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Photoshop CS4 Adjustments and Masks Panels & Tools

PhotoshopR CS4 has two new panels and many enhancements that will make your work easier. You will especially like the new brush previews.

The new Adjustments panel is a consolidation of the image adjustments tools into one panel. As you can see, the default view shows several icons and presets. There are over twenty presets for quick fixes. The icons are a quick way to set up the panel to work on various common editing tasks including Brightness/Contrast, Levels, Curves, Hue/Saturation and more. You will also notice that you have a new Vibrance adjustment. When you click on any of these icons, the panel dynamically changes to display the corresponding controls. As you work, a new adjustment layer is added to the Layers panel and the controls are updated. The Hue/Saturation and Curves adjustments now have on-image controls that will dynamically change as you drag your mouse over the image. This is great when working on targeted areas within an image.

The second new panel is the Masks panel for working with pixel or vector masks. Along with this new panel comes the new Refine Mask dialog box which works much like the Refine Edge dialog box does for selections. If you work with Smart Objects, you will like that you can now link a mask with a smart object and treat them as one.

I use the Burn and Dodge tool quick a lot in my digital art and I was so impressed with the enhancements to these tools. Their effect is more controlled with the new Protect Tones feature. This new feature and the new Vibrance control for the Sponge tool make it possible to make very subtle adjustments with these tools. Another enhancement that I found very helpful is the preview added to the Clone tool. When using this tool previously, you chose a section of the image to clone and then hoped for a good result as you painted with the Clone tool. Now, you have a preview of what the change will look like before you apply the Clone tool. As you pass the tool over the image, you can see the preview within the brush area.

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