Tag Archives: Photoshop

Microsoft and Adobe: Productivity and Platforms Companies Partner Closely

At Adobe’s Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles on October 6, officials announced a host of updates across their entire product line, and several new creative-focused apps and SDK.

One of the several themes in the conference was Adobe working hard to make their products work across all devices. In making this point, they demonstrated several products using iPhone, iPad and Surface Pro 3. The demo on Surface Pro 3 showed the full Illustrator application, not a scaled down touch app, working very well with touch and stylus while keeping the mouse functionality intact.

In a surprise, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella joined in the keynote, and in his company, Adobe demonstrated how well their applications worked with touch, vision and speech on a Surface Pro 3. The final demo was on a Perceptive Pixel display where they were able to show how multiple people can physically collaborate and work on a digital product together. This includes multi-hand, multi-touch manipulation of information on the large display.

Nadella’s presence was to drive home the point that Adobe is committed to making their software work on a variety of devices, enabling the creative professionals to be unshackled from the physical hardware they are working on, including 2-in-1 devices like Surface as well as large displays like the Perceptive Pixels. Narayen also made the point that Adobe wants to make sure their software works well by partnering with hardware and software makers and especially working very closely with companies like Microsoft.

Satya Nadells and Shantanu Narayen at Adobe MAX
Satya Nadells and Shantanu Narayen at Adobe MAX

From Microsoft’s perspective, Nadella focused on his four key mantras: mobile-first and cloud-first mentality in building software, along with the core philosophy at Microsoft which is to be the platform maker upon which others build as well as being at the forefront of productivity. For the audience at Adobe MAX, Nadella talked about how creative professionals can build upon the platform created by Adobe with enhanced productivity that a device like Surface Pro 3 provides in the form of native support of touch screen and stylus.

Adobe Illustrator on Surface Pro 3
Adobe Illustrator on Surface Pro 3
Adobe Photoshop on Surface Pro 3
Adobe Photoshop on Surface Pro 3

 

The collaboration between Microsoft and Adobe is very interesting because for the longest time, it seemed like Adobe would be a good acquisition target for Microsoft which builds platforms for developers and IT pros but lack a suite for the creative folks. However, it does seem like the two companies are ok working very closely with each other (building Adobe Flash into Metro Internet Explorer was another unrelated collaboration) rather than be part of one company. Perhaps Microsoft realized that Adobe is the leader across a variety of software catered to creative professionals and it is best to court them and work closely with them.

Finally, in an Oprah moment, Nadella announced that all the attendees at Adobe MAX would be receiving a Surface Pro 3 along with Office 365 which includes 1TB of cloud storage. Surprisingly, this announcement received a standing ovation!

The Surface Family Evolves: Where Does It Go from Here?

On May 20, Microsoft officials announced the latest entry in the family of Surface devices, the Surface Pro 3. This device is a larger form with many updates to the existing pro device, the Surface Pro 2, and comes only eight months since the launch of the Surface Pro 2. So now, Microsoft has launched three generations of Surface in the span of less than two years, being incredible for a company which only recently pivoted to devices and services from software.

Surface Pro 3
Surface Pro 3

The launch of Surface Pro 3 however raised several questions: why isn’t there a Surface 3 (the ARM-based version) to complement the Surface Pro 3? Why also, didn’t the much-rumored Surface Mini launch alongside the Surface Pro 3? What is the goal of these Surface devices, according to Microsoft?

 

Where is Windows RT?

The first two questions have a common thread, and that is Windows RT. The ARM-based version of Windows has had very little success both from OEM adoption as well as sales perspectives. OEMs have slowly been pulling out of making such devices, and with Nokia’s devices group now a part of Microsoft, Microsoft is the only company that makes Windows RT devices. The operating systems group at Microsoft is undergoing some level of consolidation and transformation, and there is a possibility of some fundamental changes coming to the Windows RT OS as it merges with Windows Phone OS. It would be somewhat silly to offer a Windows RT device that may need some major updates in a few months when the operating system makes potentially big underlying changes. Also, let’s not forget that Nokia also makes a Windows RT device (Lumia 2520) which may now become a contender to be the only Windows RT device Microsoft produces. Hence, the lack of ARM-based Surface at this point in time.

 

No room for Surface Mini

Surface Mini on the other hand, has a bigger issue. The rumors were that it would be an 8” device and regardless of whether it was going to be an Intel-based device or an ARM-based device, it would really offer no differentiation from the several other 8” Windows devices in the market today. All of the existing devices are Intel-based and as a result, are able to run old Windows desktop programs just fine. Most of these existing devices are also priced at the very low end and as a result, Microsoft would have to start competing on the low end which I am not sure they want to do. There are also rumors that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and the new devices chief Stephen Elop decided to remove that device from the announcement for precisely that reason – it offered no differentiation from whatever else is out there in the market. If that is in fact the case, I commend them for doing so since it is not easy to change directions this way and at the last moment.

