Painting and Retouching
Photoshop has never been known for its painting abilities, so one of Adobe's priorities for Photoshop 7 was to overhaul the program's painting engine. To that end, Adobe enlisted programmer Jerry Harris, codeveloper of the Mac's first color painting program, PixelPaint. The results are some of Photoshop 7's most impressive new features--not just for artists, but for anyone who uses a brush, whether it's to retouch, mask, dodge, or smear.
Painting Tools With Photoshop 6, Adobe axed the floating Brushes palette. In version 7, they've brought it back (with its old keyboard shortcut, F5) and put it on steroids. The revised Brushes palette features multiple panels and more than 50 new settings and variables; combined, they give you new levels of control over your brushstrokes (see "A Better Brush" below). Although they're not as powerful as those in Procreate's Painter 7 (800/772-6735, www.procreate.com), Photoshop 7's painting tools let you easily create effects you couldn't in previous versions of the program. For example, you can now add jitter to your brushes, spread paint droplets, mix foreground and background colors, paint textured strokes, and scale custom brushes. Most brush parameters respond to input from pressure-sensitive tablets. Photoshop 7 even introduces support for more-sophisticated stylus input such as tilt and thumbwheel, bringing the program up-to-speed with the present generation of tablets from Wacom (800/922-9348, www.wacom.com).
Of course, all these settings take some getting used to. Fortunately, the bottom of the Brushes palette includes a live preview window, so you can immediately see the effect of different parameters on your brush. The program also ships with hundreds of brush presets, so you can start painting without having to set your own.
The Healing Tools Photographers and designers who find themselves spending a lot of time laboriously fixing scratches, blemishes, and other imperfections with Photoshop's Stamp tool will appreciate Photoshop 7's two new cloning tools, the Healing brush and the Patch tool. They provide quicker, more-consistent results for basic touch-ups.
Like the Stamp tool, the Healing brush clones pixels to cover up flaws. But instead of copying colors from one portion of an image and applying them to another, the Healing brush clones only the texture, drawing the color from the area around the imperfection (see "Brush Me, Heal Me" later in this story). This makes the tool well suited to touching up wrinkles and other facial imperfections, since the color in such areas may be fine even though the texture needs to be fixed. The Patch tool performs the same function as the Healing brush, but it lets you select large areas for healing rather than manually brushing on the effect. Neither tool will take away all the mundane work of retouching photos, but by sampling color and texture independently, Photoshop is often able to create patches that appear entirely consistent with their surroundings.
Good-bye, Airbrush Some longtime users will be surprised by the disappearance of the Airbrush tool from the toolbox. The Airbrush feature is now available to painting and editing tools via a toggle in the Options bar. This means that you can use any brush to lay down a continuous stream of color, even when you hold the cursor still--useful when you want to gradually build up color for an effect such as dodging. You can also control the rate at which an effect flows, analogous to the old Airbrush tool's Pressure setting.A Better Brush The reinstated Brushes palette contains eight panels, 50 new options, and a wealth of presets. A large preview window at the bottom of the palette shows you how your creation will look.