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Software comes and software goes, but some releases make every Mac user sit up and pay attention. Nothing commands the attention of designers, photographers, and anyone else with an artistic bent like the release of Adobe’s next Creative Suite. We’ve been putting the beta versions of CS5 through their paces for a couple months now, and the results of our rigorous testing will be in your hands in next issue’s reviews. To whet your appetite, our reviewers put together a list of the most interesting, useful, and impressive new features in Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Premiere. They also dove into what’s new in the other key apps of CS5.
Check out the coolest new tools that Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Premiere add to your artistic toolbox.
1 PHOTOSHOP’S AUTOMATIC RETOUCHING
The new Content Aware Fill is akin to a fleet of intelligent retouching monkeys living behind the screen. To use it, first make a selection around something you want to remove from a complex background, and then choose the Content Aware Fill option in the Fill dialog. The selection is whisked away as the hole is filled in with a patchwork derived from surrounding areas. In the images to the right, we removed the tourist with Content Aware Fill by making a rough selection around him and simply pressing Command-Delete—no manual retouching was done. You can also invoke this mojo with a new Spot Healing Brush mode, which, when it works, is a sight to behold.
2 ILLUSTRATOR’S VARIABLE STROKE WIDTH
The four strokes you see in the screenshot are identical as far as the geometry of their curves. However, by using the new Width tool, we’ve adjusted thickness at various places along each path. The Width tool adds control points along a path, and by dragging the handles of these control points, you can quickly change a stroke’s appearance, making it skinnier or wider than the stroke’s original point size. You can add, reposition, and tweak multiple control points to endless effect; and by holding down Option, you can grab a single left or right anchor and make width adjustments to just one side (as seen in the screenshot).
3 SPAN HEADLINES ACROSS COLUMNS IN INDESIGN
Tired of creating separate text boxes for headlines? The Span Columns option lets you run display type across multiple columns and the gutters in between. It’s a paragraph-level text-formatting option, like specifying alignment. To use it, create a multicolumn text frame and then fill it with placeholder text. Select a paragraph and choose Span Columns from the Control panel menu. In the Span Columns dialog box, make sure Span Columns is selected in the Paragraph Layout menu, then choose an option from the Span Columns menu. The paragraph can flow across all columns of the text frame or across any number of columns. You also have the option to specify a Space Before Span and a Space After Span. The most efficient way to use the Span Columns feature is to include it as part of a paragraph style for headlines and other text elements that span multiple columns.
4 PREMIERE’S 64-BIT, GPU-ACCELERATED MERCURY PLAYBACK ENGINE
It might take you a few minutes to spit that all out of your mouth, but while you’re doing that, Premiere will be spitting out HD video in record time. The engine takes advantage of 64-bit technology to utilize all the available RAM in your computer, and it works hand in hand with Nvidia CUDA technology. Similar to Apple’s Grand Central, the Mercury Playback Engine takes advantage of today’s super-powerful GPUs. All that technology mumbo jumbo means you’ll be editing more and rendering less, even when you’re using one of those fancy new 4K cameras.
5 PLAY WITH PUPPETS IN PHOTOSHOP
The Puppet tool is an amazing distortion capability grafted over from After Effects, and it delivers totally controllable warping effects that have no counterpart in any other software. It’s easy to use, allowing you to quickly bend and reshape images by using “virtual pushpins” to both constrain and bend pictures in a precise and fluid fashion. For example, the arm in this screenshot can be instantly turned into a Stretch Armstrong toy—the South Park guys wanted this capability years ago. This tool really needs to be experienced to be completely appreciated, but trust us—it’s awesome.
6 AN END TO ILLUSTRATOR’S PATHFINDER MADNESS
Adobe has been well aware of the difficulties inherent in the Pathfinder panel. Whether you want to merge shapes or pull off more complex tricks, getting the desired results has required the “hit and mess” method. The new Shape Builder tool ends all that by providing an intuitive method for path welding and trimming. In the screenshot, the circles in the left column are separate objects, but by using the Shape Builder tool on the first two circles in the second column, we merged their paths and defined the new shape’s color with a Swatch Preview that shows up over the cursor (not shown). In the third column, we held down the Option key to subtract the path of the green circle from the conjoined twins above.
7 INDESIGN’S IMPROVED SELECTION TOOL
In CS5, you can use InDesign’s Selection tool to move a graphics frame and a graphic. With the Selection tool chosen, move the pointer within a graphics frame. (It doesn’t matter whether the frame is selected.) Notice that when the pointer is within the frame, a donut-shaped “content indicator” icon is displayed at the center of the frame. When the pointer is outside the content indicator, you can click and drag to select the frame and move both the frame and the graphic within. If you move the pointer within the content indicator, a hand pointer is displayed. Clicking and dragging when this pointer is displayed selects the graphic and moves it without moving the frame. Sweet relief!