 

Who is the Surface for? What does Surface mean for Microsoft?

That brings us to the last question – what is the role of Surface devices? Microsoft executives have constantly said that Surface is not meant to compete with the OEMs but instead be a reference design for OEMs. However, the huge write-off Microsoft took at the end of the past fiscal year related to excess inventory of the original Surface shows that at least someone at Microsoft expected to sell these devices in larger volumes.

The Surface Pro 3 is indeed unlike anything else in the market today, both from a Windows devices perspective as well as the competition’s devices. There are Android tablets of all shapes and sizes that are selling quite well, but they are limited to a maximum of 10” form factor, and while there have been rumors of an “iPad Pro” sporting a larger display than the current iPad, those have been simply rumors. At the launch event, Microsoft made the point that the Surface Pro 3 is aimed squarely at the laptop user (there were a *lot* of MacBook Air comparisons) rather than the tablet user. The viewpoint they provided was that most of the iPad customers also have or buy a laptop, so why not make a device that can do both the tasks well? The Surface Pro 3 specifications are obviously more “computer”-like than “tablet”-like, starting with the processor which is not an Atom variant but in fact, it is a Core processor. At the same time, it is so much lighter than a laptop – even MacBook Air that they compared to at the event – that you could see yourself using it as a tablet every so often.

The Surface Pro 3 pricing is in line with a mid- to high-end laptop, depending on the configuration you choose. You could get the entry-level model with a Core i3 processor and 64GB storage for $799 and the highest-end model with a Core i7 processor and 512GB storage for $1,949. Both the ends of that spectrum are higher than the average for a Windows laptop with similar specifications.

Another example to understand where Microsoft is going with this family of devices is the included (and completely re-done) pen. There is a deep integration built into the pen which enables the customer to launch OneNote even when the screen is locked. The OneNote emphasis shows not just the integration aspects but also the intended, or expected, use of the device.

 

Surface Pro 3 Numbers
Surface Pro 3 Numbers

The screen at an excellent 2160×1440 resolution, the aspect ratio which is a much better 3:2 than 16:9, the higher power processor and the pricing all point to a realization at Microsoft that it is better to compete with the laptop than with the iPad. Think creative professionals like artists, medical professionals, or the “information worker” in corporations. Think students on a budget, who have the funds to buy only one device which needs to be their television, book reader as well as productivity tool. These are the customers Microsoft seems to be aiming at with their Surface Pro devices now.

So Microsoft is clearly going for the laptop user and giving that user the choice of using that device as a tablet. They know that the OEMs are able to compete at the low-end, especially with the recent announcement of making Windows free for 9” and lower screens. Knowing that Apple has consistently outsold Windows in the PC sales for the past several years, it makes sense for Microsoft to address the high margin area so they don’t have to sell extremely large volumes in order to justify the business.

I still expect Microsoft to release the mini tablet, and there are multiple possibilities there too: a productivity mini tablet which would have the upcoming touch version of Office (codename Gemini); a larger phablet-style device like the Lumia 1520 and of course, a gaming-oriented mini tablet with some type of Xbox brand and tie-in. All of those have dependencies that need to be addressed before these products can come to market in order to differentiate themselves from the competition.

There is an empirical truth to Microsoft products: by version 3, they perfect the product. Surface Pro 3 surely looks like a “perfect” product, we will see if the market agrees with Microsoft or not. The Surface business has steadily grown in volume and with Windows 8.1, Microsoft may have enough to get CIOs interested in upgrading to Windows 8.1. If so, there is a large-sized market opportunity that is for Microsoft to dominate, given their past relationships and reputation in the enterprise. If that happens, it may create the virtuous cycle that Microsoft has been able to create in the past with Windows and even now with Office. Many will use these devices in school and workplace and would like to continue that experience at home.

Microsoft certainly seems to demonstrate that it is in the devices market for the long run. Naturally, mastering manufacturing cannot happen overnight. It is now up to the customers to decide if all of that is worth it, by speaking with their wallets.

Are you interested in the Surface Pro 3? Were you disappointed by the absence of the Surface Mini? Sound off in the comments below.

(All images and the video, courtesy Microsoft’s official websites)

Adobe Updates Photoshop and Illustrator CS6 with Retina Display

Today, Adobe has updated both Photoshop CS6 and Illustrator CS6 for the Retina displays found on Apple’s latest MacBook Pro models.

With this update, customers can see more detail in images, text, and in the Illustrator user interface when working on high-resolution displays, including the new Retina display available on MacBook Pro. The HiDPI feature in Illustrator is currently only available on Mac OS. It is expected to be available in the future on additional operating systems.

