April 25, 2010

Photoshop CS5: What’s in it for designers?

Photoshop CS5 obviously packs a wealth of big-ticket features, especially for photographers. It might be harder to see what all has been improved for designers. Here are ten enhancements I think everyone–but especially those working with lots of layers and/or designing Web/screen output–will like.

  • Multi-layer opacity/fill adjustment: Select multiple layers & adjust their opacity and/or fill simultaneously.
  • Mini Bridge: “MB” is a pocket-sized version of Bridge that runs as a panel inside Photoshop (and InDesign), making it easy to navigate & browse files without leaving PS. This feature really deserves its own coverage here & will get it soon.
  • Drag and drop of files: You can now drag one or more files onto a Photoshop document to place them as layers. This is especially useful when dragging in files from Mini Bridge, letting MB function as a sort of library panel. I recently had to lay out dozens of UI widget screenshots, each stored as a separate file, and I found this feature a godsend.
  • “Sticky” layer styles: See previous entry.
  • Paste in Place command: See previous entry.
  • Copy Color’s Hex Code command. See previous entry.
  • Deeper layer nesting (up to 10 deep): Sort of self-explanatory. It works just as you’d expect, though I’d shy away from using the feature if you’re expecting to send layered files to older versions of PS or older PSD-reading apps as they won’t be able to read the deeply nested data.
  • Animated GIF import: See previous entry.
  • Optionally omit “Copy” on duplicated layers: See previous entry.
  • Repoussé (3D extrusion & inflation): This Photoshop Extended feature also really deserves its own coverage here, so look for that soon.

Bonus item: If you need to conduct design reviews with clients and/or colleagues, I think you’ll find the free CS Review service built into Photoshop and other CS5 apps compelling. More on that one, too, soon.

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