Well, Adobe has done it again. Most people on the planet already associate great graphic software with the name Adobe Photoshop. And with every new version of Photoshop, Adobe seems to add new features that have you saying ‘Yes, I need that! Why didn’t I realize it before?’ The new Photoshop 7 is no exception. While the additions to this new version are not all major enhancements, as a whole they work together to bring Photoshop to a new level of usefulness.
In terms of customizing the application itself, Photoshop 7 provides the new Workspaces and Tool Presets features. Workspaces allows you to save the layout of your Photoshop workspace and then retrieve it again later. This comes in very handy if you are sharing your computer with other people, or if you like to have your palettes arranged differently for various tasks. For example, you could have one arrangement for painting, another for photo touch-ups, etc. The Tool Presets feature allows you to save the settings of any tool you use and then later recall them for specific tasks. For example, you can select a brush, set its size, set its mode, and save that as a Tool Preset. Essentially, this feature lets you create your own new variations of the available tools. Very nice and handy.
For increased efficiency, Photoshop 7 provides the new File Browser, and Picture Package enhancements. The File Browser is extremely useful (and some would say sorely missed in past versions) because it allows you to manage your image files right from within Photoshop. Not only that, but you can browse thumbnails of each image file instead of having to rely on filenames as the only means of identification. Also shown is an image’s metadata, such as date created, date modified, and Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) data from digital cameras. You can even do some simple manipulation of your files including rotating images, batch renaming, as well as sorting. I believe most people are going to find this feature very useful. And for those photographers out there, the Picture Package function is no longer limited to multiples of one image. You can now combine multiple images of different sizes. Plus, you can print to different page sizes, add labels or text to images, and output images as one flattened document or to separate layers.
Photoshop 7’s new paint engine may be one of the main reasons people will want to upgrade to the new version. The new paint engine gives much more control over Photoshop’s brushes, allowing you to adjust dozens of different settings including size, shape, tilt, spacing, scatter, and jitter. Simulation of different canvas and paper textures is also available. You should know, however, that even with these new enhancements, Photoshop still doesn’t come close to simulating natural painting techniques as well as Corel’s Painter.
The best new features that Photoshop 7 provides (in my opinion) are the new automated tools – the Healing brush and Auto Color command. Color correction is much easier now with Auto Color than it was with the Auto Levels or Auto Contrast commands. With a simple click of the mouse, Auto Color allows you to easily eliminate color casts and adjust the tonal range. Even more fun is the Healing brush, which lets you remove dust, scratches, blemishes, and wrinkles from your photographs. It really works well too. In contrast to other cloning tools, the Healing brush preserves the original shading, tonality, and texture of a photo. I’d like to see more automated tools implemented in future versions because Photoshop still isn’t what you would call easy to use.
There are other new features I haven’t had a chance to touch on including Web transparency, enhanced Web output, WBMP support, the pattern maker, XMP support, the spell checker, etc. I just wanted to be sure I let you know about the main reasons you may want to invest in this new upgrade. As I mentioned earlier, none of the features mentioned hear are really major improvements, but together they make for a nice upgrade, something in which most users will probably want to invest. In addition, this new version helps to keep Photoshop on its perch as the reining king of photo imaging applications.