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Updated Photoshop embraces the Web

PC World

(IDG) -- With Photoshop 6.0, Adobe seems to finally be pushing image editing to the Web with conviction.

Photoshop 6.0, which Adobe announced Monday, builds off version 5.5, which bundled the image editor with Adobe's Web graphics tool, Image Ready 2 (see "Adobe Photoshop 5.5 bundles Web-design app," link below). Available in September and priced at $609 ($199 for an upgrade), Photoshop 6.0 goes a step further. It adds Web graphics features such as vector shape object tools, image slicing and Web-focused compression techniques. For more-advanced Web graphics, Photoshop 6.0 also bundles Image Ready 3.0 but still maintains it as a separate application, making for a memory-intensive duo.

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For a full review of Photoshop 6.0, see "Photoshop 6.0 adds vector tools," link below.

A Web world of images

To make Photoshop more suited for editing images for both print and online media, Adobe has added some of the Web graphics features found in tools like Macromedia's Fireworks. Now, Adobe hopes Photoshop meets those needs.

"The biggest reason people use Macromedia Fireworks with Photoshop are its object-oriented controls, which let you quickly drag in a rectangle and apply a style to create a Web button or banner," says Kevin Connor, senior product manager. "Now you can do that in Photoshop and even create more complex shapes for buttons."

With Photoshop 5.5, you had to use Image Ready for slicing images -- a technique used in Web design to separate parts of images and apply different compression schemes to each, thereby speeding downloads.

Now, you can do slicing right in Photoshop 6.0, Connor says. "Basically, you can now do anything involving static Web pages -- even HTML -- within Photoshop, and then use Image Ready for dynamic Web graphics."

To tackle image compression on the Web, Photoshop 6.0 features weight optimization, a technique for varying compression levels within an image, so that similar color sections are compressed significantly, but text is not.

Slicing and layering for both media

As with previous versions, Photoshop 6.0 centers on image-editing tools and effects for layers. Layers let you separate elements within an image and change an individual element without making the change across the entire image.

In Photoshop 6.0, layers can be organized into layer sets into which you can drop elements, Connor says. "You can also save layers to a PDF file," he adds.

Photoshop 6.0 features new controls for color and effects. You can save the sophisticated, multifaceted effects applied to a layer as a style, and later apply that style to another image or layer.

Despite the obvious uses in print, layer sets and color-coding are also useful for rollovers on the Web, Connor says.

Text formatting has been vastly improved in the new version. Long requested by users, on-screen canvas text editing is finally added. This means you don't have to edit text off a text edit window in a dialog box.

Photoshop 6.0 users can also warp text, see the effect live within the layout, and even edit the warped text, Connor says.

Borrowing functions

From its InDesign program, Photoshop borrows a paragraph justification feature that automatically sets all the line breaks for a block of text.

Besides its image-editing tools for the Web, Photoshop 6.0's drawing tools for vector shapes and text-blends borrow features of another Adobe product, Illustrator. In the past, importing vector objects into Photoshop meant converting them to pixels (rasterizing). Photoshop 6.0 allows some objects to retain their vector qualities.

While Adobe has started to blend features across its product line, the company stresses Photoshop is still about the raster image.

"If it's a photo-centric project, you can do the layout in Photoshop, but if it's illustration-centric, use something like Illustrator," Connor says.




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