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An Introduction To Photoshop CS4 - Photoshop CS4 Feature Guide
by Colin Smith, from the free PDF CS4 SuperGuide.
Download your free 70 page CS4 SuperGuide for lots more tips and tutorials for Photoshop CS4, Illustrator CS4, Dreameaver CS4, plus much more. Colin also offers some free videos.
Introduction To Photoshop CS4
When you launch Photoshop CS4 for the very first time, something is totally in your face. Yes, it sports a brand new interface. Over at Adobe, they have decided it’s time for Photoshop to be easier to use and make the tools you need within reach.
The windows version is now running in 64 bit mode (allows access to more then 3Gig RAM). The Mac version is still in 32 bit. The reason it’s not 64 on Mac? At the last moment Apple pulled Carbon 64 support. It would require a complete rebuild in Cocoa for Mac to be in 64 bit which according to my sources Adobe is working on for the future.
Don’t be alarmed by this, there are not that many users that are working on images so large they need more than 3 gigs of ram anyway. Both Mac and Windows versions are making use of the video cards’ GPU, this takes some of the strain of the CPU and makes for really speedy graphics and more, while freeing up the CPU to work on other tasks.
The new view features are really great. Be warned that if you don’t have a video card with GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) you won’t have access to them. An easy way to tell is to look at the lower right corner of your document. If you see a drop shadow, you are good to go otherwise you are almost out of luck.
Yes, there is hope, you can get a video card and add it to your machine. The best brand I can recommend are NVIDIA, they make cards that start out very cheap, all the way up to the high end cards that cost a few thousand dollars, for those who have a lot of heavy lifting to do. If you skimped and got integrated video, you won’t have GPU. You can add a card event to a machine with integrated graphics; this is the cheapest way to get speed improvements from your machine. See the article on GPU later in this guide.
Go to Preferences and choose Performance. You will see an option to use Open GL. Turn it on to enable the new features, if it’s grayed out, then you don’t have a supported GPU. If you have more than 256 MB of Vram (Video Ram) you can take advantage of an accelerator called blitpipe.
The first thing you’ll notice is the way documents are viewed. You no longer have to zoom into 25%, 50% etc to get an accurate view. Everything looks great at any magnification; this is a long awaited improvement. As you zoom in or out, you will see this nice animation as the document zooms, this prevents you getting lost in you document.
When you zoom in, give the document a little nudge and release your button, notice it glides a little bit, just like “throwing” the document. This is called “flick pan”. If you don’t like this behavior, you can turn it off in prefs. (See the website for a video on the GPU features as you can’t experience these with still images).
Once you are zoomed in past 500% you will see a little grid that separates the pixels. This helps achieve pixel accurate editing. You can also zoom into 3200%.
Birds eye view
When you are zoomed into the image and want to move around, press and hold the H key. Click with your mouse and you will zoom out. Reposition the viewing rectangle and it will zoom back in to the new location. This is a super fast way to get around your document. It’s called Birds Eye view and is amazing fast.
The document views are very fast and responsive. This is so much better than waiting as your document is redrawn line by line! This is especially good for large images and panoramas, since only the viewing information needed is loaded into the video ram.
Another GPU improvement is the rotating canvas. Hold the R key and drag. You will see a compass and the whole canvas rotates for your convenience. This is useful for freehand painters using graphics tablets.
The rotated canvas enables you to draw with the natural arc of your hand, just like you would spin a piece of paper around as you’re drawing on it. The rotation doesn’t affect the filters or anything, its not changing pixels; it’s only for convenience. For example if your page was rotated 30 degrees and you add a 90 degree motion blur, it would be 90 degrees in reference to the page.
I think by now you’re starting to see the improvements that GPU processing in CS4 gives you. On top of that we get a new brush engine, which is faster and smoother, especially when working with a graphics tablet. You will also notice a new brush preview, and wait for it, a new way to resize brushes by dragging in the doc. On the Mac hold down Control+Alt (Windows Alt+Right click) click and drag and you will see the brush tip change size. Drag to the left or right to change the size. Choose Control+Alt+Cmd (Ctrl + Shift on Windows) to change the softness.
32bit tone-mapping in HDR
Tonemapping in HDR also gets a boost from the GPU and makes for smooth and speedy adjustments in the exposure adjustment. Sadly, there are no other improvements with HDR tone mapping. You also get speed improvements with video playback and 3D features using GPU.
On the Mac there is an optional new application window. This enables users to float the entire application. This now allows users to drag the entire Photoshop application to a second monitor or to use the program without the desktop showing through.
Borrowed from apps such as Flash, Photoshop now has tabbed document windows. This allows you to manage your working space without document windows spread everywhere. There are options in the new Application Bar which allow you to tile the windows in different ways, or to float them just like in previous versions of Photoshop.
Palettes are now called panels across the suite, not just in Photoshop. You’ll see some inspiration from Lightroom in this release. All the panels have been redesigned and there is the addition of a couple of new ones; Adjustments and Masks panels. Don’t worry though; most of the panel behavior is the same as CS3.
Have a look at some of Colin's fine training videos, and when purchasing any video training, make sure to use our special code PSSupport708 for an instant 10% discount.
See our Photoshop CS4 Resource Center for more Free Photoshop CS4 Tutorials, the Free Photoshop CS4 Trial Download, and the Latest Photoshop CS4 News.
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See our Photoshop CS5 Resource Center for Free Photoshop CS5 Tutorials, and the Free Photoshop CS5 Trial Download. See our Photoshop CS4 Resource Center for Free Photoshop CS4 Tutorials.
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Skin Retouching Tips In Photoshop CS4
Transforming Smart Objects In Photoshop CS4
Find more Photoshop CS4 tutorials on our Photoshop CS4 Tutorials Page.
Read 2 free sample chapters from the Adobe Photoshop CS3 version:
Adjusting Exposure in Adobe Camera Raw CS3
Photoshop CS3 Tutorial High Dynamic Range
Find More Adobe Photoshop Books at Amazon.com
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The Photoshop Blog offers the latest Photoshop and Digital Photography news and software updates, tips and tutorials, and random thoughts from graphic artist, digital photographer and Photoshop expert Jennifer Apple. Also includes Photoshop CS3 news!