Adobe ® Creative Suite ® 3 Design Premium software is the designer's dream toolkit for print, web, and mobile publishing. It combines all-new versions of essential tools for producing everything from professional page layouts to rich interactive experiences in a unified, intuitive environment.
• Photoshop Extended
• Acrobat 8 Pro
• Stock Photos
• Version Cue
• Device Central
• Acrobat Connect
• All-new versions of essential creative tools : InDesign ®, Photoshop ® Extended, Illustrator ®, Flash ®, Dreamweaver ® and Acrobat ® 8 Professional.
• Unparalleled integration : Use native files any way you need to, with full portability between key applications.
• Support for the latest Macintosh and Windows systems.
• Industry-leading image editing and illustration : Experience unrivaled image editing and compositing.
• Fluid web workflows : Become more proficient at web and interactive design with Photoshop, Flash and Dreamweaver.
• Designer-developer workflows : Import layered Photoshop and Illustrator files into Flash, animate them, and export them automatically.
• Adobe PDF print workflows : Use widely available Adobe PDF to create reliable and consistent final output.
• Visual media management in Adobe Bridge CS3 : Easily organize, browse, locate, and preview assets with Bridge.
• Integrated support for mobile design : Produce compelling mobile graphics in Illustrator and Photoshop Extended and add interactivity in Flash.
After reading the review on here and being offered the chance to get this cheap through the training academy I do part-time learning at I just couldnt wait to get home and install it. I have enjoyed learning how to use Photoshop even though I know I rate like a baby with crayons next to some of the people I know. I also have to admit that using PS for me is a lot like using a V8 powered chainsaw to peel potatoes but I just couldnt resist having all the potential this package allows on hand in case I ever do need to push my limits a bit.
In fact, after playing with this for a few weeks and seeing what is possible I have enrolled to do the first year of a design course because I feel that at last I have the tools so its worth going out to try for the skills to use them properly.
The review on here really made up my mind to buy it because I got a peek into the sheer power of what the CS3 apps can do and how user-friendly they have become. I would still love to see Adobe put out a decent easy-to-use task-driven 3d model builder. They made a go of it years ago with 'Dimension' but dropped it for some reason. A real shame because it would have really gone well now that PS will work with 3d models. Perhaps this is a sign they are looking at it again? It doesn't have to be anything really fancy, no animation required, just the ability to model and build basic primitives and a good lathe tool perhaps? (I have always liked the idea of making some spare cash by creating stuff for mates who play in 'Second Life'.
I love the new features of Acrobat 8, and it looks like I might be getting the hang of Flash at last. I have even started to build my own website using Dreamweaver, which is a remarkable thing for me, since I can't code my way out of a paper bag and CSS leaves me staring at the wall making 'blibbley' noises when mates try to explain it to me. I have even started to play with Illustrator and seem to be getting to grips with that really well so this was an excellent investment for me and I know I am going to have a much better chance of getting through my education in a shorter time now that I have the best tools I could need right at my fingertips. it even runs nicely on my laptop even though it only has 768mb of RAM instead of the 1gb the package 'requires'.
WHAT AN UPGRADE! I tell ya... I was expecting something special from Adobe's latest offering in the Creative Suite evolution... but thie sheer extent of what they managed to do has blown me away! Let me go over only a few of the highlights...
Let's start with Photoshop, their flagship product. Available in pretty much every combo kit they make, this is one of the keystone applications, and now it has taken a quantum leap forward. In previous releases, it was paired with ImageReady, a standalone application aimed more at servicing online resource makers by working with the image optimising, framing and animated iconsside of things. Not any more, now it's all packaged into the one application, with more on top. When Adobe introduced the concept of "Smart Objects", which are basically photoshop documents inside a photoshop document, it was a new leap into the future... now Smart Objects have expanded in score to include video clips and 3d objects! Yes, that's right. By incororating elements of Flash and Quicktime runtimes, Photoshop can now handle non-flat media in many formats! (Note: These features are available in Photoshop Extended Edition only.)