The updates are available for both Creative Cloud subscribers and owners with standalone licenses.

Easily Cut Out Pictures Using PaintdotNet

One of our readers posed a question to me yesterday and I thought that I would share the answer with all of you. The reader had been scanning scrapbook pages and wanted to know how they could separate the scanned pages into individual pictures. There are hundreds of ways to do this, however, I would like to show you how I would accomplish something like it. Plus, I have a free program suggestion, which makes this tutorial that much better!

The first thing we need to do is download a free program called Paint.Net. This is a pretty nifty program. Here is a little blurb from their website to give you a little background on the program.

It started development as an undergraduate college senior design  project  mentored by Microsoft, and is currently being maintained by some of the alumni that originally worked on it. Originally intended as a free replacement for the  Microsoft Paint  software that comes with Windows, it has grown into a powerful yet simple image and photo editor tool.

Once you have the program downloaded and installed on your computer, open up an image. In this tutorial, I am going to copy a piece of a picture and paste it into a new picture. Let’s say, for example, I want to cut my picture out below and make a thumbnail of my head.

Image In Paint.Net

If you look on the left side of the screen, there is a floating toolbar. Here, you will find lots of really cool tools you can use to edit your picture. Let’s find the “rectangle select” tool. You can see it highlighted in the image below.

Rectangle Select

Click the “rectangle Select” tool. Click and drag over the area of the picture that you would like to cut out. In the image below, you can see where I highlighted the area around my face.

Selected Area

In this tutorial, I don’t want to crop this picture because that would affect the original image, which I want to keep as-is. What I want to do is create a new image from the selected area above. To do this, I need to copy the selected area. Click the edit menu, as pictured below, and select copy from the menu.

Select Copy

Now, here is the really cool part. Let’s click the “New”  button in the upper left corner of the screen. Paint.Net actually recognizes the size of the image that you copied onto the clipboard. Notice in the picture below, there is a dialog box that pops up with image size already filled in.

New

Once you click OK, there will be a blank picture perfectly sized for the image that is on the clipboard. Now, all you have to do is go to edit and click paste, as pictured below.

Paste

There you have it! The selected area from the original picture is now a separate picture. I will point out that if you look in the top right corner of the screen, there are thumbnail images that show you all the images you have open. See the image below for an example.

Thumbnails

Paint.Net is one of the easiest image editors I have ever used. I hope to do more tutorials soon. It has a lot of the functionality of Photoshop, but it also is intuitive for people used to using Microsoft products. Since it’s free, you can’t beat the price.

Please feel free to comment or ask questions. It’s always nice to hear from our readers. Please take a moment to share us with your friends as well.

Creating a “Loading…” Animated GIF Using Photoshop [Video Tutorial]

In web designing, it is very much necessary for designers to be creative and use different techniques to attract a viewer, and we have seen most websites using animated GIF images to drive attention. In this tutorial, we’ll take a look at the Photoshop animation feature which can be used to create animated GIF image.

Note: In this tutorial, I am using Photoshop CS 5

Final Preview

Here’s a final preview of what you will be creating –

"Loading..." Photoshop Tutorial

Step One:

Draw the outline (circumference) of a circle, like the one shown below.

"Loading..." Photoshop Tutorial

Step Two:

Using the Polygon Lasso tool, slice a part of the circle. In other words, create an arc. You should obtain the following shape:

"Loading..." Photoshop Tutorial

Once done, delete the rest of the circle. We don’t need it anymore.

Step 3:

Create three additional copies of the arc (i.e., by duplicating it) by pressing Ctrl + J. Arrange the four arcs in such a way, that it appears like a (broken) circle. Go to Edit > Transform > Rotate 180/90 CW/90 CCW

"Loading..." Photoshop Tutorial

Step 4:

The steps from here are quite tricky and confusing. Hence, the rest of this tutorial is shown in the video below:

Gradient Color used:  b2e10f

I hope you have followed the tutorial carefully and  accomplished  the end result. After you saved the file, make sure you open it in the browser to view it.

Creating HDR Images with Photoshop, Quick and Easy

High Dynamic Range-technique (HDR) is a photography technique that is achieved by shooting two or more standard photographs, taken at different exposure levels, and then merging them together into an HDR image. The merging of these photos can be done with the help of photo editing tools such as Photoshop and Photomatix.

HDR can create extremely beautiful pictures that highlight the viewer’s perspectives, which can make the picture, look more realistic.

In this tutorial you will learn how to create or transform your pictures into HDR by tuning them with the help of Adobe Photoshop. Unlike the actual HDR technique, this Photoshop trick will require only a single JPEG image. You don’t have to shoot into RAW images or take multiple photos.

