Congratulations on buying one of the most complicated pieces of software ever created. Fortunately, it's also one of the most rewarding. No other program on the market lets you massage, beautify, and transform your images like Photoshop. It's so popular that people use its name as a verb: "Dude, you Photoshopped the heck out of her!" You'd be hard-pressed to find a published image that hasn't spent some quality time in this program, and those that didn't probably should have.

The bad news is that it's a tough program to learn; you won't become a Photoshop guru overnight. Luckily, you hold in your hot little hands a book that covers Photoshop from a practical standpoint, so you'll learn the kinds of techniques you can use every day. It's written in plain English for normal people, so you don't have to be any kind of expert to understand it. You'll also learn just enough theory (where appropriate) to help you understand why you're doing what you're doing.


This book focuses primarily on the standard edition of Photoshop CS5, which runs about $700. Adobe also offers Photoshop CS5 Extended, which costs about $1,000 and offers more features primarily designed for folks who work in fields like architecture and medical science. About This Book lists some of the new Extended-only goodies.

What's New in Photoshop CS5

Adobe has added some amazing new features to Photoshop and incorporated many items that have been on customers' wishlists for years (such as changing the Fill and Opacity settings of several layers at once!). Here's an overview:

  • Workspace updates. If you're upgrading from CS4, the workspace doesn't look much different than it did, although the Tools icons got a facelift to look more modern. Also, the Application bar now includes a live workspace switcher (they're really workspace buttons) that you can drag leftward to hold as many saved workspaces as you want. In fact, the Hand and Rotate View tools were removed from the Application bar to make room for this new feature.

    If you're upgrading from CS3 or an older version, your whole Photoshop world now exists within a compact frame that you can move around and resize (this was new in CS4 for Mac users, anyway). Using the Arrange Documents menu (Arranging Open Images), you can see and work with several documents at once, whether they're side by side or stacked on top of each other. And you can create even more room for your images by collapsing panels with a double-click (Working with Panels). The Application bar (The Application Bar) gives you quick access to zoom controls, extras such as guides and grids, as well as screen modes. The Rotate View tool (now only in the Tools panel, Zooming with the Navigator Panel) lets you spin your canvas around so you can work with it at an angle.


    In Photoshop CS4, you could expand or collapse panels with a single-click. However, since most folks are used to double-clicking to do things like that, Adobe changed panel expand/collapse to a double-click in CS5.

  • Mini Bridge. To give you easier access to files through Adobe Bridge (see Appendix C, online), Adobe gave Bridge its very own panel inside Photoshop. It's named Mini Bridge because of its size and the fact that it can't quite do everything Bridge can (although you can still use full-blown Bridge anytime you want). You can drag files from the Mini Bridge panel into a Photoshop or In-Design window, search for files, get a full-screen preview by pressing the space bar, and run commands on multiple files such as the new "Merge to HDR Pro" option you'll read about on Creating High Dynamic Range Images.

    Speaking of Bridge, the regular version sports an improved Batch Renaming dialog box (for renaming multiple files at once), its "Output to PDF" option now lets you add a watermark to your files (a slightly opaque symbol or text overlay to discourage image theft), plus you can save your custom PDF and web-gallery settings to use again later. Yippee!

  • Content-Aware Fill. Arguably one of the most useful new features in CS5, this option makes zapping unwanted content from photos easier than ever. It compares your selection to nearby pixels and attempts to fill the selected area so it blends seamlessly with the background. It works with the Spot Healing brush and the Edit→Fill command.

  • Puppet Warp. If you ever need to move your subject's arms, legs, or tail into a better position, this new tool can get it done. You begin by dropping markers (called pins) onto the item you want to move, and then Photoshop automatically generates anchor points, handles, and a grid-like mesh that you use to move and distort the item. It works with pixel-based layers as well as Smart Objects.

  • New painting tools. The painting engine (the brains behind Photoshop's painting features) got an overhaul in CS5 that improves the program's overall performance anytime you're using a brush cursor. The new Bristle Tips make existing brushes—and tools that use a brush cursor—behave like their real-world counterparts, letting you create more natural paint strokes. A new Brush Preset panel lets you see what the new bristles look like and the new Mixer Brush lets you mix colors right there on your Photoshop canvas. You can even determine how wet the canvas is, how much paint you're mixing from canvas to brush, and how many colors you want to load onto your brush tip. Heck, there's even a brush-cleaning option that doesn't involve turpentine! You can also change brush hardness with the same keyboard shortcut (Ctrl-Option-drag on a Mac, or right-click+Alt+drag on a PC). And if you've used the Rotate View tool to spin your canvas so it's at a more natural angle, your brushes won't rotate.

    Other painterly improvements include keyboard shortcut access to a "heads-up" version of the Color Picker (it appears on top of your document, making it easier to swap color while you're painting), improved support for graphic tablets (like the option to make tablet settings override brush settings), and a new sample ring for the Eyedropper, which shows the current and new colors, making it easier to grab the color you want.

