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
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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

 

CS6 Review Session – Episode 1

Hello and welcome to the first episode of the Adobe Creative Suite 6 review sessions. On April 23rd 2012, Adobe made the big announcement of the upcoming CS6 upgrade. It’s been close to 4 months since then. While designers and tonnes of other user waited impatiently to get their hands on the new upgrade, many wondered what was the new upgrade and was it worth the buck ? I have migrated from CS5.5 to CS6 and I have one word for you – REMARKABLE. Adobe has really packed a punch in CS6. With some major upgrades and new tools, Adobe has rolled out a  fleet of digital tools that push the creative boundary even further within the digital and print loop.So the big question is should I move to CS6 ? Is the upgrade worth the price ? This is what the review session is aimed at. Episode by episode we will dive in deeper into a few selected softwares from the Adobe Creative Suite Master collection 6. We will run through everything good and bad about the CS6 softwares. Most importantly, anyone can follow these reviews. It’s not from a testing or technical point of view, rather from a user point of view. So buckle up and dig in.

What will you find in Episode one ? 

  • What CS6 has to offer compared to CS5 – Same tools new look ?
  • What are the technical requirements for CS6 – Should I worry ?
  • Cost and new softwares in CS6 – Value for money ?
  • Visual aspects of CS6 – Eh, why does CS6 look so different ?

 

This episode we run through the look and feel of CS6 leaving aside deep and major upgrades in tools and features. We analyze the new branding and visual appeal that Adobe has put into CS6. Along with that from the next episode  we will start  reviewing  new features in Adobe’s Photoshop CS6 and Illustrator CS6. So tune in and don’t miss on any.

1. What CS6 has to offer compared to CS5

As compared to CS5, Adobe CS6 Creative Suite Master Collection consist of  11 updated softwares and 2 new softwares. Most of the previous softwares have undergone some major changes, while a couple have had minor tweaks. We will also look into 2 new softwares that Adobe has bundled into the Creative Suite Master Collection CS6.

Softwares included in CS6 Master Collection :

  • Photoshop CS6 Extended (Updated)
  • Illustrator CS6 (Updated)
  • InDesign CS6 (Updated)
  • Acrobat X Pro
  • Flash Professional CS6 (Updated)
  • Flash Builder 4.6 Premium Edition
  • Dreamweaver CS6 (Updated)
  • Fireworks CS6 (Updated)
  • Adobe Premiere Pro CS6 (Updated)
  • After Effects CS6 (Updated)
  • Adobe Audition CS6 (Updated)
  • SpeedGrade CS6 (New)
  • Prelude CS6 (New)
  • Encore CS6
  • Bridge CS6
  • Media Encoder CS6

Here is a preview of the softwares included in the Creative Suite collection

So what the CS6 offers is 11 major updates and 2 brand new softwares – Speed Grade CS6 and Prelude CS6. To understand more of the CS6 upgrade checkout product page.

2. What are the technical requirements for CS6

A major question on everyone’s mind. Will the new upgrade survive on my existing system conifg and specs ? Well surprisingly the new CS6 does demand for a more advanced and strong configuration, but works relatively fine with the old chaps too. To get a complete list of the technical specification required checkout the adobe product tech spec page.

What’s my opinion on the system requirement for CS6. Don’t worry too much. If you are working on Windows, your major concern should be your RAM, Disk Space and Processor. Okay you can worry a little bit.

  • Processor : 64 Bit Required but  32 Bit also works. Pentium4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor with 64-bit support and Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Phenom II processor required for Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Encore;  Core i7 processor required for Adobe SpeedGrade CS6. In simple words, it works best with a 64 bit processor. 32 bit guys, don’t feel bad.
  • RAM: CS6 requires 8GB RAM to truly enjoy its full potential. However, you don’t need to break your piggy bank to change that RAM. 32 bit guys, it works fair enough with a 2 GB RAM. However Adobe suggest a 4 GB  RAM for 32 bit. For the hip 64 bit guys, 4 GB RAM is ok, but a 8GB RAM is awesome.
  • Disk Space: So how much disk space do you need ? To quote adobe – “14.5GB of available hard-disk space for installation; additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices). Additional disk space required for disk cache, preview files, and other working files (10GB recommended).” Yes the installation does take a lot of time, but its worth the wait.

