Adobes CS4 Master Suite is the definitive productivity compilation
Adobe’s CS4 Master Suite is
the definitive productivity compilation
By Michael Lafferty
It’s a bit pricey, but considering the content, if you are serious about image management or Web or desktop publishing, this is the product to have
When it comes to solid computer programs that unleash the creative and productivity-based juices, while there are several good one, few carry the weight of Adobe. The company has set a standard by which so many others are judged. And while Adobe has programs that run in concert with desktops and laptops in ways many do not realize (like Flash), the top dog in the Adobe lineup is Photoshop.
If you want to do serious photo-editing, you need to use a serious editing tool, and the new Photoshop CS4 is not only a tool that will sate the needs of professionals, but also is easy enough that even novices will be able to find their way around the program and achieve success with it.
The good folks over at Adobe sent over a copy a the CS4 Master Suite and it is the ultimate program set for those who work with photos, illustrations, page production or on the Web. Why? Because the program not only contains the latest and greatest version of Photoshop, but Dreamweaver, Illustrator and InDesign – programs that can take care of any imaging needs as well as publication desires.
Of course, there is much more to the master suite. It also comes with Acrobat 9 Pro, After Effects, Encore, Fireworks, Soundbooth, and Flash Professional, among the many arms. Central to it all is the program Bridge, which does exactly what the name implies. Bridge is a great tool that enables users to locate folders of images, organize them into specific groups and then open them with other programs.
It needs to be stated that this collection of high-end productivity software is not to be taken lightly, nor is it for the casual user. If you are looking for a program to get red-eye out of your digital images, while you can with this collection, you can find something much less expensive and easier to use. The Adobe Master Suite collection is for the serious user, who either knows how to manipulate images or is looking to do so. The Photoshop CS4 application will not only allow for a broad expanse of creative expression (the developers of the game Guild Wars actually do conceptual art in Photoshop), but is a solid 3D tool that has amazing lightly effects, brings reflective surfaces into play and is a dynamic imaging tool.
If you are a user of older versions of the Adobe products, you will notice the interface changes, and may have to reacquaint yourself with the layout. Once you figure it out, though, everything is in easy reach and the layer overlays are a definite plus.
There are some new elements within Photoshop that make photo-editing much more intriguing. There is context-sensitive scaling and a new depth-of-field tool that will allow you to vary focus depths when combining images. And CS4 has the ability to run in a 64-bit version, which allows for great details, and much larger image sizes.
Other upgrades to Photoshop include the integration with OpenGL graphics cards. If you enable OpenGL, you can zoom in and out of a project effortlessly and without those jaggy outlines you would get otherwise. The program has also done a very nice job when it comes to making 3D imaging accessible. You can take a two-dimensional logo, overlay it onto some of the canned 3D objects and without much fuss you have a three-dimensional object. It’s so easy it is almost criminal.
Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve if you are new to Photoshop or have not upgraded in a long while. But the dev team has created a lot of palettes that make tools handy. Get into the routine and you will find your work time cut down substantially.
The overall Master Suite package includes, as mentioned, Dreamweaver and InDesign, and like all of the applications included here (which includes several substantial Macromedia applications) are collectively integrated to allow users to transition from one application to another with ease. You can pull up a folder in Bridge and then pull up an image in another application without having to jump back into your program files and find the one you wish to use. This is a huge plus. Dreamweaver, for those who may not know, is a Web design program, while InDesign was Adobe’s answer to desktop publishing along the lines of QuarkXPress.
Illustrator, mentioned above, is a big bonus to this package of programs. It is one of the major art programs used in graphic design.
The Master Suite comes with a hefty price tag, but considering the depth of the content, those who are serious about desktop publishing – whether for the Web or for print – would be hard-pressed to find a better collection of programs under one roof.