CS6 Review Session – Episode 3

Over the past 2 episodes of the Adobe Creative Suite CS6 review sessions, we looked at what’s new in the overall CS6 package as well as a couple of new features and enhancements in Photoshop CS6. In today’s episode, we will go one step further and checkout some of the not so obvious upgrades and enhancements that Photoshop CS6 has to offer. Today I am going to focus on a couple of tools that most of us use on a daily basis.

Crop Tool:

Everyone is pretty familiar with the CS5 crop tool. However the new CS6 crop tool is different. In CS6 when you click on the crop tool icon, what you notice is that the crop tool creates anchors around the image and at the corners. Now you can easily use these anchors and drag to select the area you want to crop in your image. What many don’t notice is that this new crop tool automatically centers the crop section as you drag while creating your selection. Another feature is that while you are making your selection, it also gives you the exact dimension of the crop selection. Another neat feature is the crop presets that are available. Using them you can easily crop images while maintaining the original aspect ratio or even choose to crop it to a whole new set of dimensions based on a preset. Apart from that, you can create your own presets too. For those who find the whole new crop tool too complicated, you can easily jump back to the old CS5 crop tool but just changing the settings for it.

I score the crop tool a 5/5 for:

  • Auto centering the cropped area.
  • Adding presets.
  • Incorporating straightening an image in the crop tool
  • Additional setting like crop shield and delete pixels options

Dealing with Layers:

I did cover the topic of layers in episode 2, but I wanted to get inside it just a bit more. Managing layers is never an easy task. Once you hit a large number of layers, organizing and renaming them is a real headache. However with the new CS6 layer options and features it’s made much easier. CS6 allows you search your layers or rather filter them based on a particular field. You will notice the new icons on the top of the layer panel that allows you to filter the layers in order to search the layers based on pixel layer, adjustment layer, text layer and shape layer. So incase you are looking out for that particular shape in the layer stack, all you have to do is filter them out based on text layers and your search is made much easier. Similarly you can also locate your pixel and shape layers. Another awesome feature is where it allows you to search the layer by name, mode, attribute or color. So incase you are one of those guys who rename every single layer, you can easily search your layer using this feature. Similarly color coding your layers is helpful as CS6 also allows you to search the layers based on color.

I score the new layer features a 6/5 for:

  • Firstly making layer management a piece of cake.
  • Precise and helpful filters for layers.
  • Preset search and layer name search options.
  • Multiple layer operations.

 

Preset Transfers:

This is again something I spoke of earlier but never got into much detail. Migrating from one version to another is always a matter of concern if you work with a fixed layout and preset library. However CS6 allows you to migrate your Presets from the earlier versions of Photoshop. In order to do so, all you have to do is jump over to Edit > Presets > Migrate Presets. Once you locate the preset you want, simply save it in any folder you wish and then simply add this same preset via that folder. Then all that’s left is to simply hit the import preset button and you are done. Migrating presets is that simple with the new Photoshop CS6.

Now here’s a random thought for Adobe: “Could there be an auto migration feature that automatically imports your presets from the previous version during the set up and installation of CS6?”

 

Content Aware tools:

Photoshop CS6 has a couple of new content aware tools like the new content aware move and the content aware patch tool. Let us begin with the enhanced content aware patch tool. The patch tool is an old feature but integrating it with content aware is new. So now you can easily make a selection using the patch tool and replace it content aware! Once you have made your selection, all you have to do is simply drag the selection and let go once you feel the area is closely substituted with another patch from the surrounding image.

To understand the difference between the content aware patch tool and the content aware move tool. The content aware patch tool will simply replace the selected area with another desired section of the same image. As for the original pixels in the selection, they get deleted and replaced by the new ones. As for content aware move, what happens is the selection you make can easily be dragged and dropped elsewhere on the image. Photoshop blends the selection against the new background. Whereas the area that the selection is cut out from will automatically develop a new set of pixels that blend in based on the content aware feature.

I score the content aware tools a 5/5 for:

  • Making deletion of unwanted elements in an image so easy.
  • Allowing the user to add subtract elements in the image without having to bother about blending them in.

