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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Five New Features in Photoshop CS4

On the 23 September 2008 Adobe Systems announced the release of the highly anticipated latest version of Photoshop, Photoshop CS4.

Photoshop has long been the industry standard professional digital image manipulation program. It fact it would be hard to get a job as a graphic designer if you didn't have experience using Photoshop.

So lets explore the new features in Photoshop CS4 and then decide whether for $199 it's worth upgrading from CS3 to CS4. If you are still working on an older version of Photoshop such as CS2 or CS then I would definitely recommend upgrading. This article is going to focus on the top 5 new features in Photoshop CS4.

1. Smoother panning and zooming and fluid canvas rotation

Working with bitmap images often involves editing pixel by pixel. The smoother zooming feature will give you much more control as you zoom in and out of your bitmaps. Plus the new rotation feature is very cool and is a huge improvement on the somewhat clumsy rotate image handles. I give these new features 9 out of 10.

2. New Adjustments Panel

This panel contains some of the most commonly used color and tone correction tools. Tools, which Photoshop users use every day such as Levels, Curves and Hue & Saturation are now all located on this single panel. Photoshop allows you to edit in a non-destructive mode using an Adjustments layer. Even though this feature is not new per se, this new Adjustment panel makes it easier to work with many of these stable Photoshop tools. I give this new feature 5 out of 10.

3. New Masks Panel

This is a very cool new feature. The new Masks Panel is really powerful and it gives you full control over both pixels and vector masks. You can adjust mask density and feathering, easily select non contiguous objects, and much more.

You can still create layer masks in the old fashioned way but this new panel is much more powerful and will make learning masking easier for new users of Photoshop. I give this new feature 8 out of 10.

4. Content-Aware Scaling

This is my favorite new feature in Photoshop CS4. This new and revolutionary Content-Aware Scaling feature is used when re-sizing images. Users can select an area of an image that you do not want to lose when resizing and Photoshop will protect it, by removing other areas first.

Content-Aware Scaling automatically recognizes skin tones to keep people from being squeezed when you resize an image. So as you resize an image, people in the picture may move closer together or further apart, but they will remain properly proportioned whilst the background changes. I would have to give this feature a 10 out of 10.

5. Many enhancements

My final new feature is really just a whole bunch of cool improvements to existing features in Photoshop CS3. These include:
1. Improved color correction with re-engineered Dodge, Burn, and Sponge tools
2. Improved auto-blending of images.
3. New preview feature on the Clone Tool.
4. Better raw image processing. I give these new features a 7 out of 10.

So in conclusion, Photoshop CS4 introduces some very new and exciting features such as fluid canvas rotation and content-aware scaling, a few new panels such as Mask Panel and Adjustments panel which help to improve your workflow, and a whole bunch of enhancements to existing features.

Overall I would have to say that $199 investment to upgrade is a no-brainer. Enjoy!

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