Adobe Announces Photoshop 5 | WebReference

Adobe Announces Photoshop 5

Adobe Announces Photoshop 5.0

By Daniel Giordan

[April 27, 1998] Adobe Systems took the wraps off a new version of Photoshop today, announcing version 5.0 as an upgrade from the previous version 4.01. Photoshop 5 has a host of new features centered around enhanced color support, multiple undo capabilities, and advanced type handling features. Although the product was officially announced today, Adobe will not begin shipping until after May 15. Hang onto your hats though, because the new features under the hood of Photoshop 5 are well worth the wait.

New Color Features Create Consistency

Photoshop 5 offers a host of new color features, including advanced RGB color matching, CIE color profile embedding for RGB, CMYK, and LAB, and grayscale color information, and new color space conversion tools that make things easier as they add additional control. The result will be more consistent color from system to system, in both RGB and CMYK colorspaces.

Another interesting feature of Photoshop 5 is support for 16 bit/channel color. This means each pixel can contain 16 bits of data, delivering well over the 16 million colors we¹re used to using with standard 24 bit color systems. Although some scanners can capture 16 bit data, keep in mind that your monitor can only display 8 bit info. This means that even though your file may contain more subtle color information, your monitor can't show it to you. While that may sound silly, but it's not. It's significant in that Photoshop still uses the extra color information to create smoother gradients, and to deliver more color flexibility when converting images from one color space to another.

As a result you will be able to trust the colors on screen more than ever. You will also be able to capture and convert images with a wider color gamut than with traditional 8-bit systems.

Top-Notch Type Features

The oldest complaint from Photoshop users was that it was a pain in the butt to work with type. In the old days before layers, you were foolish even to place type in your image since it was cast in cement the second it was created. Even when layers came along, the cumbersome methods for creating type layers and tweaking the placement kept people going to drawing or layout programs to place their type effects. Photoshop 5 is going to make us rethink those old habits.

Adobe has given us a few new type tools, including a vertical type tool, a type mask tool, and a vertical type mask tool. But the really significant improvements are in the Type Tool dialog box. You can adjust the Leading, Kerning, Baseline placement, and even select a color from the dialog itself. (If I had a dollar for every time I had to cancel this dialog in 4.0 to select another color ...)

But wait, there's more. If you check the Preview box in the type tool dialog, you can see the type on screen before you click out of the dialog. You can change these parameters to your heart¹s content! Not only that, but when you move your cursor into the main window, it changes to the move tool cursor and you can even reposition the type, dragging it around the screen. Thank you Adobe...thank you, thank you, thank you.

One last type feature is that type layers remain editable long after exiting the dialog box. Once you click OK in the dialog and place the type, you can double-click the layer at any time to modify the type settings. You can create multiple font sizes and styles, correct spellings, and do whatever you want. Imagine being able to try out font, size, and style variations on different layers, clicking them on and off to compare them, and changing them at any time as needed. If this were the only upgrade in the box, it would be well worth the price.

The History Palette

The new history palette in Photoshop 5 is going to confuse some people. It's not difficult... it's just different, and it'll take some getting used to. The purpose of the history palette is to allow you to go back and restore any previous iteration of your image. In other words, it allows the ability to preform multiple undos, a feature Photoshop users have been begging for for a long time.

Each time you preform an action, Photoshop saves an iteration of that image state in the history palette. Create a path, delete an anchor point, apply a filter, and the state of the image for that modification is recorded in the palette. You can go back to it at anytime by selecting that tile in the palette. If you only want a portion of the image restored, there is a history brush that paints back image information from the selected state in the history palette.

To give a sense of how it works, let's contrast it with how we achieved similar effects before 5.0 came along. We would save different states of the image in different places in Photoshop. Save a state to the clipboard, another as a snapshot, and maybe another as a pattern. Then choose the rubber stamp tool and paint back the previous states by changing the source as you went. Well Photoshop 5 now lets you save an unlimited number of image states in one place, and you can restore them with a brush or as an entire image.

The Tip of the Iceberg

While these improvements are significant, Adobe went even further by updating additional features in just about every area of the application. At the time of this writing, Adobe has added 103 distinct enhancements or new features to the program. These range from new layer effects, a 3D filter, task wizards, and a nifty channel mixer for color corrections. The new additions run deep, and it'll take a long time to find them all.

Version 5 will be a revision that people will remember for some time, similar to the jump from 2.5 to 3.0, when Adobe added the Layers functions. In just a short time we¹ll be sitting around wondering how we ever lived without the type enhancements and the history palette. Plus, Adobe still has a week or so from today's announce date to tweak things further. Who knows what they might come up with between now and then?

The scary thing is that no other program has challenged Photoshop¹s market dominance, even in its 4.0 state. Now Adobe raises the bar even further, creating a delta that¹s going to be even harder to bridge. Oh sure some programs are cheaper or address a niche solution, but for depth and a full feature set, Adobe Photoshop 5.0 is the hands down choice.

by Daniel Giordan (

Produced by Daniel Giordan and
All Rights Reserved. Legal Notices.
Created: Apr. 26, 1998
Revised: May 14, 1998