FOTD 18: Fireworks 8 – All the Small Things

Fireworks 8 has a lot of small tweaks, changes and updates that to me, aren’t necessarily big enough for a dedicated feature – so for today’s FOTD I wanted to cover a bunch of small tweaks that collectively make for a much, much more flexible imaging tool. There’s a lot to cover (and this post won’t even get close to covering them all), so let’s get started!


Layer ImprovementsFirst, in Fireworks 8 you can lock objects individually within the Layers panel- unlike Fireworks MX 2004 and earlier, which only supported locking by layer (including all objects within that layer).Secondly, Text layers are now automatically named with the text that you’ve placed, making it easier to differentiate between multiple text layers (and of course you can rename them at will to even more relevant titles). The combination of these two makes for a much more intuitive Layer panel, if you ask me. ;-)Blend modes26 new Blend modes were added in Fireworks 8 (!!), so along with your old favorites you’ve now got these options for blending from both the Object Property Inspector as well as the ‘Blend’ drop-down menu in the Layers panel (and where these correspond 1:1 with Photoshop’s blend modes, they are maintained correctly both when exporting a PSD from Fireworks as well as when importing a PSD from Photoshop):

  1. Average
    This mode is commutative (base and blend color can be swapped). It returns the same result, when opacity is set to 50%.
  2. Negation
    This blend mode is the “opposite” of difference mode. Note that it is NOT difference mode inverted, because black and white return the same result, but colors between become brighter instead of darker. This mode can be used to invert parts of the base image, but NOT to compare two images.
  3. Exclusion
    This blend mode approximates Photoshop’s Exclusion blend mode, and creates an effect similar to but lower in contrast than the Difference mode. Blending with white inverts the base color values. Blending with black produces no change.
  4. Hard Light
    This blend mode multiplies or screens the colors, depending on the blend color. The effect is similar to shining a harsh spotlight on the image.
  5. Soft Light
    This blend mode approximates Photoshop’s Soft Light blend mode and either darkens or lightens the colors, depending on the blend color. The effect is similar to shining a diffused spotlight on the image.
  6. Fuzzy Light
    This mode is very similar to the Photoshop soft light mode, for dark blend colors it is identical, for bright ones it does not share the disadvantage of the Photoshop soft light mode.
  7. Color Dodge
    This blend mode approximates Photoshop’s Color Dodge blend mode, and looks at the color information in each channel- brightening the base color to reflect the blend color by decreasing the contrast. Blending with black produces no change.
  8. Color Burn
    This blend mode approximates Photoshop’s Color Burn blend mode and looks at the color information in each channel- darkening the base color to reflect the blend color by increasing the contrast. Blending with white produces no change.
  9. Inverse Color Dodge
    This blend mode is more or less same as color dodge mode, but base color and blend color are swapped.
  10. Inverse Color Burn
    This blend mode is more or less same as color burn mode, but base color and blend color are swapped.
  11. Soft Dodge
    This blend mode is a combination of both the Color Dodge and Inverse Color Burn mode, but much smoother than both. The base image is darkened slightly, with very bright blend colors “dodged” in .
  12. Soft Burn
    This blend mode is a combination of Color Burn and Inverse Color Dodge modes, but much smoother than both. The base image is lightened a wee bit, with very dark blend colors “burned” in.
  13. Reflect
    This blend mode is useful when adding shining objects or light areas into your images. The formula is very similar to a color dodge, but the result is less bright (in most cases), looking a bit like Soft Light.
  14. Glow
    This blend mode is a ‘harsher’ variation of Reflect mode (base and blend color are swapped). The result appears a bit more like the Hard Light blend mode.
  15. Freeze
    The Freeze blend mode is yet another variation of the Reflect mode (base and blend color are inverted, and the result is inverted again).
  16. Heat
    Another variant of the Reflect mode, similar to Freeze mode but with the base and blend colors swapped.
  17. Additive
    The Additive blend mode looks at the color information in each channel, and adds the base color to the blend color.
  18. Subtractive
    The Subtractive mode also looks at the color information in each channel, subtracting the base color from the blend color.
  19. Subtract
    Forgive me, but I didn’t have time before posting to really dig into the difference between Subtract and Subtractive. Sorry! I’ll repost more detailed info shortly on this.
  20. Interpolation
    This blend mode somewhat combines both the Multiply and Screen modes (and appears similar for very dark or bright colors).
  21. Stamp
    This blend mode is similar to Average mode, and is particularly useful when applying relief or “bump” textures to images. Gray blend colors do not change the background, brighter or darker colors make the background either brighter or darker. The result can become very extreme, so this mode works best with mid-range colors.
  22. XOR
    Both the base and blend color are combined using a binary XOR operation. The result looks very strange if used on normal images (like photos). Much like Difference, Exclusion and Negation modes, the XOR mode can be used to invert parts of the base image, and to compare two images (resulting in black pixels where they are equal). While XOR mode can be compared to exclusion, a logical AND mode could be compared to multiply, and a logical OR could be compared to screen mode. Don’t sweat the math, though- you’ll really want to play with this in practice once you get your hands on Fireworks 8. ;-)
  23. Red
    As opposed to the modes above, the Red, Green and Blue blend modes don’t work on all channels of both images- but instead take the appropriate channel from the blend image, and the other channels are taken from the base image.
  24. Green
    As opposed to the modes above, the Red, Green and Blue blend modes don’t work on all channels of both images- but instead take the appropriate channel from the blend image, and the other channels are taken from the base image.
  25. Blue
    As opposed to the modes above, the Red, Green and Blue blend modes don’t work on all channels of both images- but instead take the appropriate channel from the blend image, and the other channels are taken from the base image.
  26. Overlay
    Overlay blend mode multiplies or screens the colors, depending on the base color. Patterns or colors overlay existing pixels, while preserving the highlights and shadows of the base color. The base color is not replaced- but is mixed with the blend color to reflect the relative lightness or darkness of the original color.

