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What Makes Photoshop So Expensive?

Create 3D Images and Scenes

The extended version of Photoshop CS5 includes 3D tools with which you can turn 2D images into 3D objects, manipulate their shape and position, apply textures, add lights, and render out a high-quality, color-managed image. However, the feature requires a fairly powerful graphics card to work. The Nvidia GeForce 8400M GS in our test laptop didn’t qualify and even with the ATI Radeon HD 4600 in our test desktop rendering wasn’t fast. Adobe also suggests working in 64-bit on a PC or Mac. Photoshop falls back to software-only rendering but this wasn’t always successful with the beta software. 

The 3D widget in the corner lets you control the X, Y and Z axes for 3D objects, cameras, meshes and lights.

The 3D widget in the corner lets you control the X, Y and Z axes for 3D objects, cameras, meshes and lights.

For simple 3D, you can take text and vector objects (for the best results they need to be on their own layer) and use the Repoussé effect to extrude them into 3D. This gives you a significant range of controls such as being able to change from a simple 3D version to dragging the object through 3D space, bending it in the middle, or twisting it around itself, applying textures to every surface independently, and controlling lighting effects.

Drag the positions of cameras and lights directly.

Drag the positions of cameras and lights directly.

Photoshop Extended will make some common 3D shapes, so you can wrap a photo around a wine bottle as a label. If you have a proper 3D model with which to work that you have built up in layers, you can style every element, choose the texture and the color of the texture, set the lights, and control the reflections. Applying photos as textures means you can get a 3D look with realistic images and you can use a photograph to mimic the lighting of a real scene–impressively, it works for HDR images.  For speed, you can work with a basic level of rendering and switch to the final, high-quality version when you’re done.

Create some standard 3D shapes and use your image as the surface.

Create some standard 3D shapes and use your image as the surface.

Once you get beyond Repoussé and making standard shapes, you need to learn how to use the 3D features in Photoshop. This is where the features are definitely aimed at professional designers who need powerful control rather than simplicity.

You can put a texture on individual pieces of a 3D model – this image will be distorted to fit the screen.

You can put a texture on individual pieces of a 3D model – this image will be distorted to fit the screen.

Textures are all very well, but Photoshop lets you change the color of a texture for fine control.

Textures are all very well, but Photoshop lets you change the color of a texture for fine control.
  • mitch074
    Nice. Photoshop sure is quite the package.

    However, I wonder why, along with all the tools you cite, there is no mention made of the Gimp...? After all, it is available on Windows, Mac and Linux, it doesn't cost a dime, and it also includes:
    - HDR effects (in script-fu): Tone Mapping and Exposure Blend
    - painting effects (programmable brushes)
    - GEGL (yes, 3D in Gimp)
    - lens correction

    Now, all of these aren't as advanced nor are they as easy to use as the Photoshop versions, but they are here and they work. For free.
    Reply
  • marybranscombe
    Mitch - to fit in as much information about Photoshop CS5, I only had room to mention a tiny fraction of all the image editing tools out there ;) I'm quite a fan of Paint.Net and Irfanview, personally...
    Reply
  • cruelacid
    The Gimp also had content aware fill years ago in a plugin called Resynthesizer.

    Reply
  • mitch074
    Paint.NET, iPhoto, WL Photo Gallery are not exactly professional-grade applications - while the Gimp (with colour profile management capabilities, layers-based approach, programmable filters, vector graphics capabilities, advanced stylus management, etc.) is, actually, used by some professionals... And a direct competitor to Photoshop.

    Thus why I found its absence (Paint.NET isn't quite there yet, it does have the merit of being free for use -but not open source- ) a bit surprising.
    Reply
  • Traciatim
    "Digital SLRs let you save files not just as JPEGs but in a RAW . . . "

    So does my point and shoot from 2002 . . . and (I believe all new) Interchangeable Lens Digital Cameras, and lots of point and shoots available today. You could have just said "Many Digital Cameras" rather than implying that Digital SLRs do something that other cameras don't, which is not true.
    Reply
  • marybranscombe
    Traciatim - true, but 1) the CS5 emphasis is very much on the DSLRs judging by the minimal list of cameras covered by the cusotm lens correction (and Adobe refers to only 275 cameras whose RAW formats are supported) and 2) my feeling is usually that point and shoot cameras with small lenses and sensors tend to need the in-camera processing to deliver good images
    Reply
  • cadder
    Photoshop is the ultimate consumer image editing tool. There are lesser tools sold by Adobe that will do for most people with digital cameras, and they are a lot less expensive- Photoshop Elements and Photoshop Lightroom. Of course Gimp and Irfanview are much cheaper options than that for the average person too.
    Reply
  • anthropophaginian
    If it was for sale for half-price $300, I doubt sales would double. The same universities and design companies would buy it, but it would still be out of many consumers' price range. At this price range, with spreading of costs the time saved and final quality of the product will justify the price.

    ...Also you're paying for the ostentatious value.
    Reply
  • punditguy
    Student discount FTW! Adobe Creative Suite Design Standard, $299 at Amazon. Won't be available until June 30, though...
    Reply
  • Tomsguiderachel
    Traciatim"Digital SLRs let you save files not just as JPEGs but in a RAW . . . " So does my point and shoot from 2002 . . . and (I believe all new) Interchangeable Lens Digital Cameras, and lots of point and shoots available today. You could have just said "Many Digital Cameras" rather than implying that Digital SLRs do something that other cameras don't, which is not true.I would argue that most point and shoots today do not offer RAW. And, most interchangeable lens cameras ARE DSLRs (not all).
    Reply