  • Refine Edge enhancements. One of the most exciting features of CS5 is the Refine Edge dialog box, which was redesigned so it's easier to use and now sports several options for making tough selections easier (like hair and fur). For example, a new Smart Radius option detects the difference between soft and hard edges, and the new Color Decontamination option all but eliminates any leftover pixels from the object's original background. You can also control exactly where the new selection goes—to the current layer, a new layer, a layer mask, a new layer with a mask, a new document, and so on—from within the Refine Edge dialog box!

  • HDR Pro. If you're a fan of HDR photography—taking multiple exposures and merging them into a single image—you'll love CS5's improvements related to it. The "Merge to HDR Pro" dialog box (Using Merge to HDR Pro) was redesigned so it's easier to use, and it includes several useful presets (built-in recipes for various HDR settings) for creating beautiful images right out of the box. The programming code was revamped so Photoshop merges your images faster, and a de-ghosting option was added, which is helpful if something in your image moved or shifted between shots. You can also apply HDR settings to normal images by using the new HDR Toning option in the Image→Adjustments menu.

  • Lens Correction. This filter got an upgrade and a new home: It leapt out of the Distort filter category right into the main level of the Filter menu. The Lens Correction dialog box now lets you import specific lens profiles so its distortion-removing voodoo works a lot better and, out of the box, the annoying grid option is off so you can actually see your image while you're tweaking it—a handy improvement over CS4. These lens profiles are also used by other tools such as Auto-Align Layers (Auto-Aligning Layers and Photomerge), "Merge to HDR Pro" (Creating High Dynamic Range Images), and Photomerge for panoramas (Building Panoramas with Photomerge).

  • 64-bit support in Mac OS X. The new buzzword in computing circles is "64-bit." All it really means is that Photoshop lets you open and edit huge files—ones that are over 4 gigabytes—as well as use more memory (RAM), which can make the program run faster. See the box on What Does "64-bit" Mean? for more info.

  • Improved Camera Raw. The newest version of the Camera Raw plug-in (Opening Raw files) now includes better noise reduction for zapping grain introduced by shooting in low light at a high-light sensitivity setting (ISO). Other enhancements include more options for adding post-crop vignettes (such as a soft, darkened edge) and improved sharpening that pays attention to an image's tone, contrast, and fine details. Camera Raw is discussed throughout this book, but the bulk of the coverage lives in Chapter 9.

  • Layer management. Layers got a few upgrades, too. For example, you can now adjust the opacity and fill of multiple layers at once, nest layers into a deeper folder structure, save your favorite layer style settings as defaults from within the Layer Style dialog box, drag and drop files from your computer's desktop into another open Photoshop document, drag content from an open window onto another document tab, and so on. Other additions include a ghosted outline as you drag layer content using the Move tool (helpful when moving small items), visual feedback when you're dragging layer styles from one layer to another (you see a big, partially transparent fx as you drag), a new option that lets you control whether or not the word "copy" is added to layers' names when you duplicate them, the ability to create a layer mask from transparency, and a new Paste Special menu that lets you do all kinds of neat pasting tricks (Pasting into a Selection). Whew!

  • CS Review. This new online subscription service lets folks share and post their projects on the Web so clients and/or colleagues can give them feedback. It works with several Adobe Creative Suite programs including Photoshop, In-Design, Illustrator, and Premiere.

There are also a few features that you'll only find in Photoshop CS5 Extended:

  • Repoussé. This new option (pronounced "Rep-poose-ay") lets you easily create 3-D versions of a variety of 2-D items such as text, paths, layer masks, and selections. It creates a 3D layer that you can use with Photoshop's full arsenal of 3-D tools.

  • Enhanced 3-D editing. Adobe has added even more features to its 3-D resume, such as the new Ground Plane Shadow Catcher, giving you an easy way to generate a realistic shadow cast on the ground (on, in this case, mesh) beneath a 3-D object. CS5 also sports faster 3-D Ray Tracer rendering (you can think of Ray-Tracing as tracing the path of light rays reflected off an object and back to the camera for a more photorealistic look), which lets you render a selection, pause and resume rendering, and change render quality. They also added a slew of new materials, light sources, and overlays, the ability to change 3-D depth of field, new 3-D preferences, and more.

There are also tons of little changes in Photoshop CS5, too, that are the direct result of Adobe's customer feedback initiative called Just Do It (JDI). For example, Photoshop now automatically saves 16-bit JPEGs as 8-bit (see Setting Size and Resolution for more about image bit depth); Adobe added a Straighten option to the Ruler tool (finally!); the Crop tool has a rule-of-thirds grid overlay; the Save dialog box includes an "apply to all" checkbox; there's a preference that lets you turn off gestures on laptop trackpads; the Shadows/Highlight adjustment is set to 35% from the factory instead of 50%—the list goes on and on. The activation process (Appendix A, online) also got simpler, as the program now automatically gets registered and activated when you install it.

With the good comes a little bad: To accommodate the new programming code that allows for 64-bit processing on the Mac, some plug-ins and filters now only work in 32-bit mode. Thankfully, it's easy to switch between the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the program (About This Book tells you how), so your favorite add-ons will still work (and rest assured those companies are hard at work updating them for 64-bit mode!).

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