Tools you may want to be wary of include the new "Quick Select wand" which replaces the "Magic Wand" in the toolbar. (Magic Wand is still there, but is now an alternate and is available by click-hold'ing the Quick Select button until the fly-out menu appears.) It can save a lot of time, with it's intuitive behaviour. With care and smart brush-size adjustments, it is quite capable of isolating an object from even the most complicated background. However, it can also react quite unexpectedly and counter-intuitive in places. Care needs to be taken when getting to grips with this tool.
In terms of adjustments, the highlight has to be the new "Black & White Adjustment Layer" feature. Similar in looks to an extended 'levels' palette or 'Channel Mixer', this has more... with CMYK & RGB channel adjustments at the same time. For those who need to be able to fine-tune a photo to it's perfect point, this is the tool you will want to study the most. The 'Curves' adjustor has also had a bit of a functional upgrade, with a histogram of the affected channels being ghosted into the backgraound. This allows you to have a much better estimation of how the adjustments are going to affect the image, and make it easier to tweak them just right. Also a heavily re-engineered "Brightness and Contrast" adjustor. You can use it in 'Legacy' mode where it works the same as we have always known it to, or you can activate it's more modern engine and as if by magic, no more 'washing out to grey' or 'posterising it to white, yellow and red', now you are able to get a far more effective adjustment without the damage to the clarity.
Some astounding new features have become available with the new, highly improved interoperability of the CS3 Suite, such as the ability to exchange far more esoteric data formats between applications. For example, take a flat photo of a building into Photoshop's 'Vanishing Point' tool. Apply and adjust multiple perspective planes, then export that data directly into other applications, such as After Effects. This is a fast way to model 3d buildings and objects from 2d flat source material. If you get enough shots from around the building, you can assemble a full building easily. The 3d options are wonderful, to say the least, even with their limitations. Since this is still NOT a full 3d editing environment, there are things you just can't do with the imported objects, such as edit their vertices or faces, easily change proceedurally-generated textures, etc. But there are aspects that make this a feature any serious designer is going to love playing with. For example, the best thing to do is utilise the new "Open as a Smart Object" option, then drag the Smart Object over to the main working document. From there, you treat it like any other layer until it's time to play with things. A double-click brings it open in it's own window, and a further double-click on the object activates the 3d features. These are only obvious through the toolbar up top of the screen changing to show camera and object edit tools and options. My favourite 'dinky feature' has to be the cross-section tool. Think about that in terms of engineering diagrams, using the parts and being able to slice them at any angle and depth you wish, all controlled by a slider gadget! Peel away a complex model slice by slice... stunning stuff. As well as that, you can render the object in a number of ways, ranging from raw wireframe to full-resolution composite, roll it around any axis for best view, or even stretch or compress it along any one or more axis. For example, by compressing a model along it's Z-axis, I turned a Saxon helmet into a Norman shield.
Now probably the biggest features that will hold much appeal for large-format designers are the 'Auto Align', 'Auto Blend', and 'Smart Objects > Stack Mode > Median'... Auto Align and Auto Blend, reasonaly self-explanatory individually, are used in conjunction to stitch together panoramic shots into one coherant image. This is a feature that has been around, in many guises and grades, for a few years... however, this is probably the most easy to use yet effective system I have seen yet. But the powerhouse new feature has to be the Median feature. Imagine you are trying to get a good full-frontal of a shop or building, but every time you hit the shutter release, you get the back half of a passing car, or the cyclist who popped around the corner, or an errant pedestrian... No problems! Just stack all of the images into a single file (Yes, there is a script for this already installed!) and Auto-Align them, then trigger Median. It searches 'down through' the stack and builds an image out of the pixels that appear in the majority of the images. Suddenly you have an image that has had the majority, if not all, of the transitional and temporary objects removed, leaving only the immobile ones behind, such as building, monuments, etc. This has some very serious applications in the design industry. A quick test shoot of the local dairy's front door confirmed it... if you can get a good 8 solid shots, you can leave Photoshop to compile you a clean, unobstrcted view of the entire front of the building. Of course, a lot depends on the density of traffic between camera and subject, so don't expect perfection... just a miracle.