Brush Features:

Photoshop CS6 has a whole new set of brush features to offer. This is something that not many have noticed. In CS6 you can now easily change the angle of the brush. Always wanted to do that right? Well CS6 allows you to change the angle of the brush while using it. Simply head over to the brush setting and change the brush dynamics. Similarly you can also preview how the brush is actually being held while using it. Apart from that, it also allows you to space out the brush elements so that in just one click you can draw many objects without having spaced too closed and touching each other. The brush features aren’t too simple to understand at first glance, but play around with them for a while and its pretty simple after that.

I score the content aware tools a 6/5.

 

Paragraphs and Characters:

For those who work with a lot of text and layout in Photoshop itself, this is a pretty neat feature. Imagine you have separate text layers and want to change the text size for each of those layers. In the old version you have to individually change each layer. However in CS6  you can easily change all those layers in just one click. Working with paragraph and style options makes work much more easier. You can also save your styles and use them in future.

That’s all for today’s episode of Photoshop CS6. Incase you missed the previous 2 episodes I have the links down there for you. The next episode of this session will be somewhat more interesting and interactive. I plan to do an online quiz which you can take and test you knowledge while at the same time learn about the new features in Photoshop CS6. Do make sure you check this blog out for future episodes!

Previous Episodes :

  • Episode 1 : What’s new in CS6
  • Episode 2 : What’s new in Photoshop & Illustrator CS6 Part 1
  • Episode 3 : What’s new in Photoshop CS6 Part 2
  • Episode 4 : How well do you know Photoshop CS6 ? (Quiz) – Upcoming Oct/Nov

CS6 Review Session – Episode 2

It’s been more than a month since I started using Photoshop CS6. So far I have nothing to complain about, in fact my experience working with it has been great. Migrating from CS5.5 to CS6 was a little challenge. New workspace, new tools and a whole new set of visual elements to get used to. This episode I aim at covering at couple of new features in Photoshop and Illustrator CS6. In the following episode (3) we will look at some of the more hidden and advanced features these softwares have to offer. To begin this session, we will look at the more basic and primary changes Adobe has incorporated in the new CS6 softwares. What’s new with Photoshop CS6 – Part 1. Firstly what everyone has probably noticed is the new look they gave Photoshop. Apart from the new icon and splash screen design, I am talking about the new tools and new variable backgrounds. The new features start right with the installation of CS6.

  • Importing from CS5 to CS6
  • The new interface in CS6
  • Manage your layers more efficiently
  • Background Save + Auto Recovery
  • Content Aware

1. Import your presets from CS5 to CS6

Firstly the most important aspect the Adobe incorporated is importing your CS5 workspace and presets to CS6. Photoshop CS6 allows you to import your presets and workspace settings easily without any hassle. It’s so much better than having to go back and import each of those presets and actions. So 5 points to Photoshop CS6 for making migration so simple and effective. If anyone wondering how to get around this, simply go to Edit > Presets > Preset Manager

2. The new interface in CS6:  Background UI

The new interface in Photoshop CS6 allows you change the workspace background color. It allows the user to select from 4 options ranging from Dark grey to medium dark, medium light and light grey. Based on your preference, with a single click you can change your workspace to give it a more open and wide or more compact and sophisticated look. My question here – “Adobe what the hell took you guys so long! This is bloody brilliant!” Personally I work with the darkest grey option and simply love it. Especially because it helps me design a little more comfortably. My white canvas now stands out more distinctly than it used to in CS5. To check this new feature simply head over to Edit > Preferences > General > Interface … You can easily customize your workspace settings there. Since you are there, I would suggest drop by at the other setting options too. For example head over to performance and adjust your RAM settings to your preference. Similarly jump to File handling and enable background save option etc. Couple of tweaks and adjustments and you can have Photoshop run like butter on a hot pan. I’m serious. I manage to run CS6 on my 2.5 GB workstation smoothly after I adjusted the RAM settings and scratch disk options. Try it, experiment and you’ll enjoy the experience!

