Adobe 'extends' Photoshop for AEC professionals

August 11, 2010

Adobe Systems announced in early March an expansion of its digital imaging product line, offering two editions of Adobe Photoshop CS3.

The San Jose software firm is releasing the latest version of Photoshop for its core market of designers and professional photographers, Photoshop CS3, but it's also releasing Photoshop CS3 Extended, a new version of the program with more powerful tools that will allow creative design, engineering, and construction professionals (as well as other users) to get the most out of the digital images they work with. It's the first time the almost 20-year-old Photoshop program has been segmented to meet the needs of different professional users. BD+C was part of the Beta group invited to test an early version of Photoshop CS3 Extended.

CS3 Extended offers AEC users several important benefits:

Support for common 3-D interchange formats to import 3-D and 2-D modelsAutomatic measurement and analysis tools that set scale and extract and export quantitative information from any imageNondestructive layers and smart filters that allow architects and engineers to make changes to digital images without irrevocably changing the originals.

The goal of Photoshop CS3 Extended, said Ashley Manning, Adobe Photoshop product manager, is to “stretch what digital imaging means” for high-level users like architects and engineers.

A cleaner shop

The improvements begin with a new interface for both versions of the software, an easy palette organization, and a brighter presentation. Fly-out palettes can be moved, minimized, customized, or collapsed down to a single icon. The familiar two-column toolbar can be converted into a narrower single-column bar to allow users to get the user interface out of the way to give the workspace more real estate.

Adobe continues to refine the visual style of its products with that of its 2005 acquisition, Macromedia. The new Photoshop interface resembles that of Adobe Flash and After Effects, two of the many Web-based programs with which it's now more compatible (Photoshop .PSD files can now be imported into Flash). Video support has been improved, allowing animations and other video to be imported and saved as .PSD files, with markers that After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro can read with no file conversion or compression necessary.

Layers can now be saved as smart objects, and by applying the new editable filters to them, architects and engineers can make changes to plans, renderings, and other digital images in saved layers while still not changing the original work. The layers can be saved as different versions of a single image file. A new Quick Selection tool allows you to choose the parts of your image to edit. No longer do you have to hold down the Shift key to add to your selection. Instead, just click the areas of your image that you want to select and you're done.

Extending Photoshop

In addition to all the editing tools of Photoshop CS3, the Extended version has analysis features that set scales and measurements (such as area, perimeter, height, and width). The numbers automatically adjust for changes you make to the image and are saved to the file. A more powerful texture-editing feature allows you to make quick and easy composites with as little as two or three clicks. A designer, for example, could show different renderings of prospective designs that can add and subtract for added square footage or a different footprint. By using the automatic layer alignment and blending features, you can also combine several parts of multiple images into one scene.

Planes can finally be set with angles other than 90 degrees—hooray! The Vanishing Point feature adjusts brush strokes, healing, and cloning as you paint over its perspective planes. You can now quickly and easily create multiple planes in any image, connected at any angle. In addition, artwork can be wrapped around multiple planes simultaneously. To adjust angles of planes, use the Alt/Option key when dragging on a side point of a plane, or enter a specific angle in the Angle field in the dialog box.

A menu option of “place 3-D model” allows you to import a number of popular 3-D and 2-D rendering file types that includes .3DS, .OBJ, .KMZ, .U3D, and Collada. Both versions of Photoshop come with beefed-up versions of Adobe's Bridge (a file organization program with new features such as stackable icons) and Camera Raw programs.

Photoshop CS3 is available as a demo at for Photoshop CS2 users. The full version is available at retailers for an MSRP of $649 (full) and $199 (upgrade). Photoshop CS3 Extended is available at retailers for a MSRP of $999 (full) and $349 (upgrade).


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