Adobe Photoshop CS4


Adobe Systems, USA

Operating system:

Mac, Windows, Linux,

Native filetype:



Raster graphics and photographic editing software

Next version release:




See also:

Creative Suite




Layout and Printing


Raster vs. Vector  


LEARN, The Catalogue 


Official Support
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Photoshop is the industry standard for photographic and raster image manipulation.  It is well integrated into the Creative Suite enabling it to handle a wide variety of image filetypes.  The range and power of its image manipulation and visualisation tools are excellent.  A must-learn.

Primary functions:

Photoshop's functionality focuses on:
1.     Image editing and manipulation
Of particular importance to users with visualisation requirements Photoshop provides a host of visual effects such as sunlight effects which can dramatically improve post-render image quality.  NB. Usually, it is easier to create an average render of your model and Photoshop it to an amazing quality, than it is to create an amazing render directly through your Rendering Software .
2.     Image analysis and conversion especially helpful is Action Script which allows batch-processing, significantly reducing workload.
3.     3D and motion graphics

It is important to realise that Photoshop is best used with raster images (see Raster vs. Vector ). ]link to Printing section page]

Note that Photoshop is not really the best program to be used for the laying out o fimages.  For these it is definitely preferable to use programs such as InDesign or Illustrator .

Similarly, batch processing and RAW file conversion is best handled in Bridge, despite Photoshop's Action Scripts.  It's just easier in Bridge.

Similar to Photoshop in terms of functionality is CorelDraw and a few others, but really Photoshop is by far and away the industry standard.

Primary outputs:

Photoshop's output centres on:
1.     Printing both to paper and to digital formats.  Usually Photoshop enters the design process towards the post production stage after rendering or image taking.  For high-quality printing, Photoshop demands attention is paid to certain colour profiling, colour management and image resolution issues.  For more information in this area see Printing and Layout .


Photoshop abides by the standardised Adobe logic found across the Creative Suite.  For users already familiar with this logic picking up Photoshop will be relatively straight forward.  New users will find the interface very visually oriented and clear and easy to understand.  Functions are carried out via a collection of toolboxes.  It is easy to customise the interface to suit user requirements (the addition of alternative, specialised toolboxes for example).  Customising the user interface will enhance the ease of use.

Sometimes the name of the tool (ie Magic Wand tool) does not clearly indicate the tools function (cf. Blur or Smudge tool).  Learning the specific  functions of different tools can take a bit of time, as can differentiating the slew of icons which result from Adobe¿s general icon-happy approach to user interface construction.

Tasks are carried out using tools from toolboxes and graphic drop down menus.  However Short Keys make operating the program far more efficient – for a list of short keys see here. With short keys the key (L, or W, etc) calls a single tool or function.  Many of these short keys are standardised across the Creative Suite.  Indeed, it is fairly common that students first become competent in Photoshop before going to pick up Illustrator .  Short keys save perhaps 3-4 seconds from each tool change time, but it adds up; seconds become minutes and minutes become hours.

File transfer between other Creative Suite program formats is easy.  Similarly, Photoshop is high interoperable in general, importing and exporting in almost all image file formats.   The use of Paths facilitates outputting images to other Creative Suite programs.



Learning support:

Extensive online support is available for Photoshop, owing to its huge popularity.  Media Centre suggest the follow tutorials as a starting point:

Beginner A
Beginner B
Beginner C

Intermediate A
Intermediate B
Intermediate C

Advanced A
Advanced B

You will also likely find interesting:





External links:



First published Mon. 1 Feb. 2010 

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