Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Photoshop CS3

After Adobe's unique public beta introduction, the latest version of Photoshop has arrived. Pros will find a interface and a number of key new features to enhance images and streamline workflows.

Clone Palette

The tricky part of effective cloning is assigning the correct relationship between the source and the destination for the clone. With the new Clone palette, Adobe has come up with an ingenious method to previsualize both critical mouse clicks. That is, the new palette shows you a preview of the alignment of these two points before you begin to alter the pixels and actually clone the data. Using the Show Overlay option and altering the opacity, you can now see where the clone source and clone destination will appear based on a ghosted overlay before you commit to actually painting in new cloned pixels. With the Auto Hide check box, this overlay will disappear as you begin to paint. You can also alter the blending modes of the painted pixels using the pop-up menu in the palette. Additionally, there's control over the opacity of the cloning right from this palette. You'll just have to try it to see how clever this new capability is when doing precise cloning brushwork in Photoshop.

Turn on the Overlay and select a clone source on the red dog tag, I see this “negative” image overlay indicating where I'll paint over the image to apply the cloning. The overlay moves as I move the cursor into a new position. With Auto Hide on, as soon as I click to paint, the overlay disappears. The keyboard up/down arrows can adjust the opacity of the overlay.

New Curves

The Curves dialog in Photoshop CS3 has undergone a major overhaul. Adobe has gone to great lengths to make it both easier to use and more powerful. The custom preset menu ships with a number of curve presets. I've colored the Baseline, Intersection Line and Channel Overlays so you can see more clearly this new functionality.

First and foremost is a Histogram preview behind the curves interface. This has been a long-requested feature; however, if you don't like it, you can hide it by unclicking the Histogram check box. Note that this Histogram is based on the current state of the image and doesn't update as you move the curves. The option called Baseline places a preview of a straight line within the curves, so as you drag a new curve point, you can visually see the original starting point for any correction you make in this editing session.

The Intersection Line option provides a horizontal and vertical line jutting out from the double arrows, making it easier to see where along the grid you're moving the curve point. The double arrow is also new, again making it easier to see what you're doing.

A great new option is called Channel Overlays. Ever pull a curve on a single channel and go back to the composite only to forget you had an existing color curve? With this check box on, the color channel curves are displayed in color on the composite (RGB). For example, you can see I pulled a curve on the Red Channel while I was in the composite (RGB) channel; you can turn this off.

The Show Clipping check box displays a high-contrast preview of your images so you can see where black and white pixels are clipping. This was one reason I used Levels to set the black and white end points, but now that functionality is in Curves. Optionally, and in my opinion even more useful, Alt/Option clicking on the new black and white triangles seen below the Curves dialog produces this preview as you adjust the end points. In addition, you can use these two sliders to easily set both black and white points without having to first assign a point on the curve. The curve adjustment is forced as a flat line moving away from the corner, making it easy to set both end points. Forget the old option, click on the grid to make it finer; if you need more precision in placing curves, click on the Grid button seen in the lower portion of the UI. The new UI makes it clear how you want to set the numeric values of curve points: Light (0 to 255 scale) or Pigment/Ink% (percentages).

New to Curves are presets that can be accessed directly in the UI. You can also roll your own, save them to disk and share them with other CS3 users. The little icon to the right of the preset pop-up allows you to load, save or delete any user presets you wish. Note that the presets supplied by Adobe can't be deleted here.


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