I am currently running the Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection CS6 on my laptop which has an i3 Processor and 4 GB worth of RAM along with 500 GB disk Space. Works perfect and smoothly.

3. Cost and new softwares in CS6

So how does the new CS6 Master Collection cost ? The all new CS6 comes in at a whooping Rs. 1,76,436‌‌ for a complete fresh set. Where as upgrading will cost you  Rs.35,665‌‌  So go ahead try out the new CS6 softwares for a free 30 day trial or purchase it at –  Adobe Store  For student discounts look at – Purchase . Also note worthy is that the Adobe Creative Suite 6 Master collection integrates with creative cloud services and the digital publishing suite.  Moving on lets look at what CS6 had to offer in terms of completely new.

  • SpeedGrade CS6 : I had no clue what SpeedGrade was until I read this and played around with it for a while. To put it in simple terms, what Speed Grade basically does is – Provides powerful color grading capabilities in order to render high quality output for any device. It’s a little hard to really explain how complex and sophisticated it really is. To get a better understanding download the trial and checkout this feature guide – View Honestly this is something for only the big boys as of now. It’s pretty complex to get around with. But it has some really cutting edge features and enhancements that take it to a whole new level. It however has a tight requirement as compared to the other softwares :
  • Intel Core i7 processor with 64-bit support
  • Microsoft Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (64 bit)
  • 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)
  • 1GB of available hard-disk space for installation

Checkout these tutorial in SpeedGrade to get a larger picture of what it really has to offer : Tuts  &  Video Tuts

Prelude CS6: Another software I had no clue about. To be honest I really haven’t had the time to dig into Prelude as of yet, however the basic use of it is to streamline your production task.  For those impatient to find out more, jump over to the feature page. Maybe in a couple of future episodes I may just do a small review on it, after using it myself. Its basic requirements are :

  • Intel Core2 Duo or AMD Phenom II processor
  • Microsoft Window XP Professional with Service Pack 3 or Windows 7 with Service Pack 1
  • 4GB of RAM (8GB recommended)

4. Visual aspects of CS6

To begin with Adobe has given most of the softwares a major change in appearance not only in terms of new UI elements and buttons, but also a new set of interface backgrounds, splash screen and icon sets. Hell of a lot of visual changes !

Icons

To begin with Adobe has whipped a brand new set of  icons for the CS6 softwares. I you look closely each software icon color is derived from the color wheel and slotted into specific locations. Adobe clearly wanted to build a set of icons that stood out on a desktop with any kind of background or wall paper.  Personally I love the new icon colors. They make the desktop look more vibrant.

<image credit : View>

Splash Screen

Not many pay attention or bother about the splash screen. But I do. I really love how Adobe puts in so much effort in designing their crazy splash screens. For those who yet have no idea what I’m talking about. I am referring to the small box that appears when you open an Adobe software. Yes, that is called a Splash screen. Now Adobe has gone to great lengths with the design of the CS6 splash screens. I do like them but I think they over did it. Personally I loved the CS3 Box and CS5 Geometric splash screens. The new CS6 splash screens are a little to abstract for me. Here is a small preview of what the CS6 splash screens look like :

Adobe puts in a lot of effort into branding their products. To understand the full nature of their branding process, check out this interesting article on the Adobe Blog. On similar lines, Adobe has put in a lot of design and new changes in the looks of individual softwares. Right from mouse pointers to tools in the workspace, Adobe has gone a great length to give the CS6 collection a new look. As we review the individual softwares, we will have a quick glance at what these softwares have to offer in terms of visual and interface changes.

So that’ about it with Episode 1. We have had a quick over view of what the new CS6 has to offer and how far has Adobe gone to brand the new softwares. We have also had a quick overview of tech specs and the 2 new additions to the Master Collection.  Since this is the first episode I have kept it simple and brief. From Episode 2 we dive into individual softwares and see whats awesome and whats not so awesome. Do remember to tune into the next episode of the Creative Suite Review Sessions. Also feel free to drop any feedback, suggestion via a comment below.

You can also download this episode  :

Word (.docx)          PDF (.pdf)     

There is going to be a little break between this episode and the next set of episodes that follow in September. Do go through the upcoming schedule below and tune in for an interesting session with loads of resources to help you get started with CS6.

Upcoming Schedule

Episode 2 :    5 September 2012

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

Episode 3:     25 September 2012

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