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|The Tuesday Letter
Adobe Photoshop 7
Adobe's flagship program, Photoshop 7 has a number of new features, but the only compelling reason to upgrade is the fact it now supports the latest operating systems from Macintosh and Windows.
To be honest Photoshop has never been my graphics program of choice and when it comes to vector graphics there is other software I prefer to use.
Photoshop has supported vector graphics since version 6, yet I still find some of its vector tools clumsy.
Drawing a simple box with no fill and a one pixel outline remains far too complicated for my liking.
The Photoshop 7 interface has been tided up, but not all the changes are cosmetic and a number of new features make it a worthwhile upgrade.
Bad spellers using PhotoShop for a lot of text heavy work will feel more comfortable with the multilingual spell checker, although anyone just using PhotoShop as a word processor would be missing out on a lot of creative fun.
The new Healing Brush and Patch tool offer far more options that the old Clone Stamp Tool. The Healing Brush removes scratches, blemishes or wrinkles while preserving shading, lighting texture and other attributes when cloning. It will smooth out the most furrowed brow quicker than a Botox injection.
The Patch Tool offers even more precision and will repair a selected area with pixels from another area. I found this worked well when touching up old photographs.
Getting rid of red eye from all those photographs taken with not-so-good digital cameras is still no easy task.
The new paint engine makes it possible to simulate many painting techniques. Even the artistically challenged can apply effects to a scanned image with startling effect. The Pattern Maker command is a great way to generate eye-catching patterns by merely selecting a portion of an image.
More advanced users can create custom paint brushes and edit and save brush presets.
ImageReady is still part of PhotoShop and both programs work well when creating web graphics. Graphics can now also be saved in the WBMP format commonly used for PDAs and wireless devices.
I also found the new rollover palette in ImageReady convenient when creating rollovers, slices and image maps.
Anyone forced to share a computer will appreciate the new Workspace option which makes it possible to create personalised presets or just create workspaces for specific tasks.
PhotoShop has always had good contrast and level tools for colour correction. Now there is a new one Auto Colour Correction removes colour casts from images, works well and saves time.
The new File Browser displays small thumbnails of images that can be sorted by a number of different criteria including name, size and date. This makes it easier to locate and organise images from within the program.
Adobe has made sure PhotoShop still integrates well with their other products including InDesign2.0, GoLive, LiveMotion, Acrobat and Illustrator.
Photoshop 7 finally comes close to doing just about everything I may ever need and offers a few new things I may do just because it's now possible.
I tested PhotoShop 7 on Windows ME, but it will run under all version of Windows from 98 upwards, as well as Mac OS X
Photoshop 7 (includes ImageReady) has a RRP of AU$1799. Existing users will find the AU$399 upgrade more attractive.
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