About fifteen years ago, I picked up my first copy of Adobe Photoshop (Version 4.0). I taught myself the basics and scoured the internet for tutorials (which were few and far between back then). When I went back to school a number of years ago, I upgraded to version 7.0 and was amazed by the new features. I don’t claim to have any great skill. I just fiddle around with it when I need some images. Lately, that mostly involves cropping, resizing, and a little color correction.

Recently, I upgraded to Photoshop CS6 Extended (v13.0 by the old numbering system). Wow! I knew there had been substantial breakthroughs in the last six versions but I am really blown away. Not only is everything faster, more streamlined, and easier to use, there are also quite a number of fantastic new additions. If you are in school and qualify for the educational discount, I strongly recommend picking it up while you can.

I’m not really the best one to describe these innovations, but here is a comparison page, detailing the differences between the various versions. The really big changes seem to be the new Mercury engine (blindingly fast), 3D graphics, video editing, and content-aware manipulation (the magic behind the last image below).

None of this really has anything to do with D&D, but I thought I’d share what was stealing me away from blogging recently. Here is a sample that I threw together in far less time than it took me to write this:

Original

This is an image of my mom’s backyard, through a window. As you can see, it’s a pretty poor image.

Cleaned up a bit

I adjusted the levels, brightness, and contrast to improve the quality of the picture.

Chameleon Squirrel

This is the real magic of Photoshop. In a matter of seconds I selected the squirrel and changed its color. Given a little time, I could have made a better selection and created a much more realistic image.

Poof! He’s Gone

My favorite addition in PS CS6 are the content-aware tools. What I did here is select the squirrel and perform a content-aware fill of the selection. Photoshop did all the work. It looked at the area around the selection and created the content used to fill the area. Again, this was done in a matter of seconds and it really shows. Given a little time, I could have made a better selection and created an image that looked completely realistic. A close look will show various anomalies here, but it shows what is possible.