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Adobe CS5 Web Premium Part One: Illustrator and Photoshop

Our three-part review kicks off with two elder statesmen

The last bit of awesome to discuss is the inclusion of Bristle Brushes, which mimic real-world brush effects in scalable vector form. Anyone who remembers Fractal Design Expression from back in the day will ask what took so long, but it's here now. When you create a new brush you can choose from a host of Bristle Brushes (fig. 8), each with various options. In this case, pictures tell a better story, so we'll let Figure 9 finish us off here.

Figure 8

Figure 9




And three in the "worth mentioning" category

While we're done with what I deem to be awesome, there are still several noteworthy features and enhancements to go over. Time for a few quick hits:

Artboard improvements. Illustrator CS5 sports a few tweaks in the artboard area, including a command to paste an object into all artboards, a new artboard panel (fig. 10), and, for the neat freaks amongst us, the ability to arrange artboards into grids.

Figure 10

Draw inside and behind objects. Two new drawing modes let you effectively use objects as masks to create artwork inside (fig. 11) or behind other objects. Very handy.

Figure 11

Pixel-perfect alignment. The new Align to Pixel Grid command in the Transform panel ensures that your supposedly crisp and clean vectors don't suffer from blurry strokes or edges (fig. 12).

Figure 12

The Bottom Line

For me, Illustrator has been kind of invisible the last few versions, but CS5 finally gets a handful of useful new features worth crowing about. I particularly love the variable width strokes and Shape Builder tool, and have already found both to be invaluable additions to my daily workflow. There's certainly enough new and noteworthy in Illustrator CS5 to warrant upgrading, especially so if you happen to be using CS3, a proclamation which will fast become a running theme around here. As a new purchase, Illustrator remains a solid, if pricey, choice in the world of vector design, and as a contributor to the Web Premium suite, it's a definite positive. Let's move on to the program with the big anniversary, shall we?

Photoshop CS5: quite mature, but far from senile

Had it not been for the march of technology, bringing with it things like Macs with Intel processors, 64-bit operating systems, and gobs and gobs of RAM as a given, it's entirely possible for someone in interactive design to be quite productive with a half-decade old (or older) version of Photoshop. Personally, if I absolutely had to, I probably could have gotten away with using Photoshop CS (8.0 for the version number sticklers out there) all this time, but I digress. The point here is that Photoshop, as one might expect to be the case in a 20-year-old piece of software, is a mature product at this point -- and that's putting it mildly. In any case, with each new version comes more bolt-on functionality, refining of existing features, and performance tweaks where possible, and the CS5 version of Photoshop (version 12.0, again for the sticklers) is no exception. However, in general there is a pretty nice smattering of new and improved all around in CS5, but whether you find any to be worth the cost of upgrading is, of course, up to you.


How does it look and how does it run are two obvious questions any long-time Photoshop user might have about a new version, and while there's not huge news to report on the first, there's plenty to say about the second. To the "how does it look" question, the answer is "exactly the same as CS4" (fig. 13). The big interface overhaul went through last time, so while there are no radical look and feel changes to argue about, there are still a few nips and tucks made to established canon here and there.

Figure 13: Other than the workspace strip and some tweaked toolbar icons, CS5 and CS4 could be twins.

I'm especially fond of the selection ring (fig. 14), which surrounds the color picker tool with a, shall we say, obvious visual cue to aid in color selection. Much better than shifting your eyes down to the chips in the main toolbar.

Figure 14

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  • Adobe CS5 Web Premium Part One: Illustrator and Photoshop by DMN Editorial at May 05, 2010 2:22 pm gmt

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