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Adobe CS5: New Tools and More Speed

Stewart Tongue
Adobe Creative Suite 5, better known to webmasters and designers as CS5, is the latest evolution in a long line of wildly successful website creation software from Adobe. However, with a cost priced between $1,700 and $2,600 (depending on which version you purchase), many webmasters are left to wonder if it’s really worth upgrading from an earlier version or switching from a less expensive alternative. XBIZ has taken the time to look closely at the new tools included in CS5 and spoken with several of the top designers in the industry to help cut through all the hype.

Some top designers were most impressed by improvements in the Photoshop program, which is part of the CS5 package, but others were even more impressed with elements of CS5 outside the Photoshop module. For example, “Having Dreamweaver with Live View and CSS Inspect has already saved me countless hours,” said Tim W., Lead Designer for PIMPROLL. “By using Live View within the Dreamweaver tool, designers can eliminate many steps that used to be necessary for QA, and they can produce high-quality, fully compliant designs within the program itself. That means shorter development time for new projects and more versatility because designers can try a variety of approaches without sacrificing much stamina or build time. CS5 is a big step forward from Adobe, which has been great to see in the wake of CS4 which was largely considered a dud. The Photoshop tools are getting most of the publicity but the other elements of the package really deserve some praise as well.”

As Tim mentioned, the launch of CS4 back in October 2008 was considered lackluster by most industry insiders, it did improve performance speed by a small percentage by starting to utilize 64-bit processor power, but other than that it failed to blow anyone away with creativity or functionality improvements for its customers. So, when CS5 came out on April 2010, Adobe knew they needed to make a much bigger splash with some truly innovative upgrades.

The three major additions that have gotten a lot of attention are ‘Content Aware Fill’, ‘3D Objects’ and ‘Puppet Warp’ which make complicated image modifications take less time for professionals and become possible for doit-yourself webmasters who were unable to get satisfactory results with more traditional tools like liquefy or the healing brush. When considering the purchase of Photoshop or the entire CS5 package, these three tools are worth a much closer look.

Content Aware Fill is a fully automated tool that allows the software to determine the best way to complete an image when a portion of the image is missing or deleted. As an example, in the past if you selected and deleted a section from a picture of the ocean, you could fill that empty space with a solid color and then try to manually match the color, shadows and lighting of the ocean waves surrounding it. Obviously it would require artistic talent and careful attention to detail for anyone to slowly rebuild that area of the image and make it seem natural. With Photoshop CS5 you can simply tell the program to fill the open area and it automatically matches the lighting, shadows and colors by analyzing the surrounding area and the remainder of the image. In a few seconds, the ocean is restored to a complete, realistic and correctly shadowed image. There are numerous videos and tutorials available online from Adobe or via YouTube which show this tool in action and the results can be breathtaking.

3D Objects are handled by the Repoussé tool within Photoshop CS5 which enables easy creation of 3D objects right in Photoshop. In the past, designers wanting to add 3D objects to images in Photoshop would need to create the images in some other software and then import them into the composition of their Photoshop project. Now, the process has been significantly streamlined by allowing users to make use of 3D objects within one complete program.

You may also have heard that Photoshop now allows the creation of 3D text as well, which is partially true. Only the Extended version of CS5 handles 3D text and it does cost an additional few hundred dollars for purchase. Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended includes all the features of Photoshop CS5, plus breakthrough tools that let you create and edit, 3D text and motion-based content. Adobe recommends Photoshop CS5 for photographers and print designers, and Photoshop CS5 Extended for video professionals, cross-media designers, web designers and interactive designers. The minimal additional cost and powerful text creation possibilities make the Extended version an obvious choice for any successful webmaster or designer.

The Puppet Warp tool is a totally new way to manipulate images within Photoshop. It allows the user to add action points and anchor points to an invisible wire-frame layer of the image so that areas of the image can be moved or altered easily. From animated elephant trunks to wooden figures brought to life or models with their arms repositioned, it’s a very powerful and simple way of enhancing images. The Puppet Warp tool can also be used for subtle detail work, allowing editors to turn a frown into a smile, or to enhance the intensity of an expression with ease. First time users will undoubtedly toy around with reposing models in unrealistic ways, but as a money making method of use, being able to make fine detail changes to models may be the best use. No natural orgasm has ever looked quite as intense as one can when a talented designer is adding emphasis in ways that appear entirely natural to the naked eye.

In speaking with top designers from within the industry, the crew at Adult Design was quick to point out CS5 includes tools that benefit content shooters as well. Another reasons to buy CS5 is Lightroom 3 with a new highly efficient Lens Correction tool. A feature that makes the correction of geometric distortion or chromatic aberration quick and effective. Based on the EXIF data stored within digital photos, Lightroom 3 can determine what camera and lens were used to make the photo and then make automatic corrections to remove distortions. The Lens Profile Creator has a few default types preinstalled and the process of creating new custom lens profiles for your lens is as simple as capturing a set of checkerboard images using your specific camera and lens, converting the set of raw format images into a standard Digital Negative (DNG) file format using the Adobe Camera Raw processor, and then importing the raw DNG images into the Lens Profile Creator. The result is much less post-production work needed to adjust images because your can automatically optimize images with preset correction parameters.

Adobe earnings during the second quarter of fiscal 2010 were $943.0 million and in the third quarter —$990.3 million. That’s a considerable jump up in a weak economy from the $697.5 million earned in the third quarter of fiscal 2009. So while direct sales data of CS5 is unavailable at this time, the popularity of CS5 is clearly gaining momentum quickly and Adobe’s position as the industry standard suite of design tools appears to be stronger than ever.

Still, some top designers continue to turn out high quality sites without the use of CS5, so while many are quick to point out its strengths, clearly it isn’t an upgrade that is required by every do-it-yourself webmaster or design team. “We currently have not updated to CS5 here at the office,” said Zuana of Zuzana Designs. “I wish I could but just have not had time to make the switch.”

While a talented design team can accomplish similar quality results with earlier versions of Adobe Creative Suite, the work will undoubtedly get finished faster if the team has access to CS5. “I believe the new CS5 is a lot smoother than past versions, especially when working with the latest OS for PC and MAC and the full 64-bit processing support” said Eddie Dickman, creative director of Dickmans Design. “I don’t think the extra features are really as important to professional designers as the fast loading times and enhanced file processing speeds. What good artists and designers want from their tools are quick response, much more than the tool doing the work itself.” Conversely, for do-it-yourself webmasters with minimal design talent, CS5 provides a new level of automation and intuitive functionality that will allow many to create projects on their own which come much closer to the polished appeal of a professional designer.

The core appeal of CS5 is the fact that is strikes a good balance between making the editing process more efficient for designers while making adequate design results more possible for do-it-yourself webmasters. That dual purpose had one designer half-joking about the future of Adobe Creative Suite software, “By the time they get around to releasing CS10 pretty much anyone will probably be able to make top quality designs. In some ways it seems Adobe may be getting to the point where they are so good at automating certain aspects of the design process that they are starting to empower the mass consumer market at the expense of their hardcore professional customers.”

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