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Photoshop 6 Preview
by Jaddie J. Dodd
(Originally written for the September/October issue of Maclanta, the bimonthly newsletter of the Atlanta Macintosh Users Group)

“There’s a reason all those Photoshop tutorial books have hundreds and hundreds of pages—they’re abridged.”
—MDJ, 000829

If you’re a designer, artist, or publishing enthusiast, you’ll want Adobe Photoshop 6. It’s new features and enhancements make this new upgrade second only to version 3, which was the first version to offer layers.

Photoshop 6 empowers creatives with a completely retooled type engine, an integrated vector environment, much better support for developing Web graphics, tools that enable collaboration in graphics projects, and many interface enhancements that will make working in Photoshop faster and easier.

For starters, you now type directly on the canvas instead of working through a dialog box. And the type is object based, which means that it will always remain crisp and clear. Even if you transform the text, it still remains fully editable. The new type tool works more like InDesign’s type tool than the type tool of Photoshop 5.

Recall how unintuitive and laborious it is to create something as simple as a rounded-corner rectangle or an equilateral polygon in Photoshop 5.5 and earlier? Enter the new vector space of Photoshop 6. There’s a new Vector Shape tool in the toolbox that simplifies the creation of these geometric shapes. Add to this the Custom Shapes pane of the new Presets Manager and you may find yourself relying less on Illustrator and FreeHand. Experienced designers like AMUG member Kathleen Innes will tell you that these two new features alone more than justify the cost of the upgrade.

But then there’s also a new Layer Styles feature, which provides a way of saving layer settings such as a layer’s bevel, drop shadow, glow, blending mode, and opacity specifications. The benefit of using layer styles is avoiding entering values repeatedly for any of those settings when you want to reproduce a particular effect. You can share these layer settings with other Photoshop users. I expect to see a lot of useful settings offered on many graphics Web sites soon.

Photoshop’s Actions, introduced in Photoshop 4, are internal scripts that put Photoshop on autopilot for completing repetitive tasks. Want to resize, sharpen, and optimize several dozen graphics for posting on the Web-while you’re at lunch? Photoshop’s Actions can do this for you. Photoshop 6 can save Actions as droplets for easy drag-and-drop image editing from the desktop.

I mentioned the new Presets Manager when discussing Photoshop 6’s new vector capabilities. The Presets Manager is where you can store brushes, swatches, gradients, layer styles, contours, and custom shapes. You can share all of these presets with other Photoshop users, which means that you’ll likely see a lot of nifty new presets offered by many of the graphics Web sites in the near future.

Only Web designers needed to upgrade from Photoshop 5 to 5.5, because almost all the new features in 5.5 were targeted for Web graphics. Photoshop 6 offers better Web-related features than 5.5. Now you can do your image slicing in Photoshop. Slices allow the Web designer to build navigation bars and to optimize slices based on the content of the individual slice. Going further than slicing, Photoshop 6 boasts a new feature called weighted optimization, which uses a grayscale channel to map optimization settings to different parts of the image. Photoshop 6 offers an enhanced Extract Image command, which separates a subject from its background, usually so the subject can be placed on a different background. Extract Image was enhanced by the addition of three new tools for fine tuning the command’s results.

Speaking of Web graphics, Photoshop comes with a new version of ImageReady. Now at version 3, ImageReady is Adobe’s dedicated Web graphics tool. With ImageReady you can create animated GIFs, rollover effects, and optimize graphics for the Web.

Adobe must want Photoshop 6 users to spread the word, because collaboration is a recurring theme in many of Photoshop 6’s new features. First, Photoshop 6 files support both text and voice annotations. You can type or voice a note to yourself or to a colleague using this new feature. Further, you can save the Photoshop file as a PDF so that your colleagues aren’t required to have Photoshop 6 to view your work and read or listen to your annotations.

Adobe provides significant new interface changes that will be a boon to Photoshop novices and veterans alike. The Options palette is now a context-sensitive toolbar that offers more convenience for controlling a tool’s options. At the end of this new toolbar, there’s a new palette well. If you drag a palette into the palette well, it becomes a pop-down palette when you click the palette’s name. (For the palette well to be visible, your display’s resolution must be set at 1024 x 768 or higher.)

Other notable interface changes include a Recent Files submenu in the File menu, support for the new Open/Save dialog boxes (which you can use to open multiple files at once in Photoshop 6), and a new save dialog that incorporates the Save a Copy command. These are just the highlights. Adobe says there are literally “hundreds” of interface improvements in Photoshop 6.

The venerable and undisputed king of image editors requires Mac OS 8.5 to Mac OS 9, 64M of memory (with virtual memory enabled), 125M of hard disk space (after installing Photoshop), and a display resolution of 800 x 600 or greater. Upgrades cost $199 and the estimated price of the full product is $609. Photoshop 6 is scheduled for a late September release.

This article simply highlights some of the features in Photoshop 6. For more detailed information, visit Adobe’s Photoshop pages, Ben Willmore’s brand-new Ultimate Guide to Photoshop 6, and the National Association of Photoshop Professionals.

This page was posted on September 7, 2000.