacom Intuos4 Large pen tablet, an Olympus waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof Stylus Tough camera, a pass to the How Design Conference in Denver, Colorado, and a year’s membership to the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. You’ll also get $100 in Fotolia credits, three autographed copies of my One-on-One books, a month subscription to lynda.com, annual subscriptions to How and Print magazines, and the grand-slam Plug-In Suite 5 from onOne Software. And the grand prize: Your very own copy of the forthcoming Adobe Creative Suite 5.
Photoshop Top 40 is available as a downloadable podcast from iTunes. Click here to subscribe.
Best of luck on Feature #1!