Category Archives: Uncategorized

Photoshop GPU advice

In the wake of various sneak peeks, I’m seeing a fair number of questions about what kinds of graphics cards (GPUs) will be required or recommended for running Photoshop going forward.


We’ll have more to say once the new version is announced, but very generally I can say
you’ll want at least 128MB RAM on a card that’s Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0 compatible.  Of course, more brawn is always welcome, and if you anticipate working with numerous large documents and/or 3D, having 512MB RAM on your card is a good idea.


For what it’s worth, I’ve been demoing by tossing around an enormous image on a 2-year-old ATI Radeon 1600 card (256MB) in a MacBook Pro, and it does just fine.  If your GPU doesn’t meet Photoshop’s requirements, you won’t lose any features you have today, but certain new things won’t be enabled.  As I say, we can get into more details soon.

PS World keynote features more sneaks

Adobe’s Terry White traveled to Photoshop World and recorded a video podcast of the keynote presentation, during which Adobe VP Johnny Loiacono and I offered some sneak peeks of the next version of Photoshop, as well as a few Adobe Labs projects expected to follow closely behind the new release. [Via]  Photographer, artist, and author John Paul Caponigro summarized the demos, and the Photoshop-specific content starts around the 16-minute mark, running 20 minutes or so.

Obscure shortcut tips o' the day

At Photoshop World this week, an attendee asked me why, after switching from Windows to Mac, she was having trouble changing layer blending modes via the keyboard.  It turned out the choice of OS had nothing to do with it.  Rather, she was missing a subtlety in how these shortcuts work: their target depends on which tool is active.


  • With the Move tool (V) selected, you can:
    • change a layer’s blending mode by hitting Shift-plus/minus, cycling forward/backward through the available options;
    • apply a specific mode via Shift-Opt/Alt-letter (e.g. Shift-Opt-O for Overlay);
    • change layer opacity by hitting number keys: "5" sets it to 50%, "6" to 60%, etc., while "55" sets it to 55%, "66" to 66%, and so on.  (Insert joke about "666" erasing your hard drive.)
  • With other tools selected (Brush, Eraser, Gradient, Clone Stamp–anything that can be applied with its own blending and opacity options), these shortcuts apply to the tool options instead of to the layer.  Therefore you can quickly alter your brush opacity by tapping the number keys, but to change the opacity of the layer, you’ll have to switch to the Move tool.
  • For completeness I should point out that you could also switch to another tool that doesn’t have it’s own blending options, such as Crop, and have the shortcuts apply to the layer.  Really, though, it’s easier to say that Move = layer, and brush = brush where these shortcuts are concerned.


Hopefully that’s of some value/interest.  For reference, here (bottom of the page) is a list of the specific blending mode shortcuts.  For further geekery I recommend scoring a copy of the Photoshop Power Shortcuts book on which I collaborated with Michael Ninness.  Skim it and you’ll quickly see why finding shortcuts for new functions in PS is, ah, non-trivial.

"Dear Adobe…"

Dear Adobe is a site devoted to rants & raves (but mostly rants) directed at the Big Red A.  You can "Submit Your Gripe" and vote others’ contributions up or down.  Although much of this stuff is hard to hear (in part because some of it echoes what’s said privately at Adobe), the site is a valuable exercise.  It has driven lots of conversation here: I count 30+ emails from yesterday alone, and that was just among Photoshop team members.  We’re listening, and in response to a request from Adobe VP Dave Story, site creator Erik Frick quickly created a Top 25 list (thanks, Erik).


Some thoughts, in no meaningful order:


  • About the CS3 installers and updater: We know. Painfully. We could blame it on trying to mash together Macromedia & Adobe in one rev while moving to Mac Intel and Vista simultaneously, but at the end of the day things never should have happened as they did.  That’s as much as I personally can say about it.


  • Just because it would be unprofessional of me or others to rant about this or that aspect of the company in public, don’t for a second think it’s not happening behind closed doors.  As I remind my teammates, "I swear because I care"–and I care a lot, at high volume.  It is, to borrow a phrase, "an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about."


  • Similarly, it may look like all we do it ladle on more features (more coats of paint on a creaking house).  What’s not apparent is that we–Photoshop at least–are devoting a large chunk of our resources to architectural work that will yield greater speed, stability, and extensibility.  I’ll share some more specifics on that soon.


  • Russell Williams wrote, "Of course the top engineering item, ‘Stop creating new features and make
    your software fast, stable and straightforward,’ really means ‘stop creating
    new features except for the ones that really help me.’" Everyone likes to complain about "bloat" while asking for just one or two "wafer-thin" features.  Apps will inexorably grow more powerful, and it’s extraordinarily difficult to remove features, but we are taking real steps to make things better.