  Tools & general UI: As for the general interface and tools I heard Adobe has pulled off a major makeover here! Apparently it includes 1,800 new icons and 250 new cursors. This was done in order to establish a common identity with the same tools in the other softwares.   Smart move I say. I never really counted any of those icons but I bet they have. You can easily guess that the interface has undergone some major changes and upgrades. They have pimped so many tool icons, I don’t even know where to start from. But at the end of the day, the new UI and icons together offer a complete new feel and experience while working with Photoshop. So again here I give Adobe a 4/5 for UI changes. Minus 1 because a lot of amateur users claim they find the new look too scary and complicated. Personally I prefer calling them blind. But honestly the new interface kind of throws you off a bit while you start. It takes a while to settle in and adjust. However I believe professionals use this and I’m happy this software is changing in this direction. So sorry amateur users, if you can’t manage the new interface, you have to learn. Just a heads up – Head over and change the background UI color to the last option. It may resemble home for you. Adobe I’m throwing in a few brownie points here just to cover up the minus 1. Because I personally love this new feature.  

3. Manage your layers more efficiently

Managing layers was not much of an issue. But hey I don’t mind if they made it simpler! And that’s exactly what Adobe has done! They have improved managing and organizing layers in CS6. That one thing we all dreaded was searching through the unnamed stack of 30 plus layers. Imagine then trying to organize and name them. Well Adobe here is where I give you the standing ovation! Filtering your layers by just one click! Whoa ! What were your engineers smoking? This is simply brilliant. Now if you look at the layers panel you have an option at the top that allows you to filter and view similar layers based on kind, name, effect, mode, attribute, color! You can easily turn on and off the option with a sweet minimalistic switch over there! You can even segregate the layers based on pixels, adjustment, type, shape and type! It makes managing your layers so easy and comfortable. I mean what more could you ask for?  Adobe you get a 6/5 here for thinking out of the box. Kudos.

4. Background Save + Auto Recovery

Finally Adobe heard my prayers. I have cried several times, and I’m serious here. Worked for hours together before Photoshop crashed due to some reason and I never saved my work. I have lost my work a couple of times like this earlier! Now why would Photoshop not have an auto save seriously?  I once asked my friend why on earth does Photoshop not have an auto save? He replied because real men hit CTRL+S every few seconds. True that. I made it a habit eventually! But with the new CS6 you don’t need to do that. It provides and auto recovery and background save option.  Simply head over to Edit > Preferences > File Handling  and you will find both these options there. For those lucky folks who have never lost any of their work in this manner and don’t really get the point of auto save and recovery. Here is an example. Imagine you were working in Photoshop on a project and haven’t yet saved it. Now say for instance your annoying niece decides to press a few button while you take that pee break. When you return, your niece has successfully managed to open up 5 or 6 applications and chocked you PC. As in most cases, its hung and you need to restart. But what the hell! I haven’t saved my Ps work file. Chill bro, just hit the restart button like a man. Photoshop background save and auto recovery will work its magic on the next startup. You will find your file saved for you and can resume work.  Adobe I give you another 6/5 here. No more tears. Thank you.

5. Content Aware

  Whenever I wanted to show off my skills using Photoshop, the first thing I would do is use the content aware fill to magically replace a tree in the background or remove a part of a image and blend the empty space with the surrounding. So for those of you who already know how the content aware fill works, here is content aware move! Dude this new feature is just insane. Imagine with this feature you can easily select a part of the image and place it somewhere else without creating additional layers! It’s really hard to explain this tool improvement. Just watch these videos to understand more on this awesome tool! Adobe you get a 5/5 for this!

For more new features and tools of Photoshop CS6, do tune in for Episode 3 where I dig deeper into what’s new with Photoshop CS6 Part -2 !

What’s new with Illustrator CS6 – Part 1

Now when it comes to illustrator again there are a couple of things that overlap with Photoshop. New interface and new tool icons along with the variable background. Besides those we have a lot of new changes and features in Illustrator CS6 as well.

