Photoshop CS5: What's in it for designers?

Photoshop CS5 obviously packs a wealth of big-ticket features, especially for photographers. It might be harder to see what all has been improved for designers. Here are ten enhancements I think everyone–but especially those working with lots of layers and/or designing Web/screen output–will like.

  • Multi-layer opacity/fill adjustment: Select multiple layers & adjust their opacity and/or fill simultaneously.
  • Mini Bridge: “MB” is a pocket-sized version of Bridge that runs as a panel inside Photoshop (and InDesign), making it easy to navigate & browse files without leaving PS. This feature really deserves its own coverage here & will get it soon.
  • Drag and drop of files: You can now drag one or more files onto a Photoshop document to place them as layers. This is especially useful when dragging in files from Mini Bridge, letting MB function as a sort of library panel. I recently had to lay out dozens of UI widget screenshots, each stored as a separate file, and I found this feature a godsend.
  • “Sticky” layer styles: See previous entry.
  • Paste in Place command: See previous entry.
  • Copy Color’s Hex Code command. See previous entry.
  • Deeper layer nesting (up to 10 deep): Sort of self-explanatory. It works just as you’d expect, though I’d shy away from using the feature if you’re expecting to send layered files to older versions of PS or older PSD-reading apps as they won’t be able to read the deeply nested data.
  • Animated GIF import: See previous entry.
  • Optionally omit “Copy” on duplicated layers: See previous entry.
  • Repoussé (3D extrusion & inflation): This Photoshop Extended feature also really deserves its own coverage here, so look for that soon.

Bonus item: If you need to conduct design reviews with clients and/or colleagues, I think you’ll find the free CS Review service built into Photoshop and other CS5 apps compelling. More on that one, too, soon.

27 thoughts on “Photoshop CS5: What's in it for designers?

  1. Thanks for the posts. Looking forward to trying the new release out. Can you tell us about launch time and memory use? Does mini-bridge have a light resource footprint?

  2. Got to agree with Somesh, there’s nothing much in this for web designers. I’m expecting terrible type rendering, the same export dialogs with poor png support and pixel snapping weirdness. Ah well, more bloat is nice right? Maybe time to move to Fireworks… that does appear to be the proper tool for the job after all

  3. Multi-layer opacity/fill adjustment, Drag and drop of files and Paste in Place command are cool. These small refinements are mostly more interesting to me than the big new features, that are promoted when a new version launches.
    But I’m not convinced to upgrade, yet, although I wanted. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but the CS5 doesn’t look so much better to me than my wonderful CS3.
    And compared to the US the european prices are ridiculously high. I could buy a ticket and fly to the states to purchase a CS and it would cost me almost the same.

  4. The new content-aware Healing Brush and Multi-layer opacity/fill adjustments sounds great (Oh no I mixed “photographer” and “designer” target groups!).
    In fact, PS, AI and ID all look great (I haven’t heard much about DW and FL).

  5. How about a Glyphs palette/window? Has that made it into Photoshop CS5? What is the hold-up with that?

  6. HTML 5, CSS3, Webkit, Opera and Firefox are free. I just need a sub $100 image editor and I’m done. Not compelling features for WebDevs/Designers…

  7. There are several inexpensive/free options out there if you look. PS has features that a web designer can use, but I don’t think they are the primary audience.
    Fireworks has a much better tool set for web design, but not so much for photographers and other digital artists/designers. It’s not under $100, but surely you can make that up with what you charge your clients?

  8. Small resource footprint.
    The best image compression algorithms in the world.
    Deep CSS and W3C Standards integration.
    I think that it is very hard to find myself using photoshop a lot or justifying the price tag because now most of the time I spend it on programs such as Textmate, Coda, CSSEdit and Transmit.
    I feel that Photoshop is very far of the modern web design process. The free review service sounds cool but I wouldn’t use it because we already have that with version control and the clients visiting the actual site and not muckups…

  9. I actually have both PixelMator and Acorn. They are decent Photoshop replacements but lack compression and image quality. And as I have stated before I spend most of the time on other apps. Regards

  10. Hi! I love the blog – thanks so much for all the info and interaction. It’s much appreciated.
    I have a question that’s kind of related to PSCS5 – I’ve been trying for years to find a way to rotate text within a text box without needing to actually rotate the box itself. (Does that make sense?)
    Is there a way to currently do that? Will there be a way in PSCS5? Can any of the Adobe Suite software do something like this for import into PS? (Trying to decide which suite to upgrade to….) Thanks so much for any information and help!

  11. @mario – You don’t like the image compression from Save for Web? (If not, what app do you consider world class/better than Photoshop?)
    From your other comments, it sounds like you want Photoshop to export code – or do you want to use CSS to control fonts in the graphics in Photoshop?