  • Re: "Consistent interfaces. Sweat the details. Designers notice how much you fake this crap."  That’s nice.  Have you noticed how much more aligned things became in CS3, and how much further that’s been taken in the CS4 betas now revealed?  We’re actively making things more consistent, and that will necessarily entail change, pain, and thus bitching.  So it goes.


  • Re: "Please allow cross-platform upgrades! Thanks to you, I can’t switch from PC to Mac :-("  Sure you can.  (How is word not getting out about this?)


  • I’m told that the requirement to close your browser during CS3 installation is related to a desire not to overwrite a color settings file that could be in use by Firefox.  I agree that it sucks, but at least you know the rationale.


  • In response to "You f___ing f___ers should be in jail just for calling that software," Caleb Belohlavek wrote, "Anyone who uses the f-bomb as an adjective and an noun together is tops in my book."  He also celebrated, "God help me, your the MILF of the software world. And I love you for it."  (I would have thought that some of our apps are GGILFs by now…)

[Via Joe Lencioni & others]

Recent motion graphics action

  • Guinness keeps producing terrific spots, now painting with light.  (How much do you want to get a bunch of friends together to try this?)
  • Luchador tennis!  Architecture in Helsinki’s new video gets animated using embroidery.
  • The titles for We’re Here to Help play with the visual language of government forms (with results groovier than that description would suggest). 

I can has monster laptop?

Lenovo has just trotted out the ThinkPad W700, a new portable (luggable?) machine geared towards pro photographers and graphic artists.  This warlock features:


  • Quad-core processor
  • Up to 8GB (!) of RAM
  • Up to three internal hard drives
  • Integrated screen calibrator
  • Mini Wacom tablet (!)
  • Both SD and CompactFlash card slots
  • 17" monitor with 24-bit Dream Color (2.3 million colors)
  • HDMI video output [Thanks to Bob Rose for the correction]
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX 3700


Adobe’s Robert McDaniels remarks, "With a 17min battery life and a mere 4" thick and 48lbs case, it also doubles as a space heater, pumping out 52K BTUs per min."  Reminds me of the similarly girthy ThinkPad I named "Battlepig" when I started on the Photoshop team.  I’m pretty fond of the Mac 17-inchers I’ve been rocking ever since then, but I’d love to see Apple answer the challenge (especially from the integrated tablet).  Engadget features more info and a video demo. [Via Tobias Hoellrich, from whom I snatched the subject line as well]


Apropos of absolutely nothing Adobe-related, happy 08-08-08!  I’m especially into the date as I was born at 10:08 on this day 33 years ago.  I celebrated my birthday on 8-8-88 watching the first Chicago Cubs night game on TV.  (It being the Cubbies, they got rained out.)  I’m told the series of 8’s is auspicious, so I wish you happiness, good fortune, and delightful pixel-wrangling.  And with that, I’m closing the computer to have some good times with the family here in Illinois.


I recently got word that I’ve been selected to receive an incredibly nice honor–induction into the Photoshop Hall of Fame.  I’ve hesitated to mention it for fear of sounding like a shameless little self promoter; on the other hand, it would be worse to seem ungrateful, so to all the folks at the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, thanks so much!  I am honored indeed.


I do feel kind of sheepish about this–not through any false modesty, but because there are dozens of incredibly talented, hard-working folks who’ve logged many more years than I have on the Photoshop team, and who right now continue to gut it out in all kinds of unglamorous ways.  I can flap my gums all day, but it’s their work that really makes the difference.  They deserve the credit and exposure, so maybe I can get cranking on some profiles so that you can get to know more of the peeps behind PS.  In the meantime, thanks, guys, for letting me represent you.




PS–Here’s a trippy little twist: having returned to O’Hare this morning to pick up luggage we’d abandoned at midnight (following an epic and awful rain-delayed flight with infant), I walked up behind none other than NAPP chiefs Scott Kelby and Dave Moser.  I got to thank them in person for the honor and to wish them good shooting as they teach Chicago Bears bigwigs about sports photography.

Photoshop Express adds new features

The peeps behind the Photoshop Express online image editor have been keeping busy, adding drag-and-drop upload, more printing and editing options, and more. According to Macworld,


A couple of the new updates use Adobe’s AIR technology. The Photoshop Express Uploader enables photo uploading from the desktop of any Internet-connected computer. AIR is also behind a feature that “bridges the real-time, dynamic capabilities of the Web with the computing power and data capabilities of the desktop computer,” according to Adobe.


Another handy feature is the ability to drag and drop photos directly from your photo application into Photoshop Express. Users can now also print photos through Shutterfly.


Dynamic slideshows can now have music created exclusively for Photoshop Express. For organizing, the addition of tags allows for easy viewing and searching by name, party, venue, subject and anything else you find useful.


A one-click Resize tool with presets for mobile, Web, e-mail or online Profiles is now available and you can now download photos from anyone’s public album and keep a collection of their favorites.


All of the new features are available immediately by logging into the Photoshop Express Web site.


Thursday Illustrations: Human mirrors & more