OK, I have just counted up my notes, and with over 20 more 'highlights' still on the list, I think it safe to say I should cut this short and move on to other applications. There are just too many new things to go into any great details, but trust me, if you enjoy working in Photoshop, you'll LOVE the new features, because EVERYTHING has had some improvements done. If you aren't a PS fan, you don't know what your missing, and now's an excellent time to buy it and find out!
Now, Dreamweaver is one of the applications I use a lot, but hardy to it's full potential, being as I am an enthusiastic amateur, not a full-blown professional when it comes to web design. This version looks about the same, which is great... it means a shallower learning curve. Rather than seriously mucking around with it, they just made it better. The addition of more Spry and PHP tools gives a designer lots more scope for automating the interaction with the database, which streamlines production of sites to a high degree, thus improving customer satisfaction by lowering hourly costs for 'mundane tasks' and allowing more time for innovation on the development side.
The Syncronise function is a lot more powerful, with a nifty new interface with icons and reliable right-click options. One thing I would prefer to see is the ability to over-ride the defaults. During a massive PUT session, it would be good if any 'Resolve conflict" tagged files could in fact be set to GET or IGNORE as well as PUT and DELETE... the only way to do this at present is to do a 'GET & PUT' session, which can be quite a headache if you have a LOT of local-only developmental files that don't need to be put on the server... 'Cloaking' is still a bit vague in this regard, with consistent performance not always apparent.
Now, I am not a great proponent of the drift towards 100%-CSS-Driven sites, simply because it's still not 100% uniform across browsers, whereas the now-dreaded Tables layout works the way it should on any browser released in the last 5 years... however, since my lone voice is trying to be heard from under a sea of CSS-zealots, I might as well comment on the stunning new visual aids for CSS-based design implimented in DW CS3. With the click of a button, DW will give you an immediate random-colour-coded visually-cued respresentation of your page. All the DIVs and SPANs are converted to coloured blocks stacked on and within each other, giving you an immediate idea of where any errors are occuring and why. Flip the toggle off again, and your layout reverts to WYSIWYG-view. With the new tools available, it has become very easy to separate out any embedded, or on-page CSS elements and convert them to a new, or merge them with an existing, site-wide stylesheet... or vice-versa for those speaciality situations. This will make updating old sites extremely easy and time-efficient.
Now, when it comes to compatibility checking, the new "Check Browser Compatibility" tool is a vital new feature. It will quickly scan through your page or site and report back to you what could go wrong and where, gives you an idea of how likely the problem is to manifest, what browsers and versions will trigger it, and will even provide you with clickable links to possible solutions, workarounds and resources relating to it. A most excellent tool for any designer, new or experienced. And for the experienced, you'll find it's improved Drag-n-Drop functionality invaluable when it comes to XML/AJAX data... styles are set on containers, not data, so dragging the data into the required container will sort it all out for you, simple as pie.
This brings me nicely to InDesign. This has been fighting it out against industry leaders for many years... I recall back in my days in the newspapers when we were chugging away with QuarkXpress and the local Adobe rep arrived to rave about this new standard, InDesign, and how it was designed to compliment Acrobat, which we were already using for various things. It didn't really take off back then, but I tell you, it has really grown up to be something stunning. Got text in another programme? No worries, hold down -SHIFT- while you drag-n-drop it over and it will be reformatted to comply with the style of the container. Yup, styles apply to containers, not data now! It's like CSS for hardcopy... of course, this helps a lot when you are exporting to web-pages, because it's already formatted in a web-safe manner.
Another really powerful tool is the Multi-Place Cursor... select multiple images to place into your document, and they stack up IN your cursor. Use your cursor-arrow keys to cycle through them, click and it's placed and the next one is in line to drop right away! This really comes into play when you make up a template in InDesign, and use it within an InDesign document. Yup, SmartObjects have crossed over from Photoshop to InDesign! (Starting to see how easily they all tie together now? ) And once you have finished your document, export it quickly and easily in XHTML format, ready to use in Dreamweaver. With Layer Styles and Object Styles also crossing the species-barrier and becoming viable inside InDesign, you will soon become quite proficient. Be sure to experiment with the Gradient Feather option... think of it like a gradient blend'd mask...
