Monthly Archives: September 2007

Photoshop Tennis returns

I’m excited to see that Coudal Partners’ Photoshop Tennis (background)–now rechristened Layer Tennis–is due to return, after a long absence, this coming Friday.  Emphasizing not just what two designers can do head-to-head with a PSD file, the contest is gearing up to be more community-driven. According to the site, "You’ll be able to download the raw elements from every match to remix or remash any way you like and then post a link back to your creation."  

All matches take are due to take place on Fridays, live at 2pm Chicago time (GMT+6, meaning 3pm in NYC, Noon in SF and 7 in London).  Upcoming matches:

September 28th
Shaun Inman vs Kevin Cornell
Commentary by John Gruber

October 5th
Neil Durden vs Mathew Star Thomas
Commentary by Debbie Millman

October 12th
Chuck Anderson vs Steven Harrington
Commentary by Jason Kottke

Should be a ball–a fuzzy, RGB #CCCC00-colored digital ball.

On the personality of Lightroom

Over in the Lightroom Journal, software architect Mark Hamburg shares his thoughts on power vs. complexity & other aspects of the personality of Lightroom.  I find his thoughts refreshingly candid:

We wanted Lightroom to seem elegant. To exhibit grace. To show an attention to style beyond the utilitarian aspect that dominated Adobe’s products up to that time. We wanted a richer UI experience.

We’ve been successful in many ways. At the same time, we are painfully aware that there are places where we could be yet more graceful or elegant.

If you’re interested in more, see also Mark’s interview on, or listen to the podcast in
which he & other members of the Lightroom team tackle these issues. As for the personas of Photoshop, Illustrator, and Flash, see previous.

RapidFixer CS3: Powerful add-on for Bridge

The new RapidFixer extension for Adobe Bridge CS3 helps unlock the power of Camera Raw.  Created by photographer Peter Krogh & developer Tom Nolan, RapidFixer adds quick adjustment strips to the Bridge interface.  Now, instead of needing to pop into the Camera Raw dialog to apply image adjustments (converting to black & white, say, or bumping up exposure by 1/3 stop), you can use RapidFixer to tweak settings on one or more files.

Peter provides a nice overview of the tools in this video–adjusting white balance, applying vignettes, and more.  At around the 2/3rds mark he shows some interesting modifications that facilitate working on photographic negatives.  

I don’t shoot massive numbers of images, but I’ve found RapidFixer extremely handy in reviewing and tweaking my shots.  If you’re crunching a large number of images via Bridge & Camera Raw, you’ll likely find the $49 price of RapidFixer a bargain.

Feedback, please: kuler in Photoshop?

Every time I’ve demonstrated Illustrator CS3’s excellent Live Color feature, the first question I hear is predictable: "Great, but when can I have that in Photoshop? [Or in Flash, or InDesign, or…]"  Selecting harmonious colors is a necessary part of just about every design discipline.

Adobe’s kuler online application offers a subset of Live Color in a Web-hosted, Flash-powered environment.  It offers powerful tools for creating color harmonies, plus tools for saving color sets & sharing those with others.  As noted recently, feeds of these colors can be sucked into other apps.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I want to make it possible to extend Photoshop (and all Adobe apps, for that matter) by dropping in Flash-based palettes/panels.  So, here’s a thought: what if we gave Photoshop (and maybe other Suite apps) the ability to use kuler to create and modify color harmonies, and to upload/download color sets to share with others?

Here’s a really simple mockup I created to show how it might work.  You’d be able to use the color wheel to create color sets based on rules (Analogous, Complementary, etc.).  Clicking on the resulting colors would let you paint with them in Photoshop, and/or save them as color swatches.  You’d also be able to view, search, and use harmonies created by others & shared via kuler.