(much thanks to the eng/QA teams for documenting these well!)‘Live’ Marquee settingsSo you’ve got a complex selection marquee active, and you realize that your feathering settings aren’t just right. Or the tolerance of the magic wand tool isn’t quite what you wanted. In Fireworks MX 2004 and earlier, you had to drop and reselect the region after making settings changes to marquee/selection tools, but in Fireworks 8 you can change these on the fly without losing your selection. Make sure to check the ‘Live Marquee’ checkbox in the PI for your selection tool to turn this new feature on.Save and Export – Smarter Default FoldersWhen you’re saving libraries/styles/image files/etc., you won’t have to worry about re-navigating to where you last saved to- Fireworks got a brain here in v8, and will remember the last path you saved to, even after restarting- a serious productivity boost if you’re working with a lot of images or assets.Undo in Preview ModeYep- you heard right- you can revert prior changes in the Preview pane, so make those relative changes with wanton abandon and just hit Control/Command-Z to revert ‘em one by one. Very handy for when you’re just visually previewing a bunch of different compression/format options and need to step back- save your brainpower for more important tasks.FontsFireworks now remembers the most recent fonts you’ve used, and displays them at the top of the font lists so you don’t have to scroll endlessly (my experience, having a zillion-plus fonts installed on my machines) to get back down to Zapf Dingbats, should you use it a lot (yikes).Save Multiple SelectionsAs opposed to prior versions of Fireworks that would only allow one marquee selection to be saved per PNG file, you can now save, restore, and name/rename multiple marquee selections within your PNG source files. Very cool!If you’ve read this far, you’re probably getting the picture I came to after diving into Fireworks 8 for the first time a few months ago- although at first glance the ‘gee whiz’ features seem more evolutionary than revolutionary, the amount of small, reasonably-unearthed workflow and productivity enhancements in v8 – in my opinion – are worth a heck of a lot more collectively than the sum of their parts.Hope you enjoy all these little enhancements as well- and I’ll catch you again tomorrow for FOTD 19!