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Photoshop Elements 6

Photoshop Elements 6 – Editing, Creating, and Sharing

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Photoshop Elements 6

The Quick Selection Tool is one of my favorite new features.

Adobe product screen shot reprinted with permission from Adobe Systems Incorporated

Photoshop Elements 6 – New Editing Features

Photoshop Elements 6 borrows many features from Photoshop CS3. One of my favorites is the Quick Selection Tool, which lets you select an area by simply brushing an object with the tool. Elements will figure out where the edges of the object are and select them for you. You can then refine the edge selection if needed, but I found that Elements made very good guesses about which areas I wanted to select. The ability to accurately select objects is one of the keys to creating some pretty wild effects, so having an easy way to do this is great.

The Photomerge Panorama feature, which has been available for some time, lets you stick multiple images together to create breathtaking panoramas. Elements 6 adds two new Photomerge capabilities: Photomerge Groups and Photomerge Faces.

Photomerge Groups lets you combine multiple images of the same group, and select elements from each image to combine. The benefit of this is that you can select the best features from each shot and combine them into a single image that's better than the sum of its parts. Result? Everyone in the group is smiling for a change. No one is blinking, and with any luck, no one's head gets cut off.

Photomerge Faces provides an easy way to select facial features from unrelated images and combine them into a new image. Select the eyes from one photo, the mouth and nose from another, and Elements will combine them, smoothing the transition between the various parts. Ever wonder what you would look like with your dog's eyes and your cat's nose and mouth? Now you can find out.

Photoshop Elements 6 – Create

Backgrounds can spruce up vacation pics.

Adobe product screen shot reprinted with permission from Adobe Systems Incorporated

The Photoshop Elements 6 Create tab lets you use the images you've cleaned up (or just had fun with) to create greeting cards, photo books, collages, slide shows, web galleries, even CD or DVD jackets and labels. Each project offers step-by-step instructions to guide you.

In addition to projects, Elements includes a wide selection of artwork that you can combine with your images. You can choose one of many different backgrounds for an image, anything from a sandy beach to a winter scene.

You can also select frames to surround your images, or a theme to unite them. The Artwork section has so many possibilities that you may find yourself spending more time toying with your images than you ever thought possible. (Don't say I didn't warn you.) Selecting the right frame or background can make an image complete, or add a little punch. If you like to scrapbook, you can combine your photos with some of the supplied artwork to create themed scrapbook pages, such as holidays, vacations, pets, or hobbies.

Photoshop Elements 6 – Sharing

The last tab we'll explore is Share. Once you complete one or more image projects, you can share them with others. You can also, of course, just save your work, grab the file on your computer, and do whatever you want with it (send to a friend, upload to a web site, etc.) without using Elements.

Elements can automate some of the common methods of sharing one or more images. Select E-mail Attachments, and Elements will reduce the image's size, if needed, open your email application, create a blank email message, and add the image as an attachment, ready for you to send out. You can also turn your images into a web photo gallery; this is the same as using the Web Photo Gallery option in the Create tab. You can burn images to a DVD, or order prints from Kodak. Last but not least, you can export a PDF slideshow of selected images, a handy way to take a group of images with you in a single, easy-to-access file.

Photoshop Elements 6 – Wrap Up

You can save your edited images as a PDF slideshow.

Adobe product screen shot reprinted with permission from Adobe Systems Incorporated

Photoshop Elements 6 has loads of features that will appeal to both new and experienced users. It offers a wide selection of capabilities, yet manages to keep them well organized and easy to find.

Adobe Bridge may be an attractive choice for individuals who are looking for a good image management application, but who don't need the full-blown capabilities of Apple's Aperture or Adobe's Lightroom. If you would rather stick with iPhoto as your image organizer, you can simply set iPhoto to use Elements as its image editor.

The ability to switch back and forth between tabbed functions makes it easy to fine-tune an image or group of images. You'll appreciate the same ability to easily move around in the Edit tabs, as you jump between the Full, Quick, and Guided modes to perform your image edits.

Every application has a few irksome issues, but in Photoshop Elements they're mostly minor; none would prevent you from making good use of its tools and features. I didn't like the fact that Elements only works in full-screen mode, and I wasn't fond of the charcoal gray user interface. Despite these flaws, Elements performs well, is easy to use, and has an extensive collection of features that both novice and experienced photo editors can put to good use. Bottom line? I recommend putting Photoshop Elements 6 on your short list of image editing applications.

4 stars.

Reviewer’s Notes

  • A review copy of Photoshop Elements 6 was provided by Adobe.
  • Testing was performed on a 3 GHz 4-core Mac Pro with 6 GB of RAM.
  • I spent way too much time playing with images during the review.
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