Image editing for amateurs
October 12, 1999
by Cameron Crouch
(IDG) -- Now that you've posted your vacation photos online, try the next step. How about designing digital Christmas cards with you in front of a Hawaiian backdrop?
Adobe Systems, known for its professional-imaging software, unveiled on Monday new tools that advance your digital-imaging skills from sharing to editing and card creation. Adobe is introducing PhotoDeluxe Home Edition 4.0 for Windows, and releasing ActiveShare, also for Windows.
A free download from the ActiveShare.com Web site, ActiveShare lets you store, e-mail, and post your photos to the Web. Scheduled to be available in November for $49 (or as a $39 upgrade), PhotoDeluxe 4.0 is an image-editing tool for the consumer who's ready to do a little more than store and share photos.
"Since PhotoDeluxe 1.0 came out four years ago, we found that a lot of consumers were only using a few of its features," says Loni Singer, product manager of Adobe's business and imaging solutions. "We saw what they were using and targeted a product to those tasks." That became ActiveShare.
Share and share alike
Singer says Adobe found its non-professional users were interested in photo sharing.
"ActiveShare and its accompanying Web site provide a simple way for the home user to bring photos into the computer, to store them, and to put them on the Web," she says.
With ActiveShare, you can arrange photos in digital albums or put them on the Web at the ActiveShare.com page in eCircles.com. You move images with a simple drag-and-drop motion. You can open your own e-mail client and send the photo as a normal attachment. Or, for users unfamiliar with e-mail attachments, ActiveShare will embed your photo in an e-mail message.
Through Adobe's partnership with eCircles.com, ActiveShare.com offers 15MB of photo storage and 50MB of music storage in each circle (community) you create, says Singer.
Unlike other photo storage services such as Yahoo Briefcase or Arcsoft's PhotoIsland.com, ActiveShare does not limit your photo storage; you can create as many circles as you want. ActiveShare.com stores your photos at 150 dots-per-inch resolution and about 4-by-6 inches in size.
Once you've mastered storing and sharing your photos, you may want to touch up the red eye in a shot, or create a greeting card out of another. PhotoDeluxe 4.0 provides basic editing and enhancement tools as well as templates to add your photos to cards, calendars, and other backgrounds.
ActiveShare users will find an easy transition to PhotoDeluxe, Singer says. PhotoDeluxe includes a copy of ActiveShare and has a similar interface.
PhotoDeluxe 4.0 has three primary function areas: "Get & Fix," "Cards & More," and "Share" (for editing, creating, and sharing what you make). Beyond cards, you can put your photos in an animated slideshow or on a three-dimensional object.
Adobe hopes this will pique your digital imaging interests so you'll move from PhotoDeluxe to PhotoShop LE. Launched in June, the $99 PhotoShop LE offers a pared-down (and much cheaper) version of Adobe's professional imaging tool, PhotoShop 5.5, which costs about $610.
To get you started, ActiveShare offers a free desktop and Internet tool set used to store and share digital images. Bandwidth permitting, Adobe has not ruled out the idea that those images might someday be video.
"We didn't call it PhotoShare," Singer says.
Suggestions on the site
Other imaging instructions can be found on Adobe.com, which has been recently rebuilt and reorganized to offer several features and areas for learning, networking, and viewing. It's intended to help visitors not involved in the design community that Adobe primarily serves.
"This is a new strategy for the company: to become the premiere hub of the publishing community," says Gloria Chen, director of strategy and business development.
In the newly launched Web Center, you'll find designer galleries of Adobe users' work. It also contains forums, first-person spotlights, features, and news.
If you're still learning to use Adobe software, you can try an online tutorial. One tutorial helps you create a Web banner in four steps. It was easy to select a font, color, size, animate the text, then save it or import it into a file.
Software purchases online are shipped free overnight until December 4.
Adobe plans to beef up its site even more as the company prepares to host many of its applications -- like Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects -- on the site and charge on a per-use basis, according to Chen.
Alexandra Krasne contributed to this report.
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