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Photoshop CS2 evolves
yet another generation

Software: Adobe Photoshop CS2; Creative Suite 2 Premium


NEW YORK ( — If ever there were a question of whether Adobe's pioneering Photoshop would keep abreast of the image-editing world's needs — and even anticipate them — Photoshop CS2 should dispel any such notions.

The entire Adobe Creative Suite 2 Premium — which also includes new versions of Acrobat Professional, GoLive, Illustrator and InDesign — represents a tour de force in terms of innovation, ease of use and sheer power.

Power over the processes associated with each application turns out to be CS2's core strengths.

In Photoshop CS2, one of the most astounding features is Vanishing Point. This tool allows a user to clone, paint and paste while keeping the proper perspective of an item or a background.

How does this work?

Adobe's example shows a skyscraper reaching to the sky and how this tool can be used to clone additional stories to the building. In and of itself, that's probably not so useful. But another example includes a dog standing on a wooden deck that recedes into the background. Vanishing Point can be used to remove unwanted items on that patterned floor while keeping the perspective consistent with the existing image.

Photoshop CS2 also allows users to take greater advantage of the RAW digital format, increasing the ability to batch process native files. Automatic adjustments to exposure, contrast, shadows and brightness are also a breeze. Digital negative (DNG), Adobe's proprietary-free format, is also supported.

The Heal brush, one of the most powerful tools introduced in Photoshop 7, returns in CS2. Basically, it works like a combination of the cloning tool and the now-defunct airbrush tool. It can be used to remove utility lines from an image with sky in it. By cloning another, smooth and uncluttered, portion of blue sky and "painting" over the object you want to erase, the Heal tool pulls the texture from the spot you choose to clone, while drawing the color from the area surrounding the object you want to make disappear. (It works equally well with dust specks, if you're still using film — though, why would you want to, wonders a member of the review team who reminds us that even if you prefer chromes or Tri-X, the images are still being scanned digitally for publication.)

Creative Suite 2 increases integration between applications. For instance, you can easily see a GoLive web page as it would appear in Acrobat PDF format, or import an Illustrator vector file into a Photoshop document and manipulate it without loss of quality.

At the heart of this integration is Bridge, which replaces the acclaimed File Browser that Adobe first introduced with Photoshop 7. Bridge features improved file browsing with customizable preview settings and the ability to carry out such tasks as launching Photoshop's web gallery function. (It automatically creates a web gallery from a set of selected images.)

While Bridge, like File Browser before it, became the bane of many Photoshop users because of its supposedly slow load times, a G5 processor and at least 1 GB of memory make this a negligable area of concern. One of our testers used a Titanium Powerbook G4 500MHz with 640 MB RAM, which made the feature quite pokey, though he still appreciated the convenience and actually used it.

One other feature few users likely sought but Adobe included anyway is the superior copy-protection of the entire suite. Each installation has to be activated either online or via phone with a friendly Adobe representative. Changing computers requires a user to uninstall, deactivate, reinstall and reactivate Creative Suite 2. Installing on an external drive doesn't create a loophole, either. (Adobe also boosted its currency counterfeiting protection, too, thwarting would-be felons.)

One quick word about GoLive and InDesign: These applications, which Adobe created despite an established field of web authoring software and a ubiquitous desktop publishing application (i.e., Quark) represent a significant risk. But the results are impressive — from InDesign's support for Photoshop and PDF layers and streamlined production features to GoLive's powerful total-site management capabilities and improved live rendering.

Photoshop CS2, as well as the entire Creative Suite 2, stands as a powerful example of what software should be: Powerful, innovative and intuitive. Adobe's latest offerings solidly cement its status as the premier name in digital imaging — and perhaps cross-platform design, too — at least through the next generation of applications. [2005.08] | | | TOP

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