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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

A Review of Photoshop CS6 Beta

The original
For a fun, April Fools Day joke, I decided to put my Florida Gator fan friends into FSU gear. You can see the original picture of them at The Swamp (where the Gators play) all decked out in UF blue and orange. Their hated rivals are the red clad Seminoles of Florida State University.

Edited with Paint.NET
My first go at this was in the free Paint.NET software. I copied the bottom layer and then deleted everything that wasn't a shirt or a hat. Then I separated each article of clothing into its own layer. I changed the colors by using the hue, saturation and lightness adjustments. It worked well for the polo shirt and the visor, but, as you can see, it introduced some artifacts into the tshirt. The difference between the red and the blue was too much and my clone-tool application didn't do enough to fix the problems. The result was an obvious edit that just doesn't look very good. I'm happy with the visor and polo from Paint.NET, but the tshirt just didn't turn out very well.

Edited with Photoshop CS6
So, I downloaded the Photoshop CS6 Beta, which is a free download and will be free to use until they come out with the retail version later in the year. The first thing I noticed was that the selection process was much faster. The smart select tools automatically found the edges of the shirts and hat, though it had trouble differentiating the hair and the visor. I could quickly cut out the clothes and get to work.

Instead of using the hue tools to change the color, I used the color change tool in Photoshop. I was able to select the source color and the destination color, then I just painted over the shirts and the colors changed to the relative tone. That resulted in shades that were much more similar between the shirts, but it also removed the artifacts on the tshirt, which was good.

The content aware fill and spot-healing brushes were invaluable in Photoshop, allowing me to fade in the logo on the polo and remove stray hairs on the tshirt. Overall the tools and options available in Photoshop made the process of editing the picture go much more quickly than with Paint.NET. I'm estimating that it took me 1/4 the time to complete the job in Photoshop versus Paint.NET.

My biggest gripe against Photoshop is that they use a unique control scheme. Where most other programs use a "Ctrl+" scheme to enable different options, Photoshop uses "Alt+" for no apparent reason. More than that, the single level of Undo really annoyed me. The "Ctrl-Z" for Undo is still available in Photoshop, but if you want to step back further than one action in the history you have to press "Ctrl-Shift-Z" which is unnatural and awkward. I've been trained to use the keyboard shortcuts of "Ctrl-Z" and "Ctrl-Y" for Undo and Redo in virtually every other program on every computer platform. There's no reason why Photoshop needed to change things (other than Adobe's need to be different for the sake of being different).

Overall, Photoshop has proven to be a powerful tool that can quickly tackle any editing task, but you'll have to learn the unique and arbitrary control scheme of Adobe to unlock the power of the software.

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