What do you think?  I created a two-question survey to gauge your response.  Comments are also welcome. [Update: The survey is open again. I didn’t realize that Survey Monkey had a 100-response limit on their free account. Clever, clever…]


Typography: Of Highways & Hell

Time for another typographic gathering:

kuler + screensaver mashup

And the hits keep on coming… File this one under "Eine kleine Bildschirmschoner": a German-speaking developer has created a simple but attractive Mac screensaver (same page auto-translated) that sucks in a feed of popular harmonies on Adobe kuler.  Gut! [Via]

Elsewhere in the world of cool screensavers, groundbreaking Flash coder Yugo Nakamura has created Kaze to Desktop, a Windows "screensaver which moves according to the current wind (=kaze) conditions of your city."  Check out the video to see some super-smooth action. (The scattered piles of Windows chrome remind me of the "crash board" Mordy Golding spotted on a client visit.)

"Scanners," minus the exploding heads

Adobe’s own Russell Brown took his 3D head-scanning show (see previous) on the road to Photoshop World in Las Vegas this month.  Not only could attendees get their heads scanned & turned into 3D models for use in Photoshop CS3 Extended; they could get the resulting skin texture files printed onto fabric.  Scott Kelby volunteered to make sure the apparatus was safe (video), only to have his head printed onto a football that was kicked into the audience.  Here’s a quick gallery featuring some deeply disturbing imagery ;-).

Musing on mediocrity

I often wonder why, in the midst of working with a brilliant team on a beloved & respected product in a company that’s doing better than ever, I’m kind of a miserable bastard.  I get this insane privilege, and yet no matter how full the glass, I see only the flaws, only the things that could and should and must be made better.

I found a little solace in Paul Arden’s It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be.  Maybe, if you’re like me, you will, too:

Why do we strive for excellence when mediocrity is required?

There is little demand in the commercial world for excellence.  There is much, much bigger demand for mediocrity.

The truth is, I’m glad it’s this way.

Imagine a world where all clients were wonderful, where we could produce whatever we felt like with no restrictions, with everybody having freedom to produce all their fantasies unfettered by tedious clients.

What would we do?

We would react against it, saying, “Isn’t this boring.  How can we be dull?  Let’s do it badly, let’s make it ugly, and let’s make it really cheaply.”

That’s the nature of the creative person.  All creative people need something to rebel against.  It’s what gives their lives excitement, and it’s creative people who make the clients’ lives exciting.


Or, as George Bernard Shaw succinctly put it:

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. All progress, therefore, depends upon the unreasonable man.

Keep your head up,

Adobe-Leopard Non-Issue o' the Day

Various people have been wondering about this statement:

“CS3 hasn’t fully been tested under [Mac OS X] Leopard,” Adobe Chief Executive Bruce Chizen told Reuters in an interview. “If it doesn’t work, we will make the necessary adjustments.”

Here’s my take: It’s impossible to say that something has been “fully tested” on a platform that is not yet finished.  Therefore, until Leopard ships (expected this Fall), Adobe can’t say with confidence that everything is A-OK.  Once Leopard hits the streets, if the various product teams discover that something isn’t working well on the new OS, they’ll work on addressing the problem.

In the meantime, lots of folks at Adobe and Apple continue to work together, as they always do, to make things work as well as possible out of the gate. (The same is true with Microsoft & Windows updates.)

Anyway, I hope that provides a little peace of mind.

Photoshop gets a new logo

I’ve been remiss in not sharing the news sooner, but I wanted to give it a chance not to get overshadowed by the Photoshop Express excitement.  In any case, I’m pleased to report that the Photoshop family of products now has its own logo and tagline: See What’s Possible™

As you no doubt know, “Photoshop” has grown far beyond the side project of Michigan grad student, and even beyond a single application, to encompass a range of functionally different apps–Photoshop CS3, Photoshop CS3 Extended, Photoshop Lightroom, Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Album Starter Edition, and soon Photoshop Express–that all share a solid core of imaging smarts.  As the press docs say,

To represent this rich family of products, Adobe is introducing the Photoshop visual logo.
This logo will soon appear in all Photoshop-related marketing, so keep an eye out for it. The
Photoshop logo on a product, service, or technology, represents the rich legacy, technical
quality, and attention to detail that has made Photoshop the gold standard in digital

Or, as The Dude might say, “It really ties the room together.” 😉 Here’s a quick screenshot of the main variations on the logo. [Update: Jeff Schewe has posted a giant version, complete with E.T.]

So, whaddya think?

PS–In light of the above, I can’t resist passing along a totally different example of “Photoshop branding.”