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Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended (First Look Review)

1 Sep, 2007 By: Ron LaFon

A Photoshop for the technical at heart.


Trying to describe what's new in Photoshop — any version — is like trying to capture the essence of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in 10 words or fewer. You might be concise, but you lose a lot of the subtleties. Whole books have been written about just portions of Photoshop's capabilities, so I won't spend a lot of time trying to define what's new. For a better look, visit the Adobe Web site at www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/family. I will, however, take a very brief look at a totally new version of Photoshop — Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended. It's Photoshop geared to those in the technical pursuits.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended
Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended

The software's features offer much to film, video, and multimedia professionals and to graphic and Web designers using 3D and motion in their creations. Manufacturing and medical professionals also will find much of use here, as will architects, engineers, and scientific researchers. With this release, you get everything that's included in Photoshop CS3, as well as tools for editing 3D and motion-based content and performing image analysis.

Photoshop CS3 Extended now directly supports several 3D file formats: U3D (no surprise there), 3DS, OBJ, Collada, and Google KMZ. Native support is provided for files with 1–1.5 million polygons (figures 1 and 2). You can import, view, and interact with most 3D models, and you can easily render and incorporate 3D content into your 2D composites and edit existing textures on 3D models directly within the application to see the results immediately.

Figure 1. An Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended screen showing a U3D 3D file open inside the application.
Figure 1. An Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended screen showing a U3D 3D file open inside the application.

The Vanishing Point feature has been enhanced with 3D support in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended, so you can edit in perspective on multiple surfaces — even those connected at angles other than 90 degrees. You also can measure in perspective; wrap images, graphics, or text around multiple planes; and output 2D planes as 3D models.

Figure 2. A number of 3D file formats can be opened inside Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended, including OBJ files such as this one.
Figure 2. A number of 3D file formats can be opened inside Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended, including OBJ files such as this one.

New measurement tools in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended allow you to extract quantitative information from images. You can calibrate or set the scale of an image then use any of Photoshop Extended's selection tools to define and calculate distance, perimeter, area, or other measurements. You can record data points in a measurement log and export data, including histogram data, to a spreadsheet for further analysis.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended includes an Animation palette that lets you create an animation from a series of images. After an animation has been defined and created, you can export it to a wide variety of formats, including QuickTime, MPEG-4, and FLV.

Just before the editorial deadline for this review, Adobe released a free plug-in allowing users to search and download 3D models from Google 3D Warehouse directly from within Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended. This free plug-in is available in the Adobe Labs section of www.adobe.com.

Adobe has taken a close look at how a wide variety of customers use Photoshop in day-to-day work. The result is a version that combines all of the superb editing, compositing, and image-manipulation tools that make Photoshop one of the premier applications of our time. Adobe has done this superbly well, seamlessly blending an enhanced and updated version of its premiere image-oriented application with additional technical tools.

For a more comprehensive list of features in Adobe Photoshop CS3 or CS3 Extended, visit www.adobe.com. Here you'll find a wealth of product information, as well as examples and case histories that show how individuals are using these products.

System requirements for Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended, Windows version, include a system based on an Intel Pentium 4, Intel Centrino, Intel Xeon, or Intel Core Duo or compatible processor running Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise (certified for 32-bit editions). The system also needs to have at least 512 MB of RAM and 1 GB of available hard disk space (additional free space is required during installation) and a DVD-ROM drive.

A monitor with at least 1,024 x 768 resolution and a 16-bit or greater video card is required. Some 3D features in Photoshop CS3 Extended require a DirectX 9–capable graphics card with at least 64 MB of VRAM. An Internet or phone connection is required for product activation, and QuickTime 7.0 is required to use the QuickTime features. Online services, including but not limited to Adobe Stock Photos and Acrobat Connect, may not be available in all languages and currencies.

The Macintosh version of Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended requires a PowerPC G4 or G5 or multicore Intel processor Macintosh running Mac OS X v.10.4.8. You'll need at least 512 MB of RAM and 2 GB of available hard disk space (additional free space is required during product installation). You'll also need a DVD-ROM drive for installation. As with the Windows version of Photoshop CS3, you'll need a display capable of at least 1,024 x 768 resolution with a 16-bit or greater video card. Some 3D features in Photoshop Extended require an OpenGL 1.4–capable graphics card with at least 64 MB of VRAM.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended is available for an estimated street price of $999, and Adobe Photoshop CS3 has an estimated price of $649. Licensed owners of Photoshop CS2, Photoshop CS, or Photoshop 7.x can upgrade to Adobe Photoshop CS3 for $199 or to Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended for $349. Photoshop Elements users can upgrade for $899. Licensed owners of Photoshop CS2, Photoshop CS, or Photoshop 7.x are eligible for special upgrade pricing to certain editions of Adobe CS3 as well.

Photoshop has long been an extremely useful application for design professionals in the visualization and digital content creation pursuits, but the addition of support for 3D and the ability to obtain quantitative as well as qualitative data from images adds great depth and capabilities to this already remarkably capable product. With its additional integration with Adobe Lightroom and superb facility with digital images, Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended is an exceptional product and a very useful tool for design professionals. Highly Recommended.



Ron LaFon, a contributing editor for Cadalyst, is a writer, editor, and a computer graphics and electronic publishing specialist from Atlanta, Georgia. He is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta.


About the Author: Ron LaFon


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