Note: In this tutorial, I’m using Photoshop CS5 (CS4 compatible), so there might be a few changes with regard to menu options if you are working with CS3 or lesser.

You may also be interested in the following  related posts:

End Result

HDR Photoshop Tutorial

Step 1

Open the image that you want to convert to HDR

HDR Photoshop Tutorial

Step 2

Go to Image -> Adjustments and click on Shadow/Highlights. Set the Shadow and Highlights to 45-50%

HDR Photoshop Tutorial

Step 3

Now, duplicate the layer by pressing Ctrl + J on PC. Desaturate the duplicated layer by pressing Shit + Ctrl + U (Or Image -> Adjustments and click on Desaturate). After that, change the layer blending to Hard Light

HDR Photoshop Tutorial

Step 4

You’re almost there. Now to make the picture look more realistic, let’s add extra colors to it. Duplicate the base (original) layer again, and move it on top of the other layers as shown below.

HDR Photoshop Tutorial

Next, go to Filter -> Blur and select Gaussian Blur, and set the Radius to around 35 pixels. Now, change the layer blending to Soft Light.

HDR Photoshop Tutorial

Step 5

You’re done. If you’re not satisfied with the effect, then you can redo the above steps to give your image a strong effect.

HDR Photoshop Tutorial

P.S. The image used in  demonstrating  this  tutorial  was shot by me sometime back. I request you to link back to my Flickr page or this tutorial if in case you are using it elsewhere.

Make GIMP Look Like Adobe Photoshop

GIMP does not behave like Adobe Photoshop but we can sure make it look like Photoshop! That will help Adobe Photoshop users switch between GIMP and Photoshop easily and provide for an easier user-interface.

The default GIMP layout is loathed by many given how misplaced the different windows appear. The utility panels will be unified from GIMP 2.8 but until then, we will have separate windows for each panel.

However, this YouTube video shows a cool tweak to make your GIMP appear like Photoshop. Enjoy.

Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill Rant Finally Matches GIMP’s Age Old Feature

On one hand, when the whole Internet is going crazy about the new feature of  “Content Aware Fill” in the latest Photoshop available with Adobe CS5, Gimp, which has had this feature, is remaining quiet.

The latest feature in Photoshop was demoed by Photoshop product manager Bryan O’Neil Hughes. You can see the  Content Aware Fill preview video on Youtube. Basically, with this new feature, we can remove an object from an image safely. Photoshop will automatically create a background with a suitable fill.

Apart from that Photoshop features many new selection technologies and texture generation algorithms. According to the countdown on the homepage, the release is due 19 days from now.

Resynthesizer in Gimp has had this feature from a long time. Add the Gimp resynthesizer to your Gimp with the command:

sudo apt-get install gimp-resynthesizer

Joey at OMG!Ubuntu has posted images of how well this feature works in Gimp. The object removed here is a tree which is definitely harder to remove than regular shapes.

(Via: OMG!Ubuntu)

10 Worst Photoshop Disasters

Have you ever wondered whether the oh-so-impeccable images that you see in posters and magazines are real? Many of these perfect shots have been retouched, or “airbrushed” using Photoshop before being unveiled for the whole world to see. However, sometimes these manual manipulations go a little too far. This post will be taking you through some of the worst Photoshop disasters in recent times.

Disaster #10: Head or pelvis? Which is smaller? I dare not hope for either.

Disaster #9: Whose arm is it anyway? Julianne Moore may have lost her clothes but she sure has made up for it with a very flexible right arm, not to mention the perfect legs.

Disaster #8: Talk about entwined legs!

Disaster #7: What happened to all the water?

Disaster #6: Who said that working out was the only way you could get a six-pack?

Disaster #5: Looks like it was a bad hair day.

Disaster #4: Warning! Do not splash into unknown waters. You may have your face transplanted.

Disaster #3: Talk about generating crowds!

Disaster #2: Oh, you have to crane your neck to spot this one!

Disaster #1: And finally, at the top (or in this case, bottom) of the list we have: Two sunsets for the price of one! Can there be a better holiday package?

These were only a few of them. Know of more Photoshop disasters? Let us know!

[pictures from Photoshop Disasters]

Photoshop.com App for iPhone Now Available Worldwide

The hugely popular Photoshop.com app for iPhone is now be available Worldwide in the iTunes app store. The nifty iPhone/iTouch app has been downloaded over 3 million times since it’s launch (our coverage of 1 million downloads) in US and Canada. With the worldwide release we expect it to notch up a few millions more in near short time.

For more information on the App, visit the Photoshop mobile page. You can download the app by searching for Photoshopin the App Store.

Photoshop.com Mobile for iPhone Available Worldwide [Adobe Blogs]