Illustrator is next in the line-up. I am freely admitting that I am not very comfortable with Illustrator, but with the new interface being deployed across most of the suite's applications, it's fairly easy to pick up some skills if you apply a bit of brain-power to the task. Before you get too lost, make sure you check out the Live Colour Wheel... this has some amazing potential, since ALL the active colours are marked on it, and can be left freely changable, or locked in relation to each other so that by adjusting any one colour, you affect them all, shoving them around the gamut, giving you some interesting insights into workable colour schemes... and those that should be shot on sight.
One of the tools I really enjoyed experimenting with was the "Warp" tool... quite like the 'Liquify' filter from PShop, only this works on vector objects! In the same vein, the 'Eraser' tool allows you to cookie-cut shapes out of your objects... this is not at all hard to understand, if you have some idea of how boolean vectors work, but it just hasn't been made so easy to do until now. You can even use 'Symbols' that you create yourself, which are very much like 'Custom Shapes' in Photoshop. With so many Photoshop features merging out into other applications, I can only guess how soon it will be before all this is rolled into one application!
Another stunning new tool is the 'Live Paint Bucket' tool... think flood-fill, but it operates on the holes in vector objects. This could save a lot of valuable time for designers, although it will do so simply by shaving a few minutes off each job, since previously this was done by simply sticking a slightly-larger object behind the hole in the foreground object.
Now to the last 'main' application in the suite, Flash. Now, thanks to the merger with Adobe, you cam import Photoshop PSD files directly into Flash and manipulate the layers individually... this means you can do most of your design directly in Photoshop and Illustrator, and minimise your raw-art files. However, you need to be aware of what Blend Modes you use, since Flash still doesn't support all of them yet, though it does support quite a lot more this time around than in previous versions.
With today's market being increasingly WAP-aware, you need to be aware that the newest models come with, and some of the older models can download and install, a Flash Lite player, allowing you to create SWF-based media suitable for mobile devices, quickly and easily, by using the Device Central application. This app, available from most of the suite apps, allows you to pre-flight test your media as it would appear, and function, on various mobile devices such as phones and PDAs.
You can now use the 'Flash Pen' tool to draw motion paths, and copy'n'paste them between objects easily, as they are treated as objects or styles, rather than paths. Great for designers who want to keep multiple objects separate, but move them as though they were one collection. This ties in with the newly-optimised version 3 ActionScript. Where there used to be up to half a dozen ways to achieve the same effect, this has now been compacted down to 1 or 2 more multi-configurable ways, meaning that you don't need to learn so many commands, yet still retain the same high degree of functionality. The new 'Output Window' will also show you quickly and clearly if you have made any errors in your code.
As a total novice to Flash, I found it quite a challenge to get to grips with, but with much playing around, and the odd crashed-system (One should NOT watch a movie, use Photoshop and Flash and Audition, as well as check emails and be googling madly at the same time, trust me!) I finally started to get a grip on things. One BIG thing that I think should have been port'd over from Photoshop was the Navigator! When heavily zoomed in to a large imge, a way to zip around the frame without having to trust to instinct and the slider bars would be a really welcome addition to Flash. It makes Photoshop so much easier... so why not in Flash too?
Now, lastly, since we have already covered Acrobat 8 previously, I'll finish off with another of my not-that-often applications, Bridge. This is your centralised media centre, allowing you to keep track of any and all appropriate raw materials in your library, gives you the ability to preview, adjust, codify and catalogue all of your stock images, sounds and animations. It's been around for a few years now, and has grown to be a right little powerhouse in it's own right. With transition effects built in, you can even use it as a slideshow presentation! No more need for Powerpoint or suchlike... for something stunning, you'd use After Effects or Flash, but for simple quick spur-of-the-moment things, just drop them in a folder, point Bridge at it, and away you go! You can even use it to preview After Effects effect filters! Now THAT is nifty! You can even place files directly into many of the suite applications direct from Bridge, saving you a lot of time if you need to import a lot of files, or send the same file to a number of apps for use.
So there you have it... Adobe's Creative Suite 3 : Design Premium edition... It's the broken drum of design...
(You just can't beat it.)
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