After years of making do with homegrown programs, Web designers have received a flurry of powerful Web graphics tools. While Adobe ImageReady and Macromedia Fireworks have drawn most of the attention, the most impressive release of the lot may be Adobe ImageStyler, an easy-to-use Web graphics program that can be a vital addition to any Web designer’s toolbox.
It’s All about Objects
ImageStyler doesn’t let you create graphics pixel by pixel. Instead, you place such objects as EPS graphics, bitmapped image files, and text on a pasteboard. When you’re finished, you can export the graphics in a variety of Web formats.
Once you’ve placed an object in ImageStyler, you can apply up to five layers of transformations. You can control an object’s color or opacity; apply a 3-D bevel or emboss effect; distort, shift, or blur the image; and much more. For example, to create a drop shadow, you add a new layer, shift its position, change its color to black, apply a blur, and reduce the opacity. Once you’ve done this, the drop-shadow effect will be consistent even if you change your object’s size or shape, or replace it with a different object.
ImageStyler is billed as a tool for businesspeople and others who are not graphics professionals. However, the program’s cornucopia of controls will appeal more to graphics pros than to casual users, who may find the many settings too complicated. Still, ImageStyler doesn’t leave less advanced users behind. Its Styles palette contains dozens of preformatted styles, each containing multiple, multilayered effects. A Textures palette lets you quickly apply textures. A Shapes palette provides several dozen EPS objects that can serve as the basis for buttons and other elements.
Another time-saving feature is the ability to make an alias of an objecta duplicate that retains the original object’s attributes. You can modify an object’s shape or color and see the change immediately applied to that object’s aliases.
ImageStyler’s most innovative feature may be HTML batch-replacement, which lets you replace HTML-styled text with graphics containing the same text. For example, if you have an old Web site containing ugly headers that use the style, ImageStyler can search the HTML code for that style, pick out the text, generate a graphic using that text, and replace the header with a reference to the new image.