  12. I personally don’t like the drag-and-drop of external files into files opened in Photoshop CS5. I see it can be useful. But it should be turn-offable.
    As for me, I drag files from various file browsers into Photoshop all the time (see annotation 1 below). I *always* want the dragged file as an independent document in Photoshop. *Never* as a new layer in another open file. In CS5, to assure that the dragged file remains an independent file, i now have to awkwardly watch out *where* i drop that file – not in the general workspace, but over panels or menus. That’s relatively stressful especially on a packed screen.
    I see that with a new preference option in Photoshop CS5 you decide whether the dragged file should be placed as a smart object or as a regular layer (and another option covers the initial size). But you *cannot* decide wether dragged files, dropped over the general workspace, will be “placed” at all or if they should rather be opened as independent documents. They will always be “placed”. That’s stressful for my work.
    I would like to see options. Suggestion:
    The section Preferences/File Handling gets options how to handle dragged image files:
    Option 1): “Place” dragged files into existing document (now the only possibility in CS5) (see ann. 2)
    Option 2): Open dragged files as independant document, even if dropped over another open document
    Alternatively, why not do it with a keyboard shortcut:
    Drag file and drop – file is “placed” in open document.
    Drag file, press Alt-key, then drop – file is opened independantly as a separate document.
    (Actually, i personally would hope for the other way round: Drag and drop without Alt-key opens independant document.)
    I actually tried if some keyboard shortcut would stop Photoshop from “placing” dragged images. To my surprise, i discovered nothing. (Usually additional keys bring up something new, unexpected.)
    While at it, i miss something like that:
    1. Select an image in Bridge.
    2. “Edit, Copy” brings the image into the Photoshop clipboard. (It works with other image browsers.)
    3. In Photoshop, “Edit, Paste” inserts the copied file as a new smart object layer. (see ann. 3)

    Annotation 1)
    I never use the Open command. I never use double clicks in file browsers either, because my JPEGs are linked to a fast file viewer here. Doubleclicks in Bridge would lead to opened docs in Photoshop, but Bridge is quite a heavy tanker sometimes.
    Annotation 2)
    Alternatively as smart object or as regular, destructable layer.
    Annotation 3)
    Alternatively, Photoshop CS5 could have this menu command:
    “Edit, Paste special, Paste file selected in Bridge into active document”

    1. I could agree with you more.. The drag and drop “feature” is really cramping my workflow. Adobe needs to do something about this asap cos i know that many people are having problems with this.
      I’ve just spent over an hour now search Google trying to find out if there was an option I’m missing or if there is something I’m doing wrong with my file dragging technique. It worked so well before, a few options on how to control it would be appreciated. Come on Adobe. I’ve spent a lot of money for this software. Help us out here.
      [Just drag files onto an inactive part of the app UI (e.g. the area to the right of tabs). –J.]

    2. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m using Windows, and this used to be my worksflow: Browse images with explorer and drag them above the program icon or above the program for editing, and save changes. Now either one works. I don’t like creating huge layered photoshop files, because they take ages to open.
      – In Windows 7 the program icon on the dock “pins” the image to it, and doesn’ t open it.
      – And PS5 doesn’t open it either, but places it inside an image. It’s fustrating. I would also love that PS5 would open the image by default, and with alt-drag place it as a new smart layer.
      Now I’m reduced to use right-click and “open in PS5”, which is cumbersome compared to how easy it used to be before. Adobe should have thought about this better; new features like this should be used with ctrl or alt commands, not by default.
      I’m working with a lot of .png images, thus by default I want them to open in Preview, not in Photoshop. That’s why double clicking doesn’t work.

  13. Henrik you couldn’t be more right! I’m surprised nobody else notices this. It’s the most frustrating thing in such a massive piece of software. Yeah, I see the use of it for designers doing UI stuff and layouts, but for photographers who want to open and edit images independently it sucks. I just can’t believe there isn’t an option to get around this. A big turn off for me.
    [I don’t want to sound flippant, but why don’t you just double click the images to open them? Why do you expend more energy dragging them across the screen? –J.]

    1. Yep, I totally agree. John – the reason I don’t double-click is that the images are predominantly JPGs, which I need defaulted to Preview for easy previewing! A swift drag in is a very easy process, and this has been really slowing me down in CS5. However, Henrik’s tip to drag onto the tools has sorted me out, even if it is a bit illogical!

  14. I agree that it would be very nice to turn OFF the auto-place feature – i.e. give me the option to drag-n-drop and open as new document.
    If you are careful (!), you can drop on near the title bar and it will do a new document, but it’s a lot easier to just “toss” ’em over there in the same way as you do the first images.
    As an aside, the new “straighten tool” in CS5 is GREAT – lots easier/quicker than the arbitrary rotation – nice job Adobe.
    Since I rarely use the Eyedropper tool, is there any way to have the Ruler tool on top of that selection rather than third one down?

  15. Yup, sucky text rendering! Very nice showy “poster” features (some that work well with certain images but not everything) but the basics continue to be ignored – Safari renders text better than Photoshop. Shameful! Adobe, stop whingeing about Flash and do something positive about type in Phototshop or it too will soon get marginalised by people like Apple. Steve Jobs is right – Adobe is lazy!

  16. Okay. So I’m using PS5 and I like it. I am not having any major issues, but one or two minor issues are really messing with my head.
    For example: Can I NOT export CS5 files so they can be read by earlier versions of Photoshop? I have a number of clients who are using CS3, for example. If I want to give them a layered PS file, am I just screwed?
    [Not at all. Unless you’re using some CS5-specific feature such as deeper layer nesting, older versions of PS shouldn’t have any problems at all when opening CS5-made PSDs. What specifically are you seeing? –J.]
    Also, this version of Photoshop seems VERY sensitive to fonts. My CS5 crashes when I merely click on the text tool. I don’t even have to click inside the image area. I have read that his is because damaged or corrupted fonts are loaded and the program just doesn’t like that at all. Anyone else finding this an issue?
    [It’s true that bad fonts can bring down Photoshop. I’ll check to see what’s being investigated right now. –J.]

  17. I’m working on a project at home in CS3, but my school has CS5. Will I have any issues with opening my work in CS5?
    [Nope. –J.]

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