  • Mercury Performance Engine
  • Pattern Creation feature
  • Image Trace options
  • Improvements in type options

 1. Mercury Performance Engine 

This is not something that you see as soon as you start Illustrator up. But this is a rather more technical enhancement from Adobe. To put it in the simplest terms,  with the new Mercury performance engine you can utilize all of your RAM to help open, work and save large files in Illustrator. This new feature on CS6 allows the user to manage complex effects and designs with large files in Illustrator CS6. It works for 64 bit systems and is a brilliant feature that provides stability and capability to handle complex and large files in Illustrator CS6.

 2. Pattern Creation feature

This is an interesting new feature in Illustrator. The new pattern creation feature allows you to create a vector pattern and repeat it without any hassle in Illustrator. Creating a tiled pattern and editing it is very easy. Just head over to  Object>Pattern>Make. The object now repeats on the art board. So simple. Just imagine the stuff you could do with vector patterns !  You can control the pattern in the pattern options. Also it updates the pattern as you work on the object. Pretty neat and handy I say ! Great job Adobe !


 3. Image Trace Options

Bye bye Live trace and hello Image trace. This is a new feature that replaces the old live trace option in CS6. I tried the new image trace and I think it works much better than the live trace. Along with that there a couple of new trace options that will come in handy. Few among the new ones are Shades of Grey and Silhouettes (Which is kind of just a rename but enhanced trace option)  Try them out and for sure you will find a difference !


 4. Improvements in type options

The new improved tool options let’s you play around a little more. Users can now use the arrow keys to change fonts in context for selected text. Similarly Glyphs for caps, superscripts and much more can be adjusted and modified from the Character panel in Illustrator CS6. Obviously these features become more relevant as you start using CS6. You can adjust your characters and text more easily in CS6. Just hit the Character option and the options should display. There you can adjust the base-line shift, kerning and rotation of the characters. All in one place for simplicity !

So that’s about it for this episode of the Creative Suite Review CS6. Hope you enjoyed it and tune in for the next episode where we dig in deeper into Photoshop and Illustrator Part 2. If you feel there are a couple of basic and new features that should be highlighted, just drop a comment and I will see to it !

UPCOMING SCHEDULE 

Episode 3:     25 September 2012

  • 1. Whats new in Adobe Photoshop CS6 Part -2
  • 2. Whats new in Adobe Illustrator CS6 Part-2

 

Design in Charity

Does design play a role in  charity?  

Why would you need to consider design if you plan to bring a change, make an impact. reach out? The idea is simple. The people (target) whom you plan to help, need you (initiator). But the people(source) whom you are looking at for help, don’t really know about you or your plan. Now that’s where, along with long-term planning and organisational structuring  you need design. Yes, you may have the best concept or the plan that can change the world. But if it doesn’t connect with the people, you are going no where. This something universal that applies to any idea. Now that’s where you want design. Design is going to connect the target with the source. And to make it happen is the initiator’s job. You need to visually connect your audience to its target. If you portray the correct message via the most appropriate visuals, I am sure you can establish a connection. Helping a nonprofit is a heart warming feeling that designers would be glad to fulfill! Target the source with simple colors, fonts, graphical elements, and navigation which will increase usability. remember keep your message short, hit the mark and keep it  simple. You don’t want them to get lost.

Where does Design come in ?

Right from the organisations or non profits logo, to its cause, to its website, everything needs a touch of design. It’s the visuals that often convey and convince. How many times have you donated via an online website? Probably never or maybe a couple of times. The idea is to convey the message, show them the real cause, tell them what they can do and keep them in the loop. Not an easy task, but yet it needs to be done.

I am currently interning with a non-profit youth organisation called Rock For A Cause  As their creative and production head I am responsible for all the print and web creatives. Since the past few months I have been busy working with a few  designers  and coders to revamp their current website. While at it, I discovered these beautiful non-profit websites that really hit the mark. These are brilliant examples of how to do, and what to do with a website.

Give Beyound.me

War Child.org

SlaveryFootprints.org

 

RiceBowls.org

 

Photoshop Ninja – Design / Photoshop Workshop in Mumbai

On February 18, 19 I will be conducting my first ever Photoshop Workshop in Mumbai. It is a 2 day workshop open to all college students at cost of Rs.100 (for both days). Really excited to do it.  To checkout more on the event go to Photoshop Ninja