Adobe Creative Suite CS5
Company: Adobe

Price: $1299.00 Buy Software Now

The Adobe Creative suite is a large unified design environment. To the first time user it is like arriving as a tourist in a foreign land, without a map or a guide. Use this review as a pocket guide to the sights Adobe has to offer. After taking this short guided tour, you will be ready to discover the hidden treasures that will appeal to your personal needs, and to the demands of the projects you wish to tackle with the programs of the Suite.

Adobe offers single programs to perform specific tasks. These programs combined, create an exciting and powerful toolbox, which is called Adobe Creative Suite.

The programs that make up the Adobe Creative Suite Design Premium Collection are:

Adobe InDesign CS5
Adobe Photoshop CS5 Extended
Adobe Illustrator CS5
Adobe Flash CS5 Professional
Adobe Dreamweaver CS5
Adobe Fireworks CS5
Adobe Flash Catalyst CS5
Adobe Acrobat XPro
Adobe Device Central CS5
Adobe Media Encoder
Adobe Bridge CS5

Chances are you are not familiar with all of the above, but if you have some experience using a few of the Adobe programs, like Photoshop or Illustrator you can easily switch to the rest. You might wonder though, why should I even try to learn all these programs?

As a designer you wish to convert abstract ideas to real content across multiple media. Adobe Creative Suite can help you to achieve this, by providing a unified environment that helps you publish for print, Web and screen viewing.

Let’s take a look at what each program has to offer and then move on to examine how they all work together for your benefit.

Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is a program that is described as pixel-based. It works with images that are made up from pixels. You can create images from scratch using advanced painting tools. You can import images using a scanner or a digital camera and then edit them, manipulate them, and enhance them. You can work further with your images in Photoshop using tools to add shapes, paths and text.

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This new version of Photoshop has managed to improve, even more, the way one can make a professional selection. It also features the addition of Mini Bridge, it offers advanced warping capabilities, content aware retouching, and with the new Repousse feature it lets you enter into the world of 3D.

Adobe Illustrator

This is a vector based illustration program. Vectors are mathematically computed, so they are not dependent on the resolution of the image the way pixel-based files are. You can resize vectors without compromising on quality, or file size. Illustrator offers a wide variety of tools to draw shapes, fill them with colors, blend lines and shapes, make 3D effects, add text and even include pixel based images. It also supports Live Trace which lets you convert bitmap images to vector objects.

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This new version of Illustrator supports something that many of us have wished for in the past: multiple page documents.
The addition of the Bristle Brush can create interesting effects as it mimics watercolor on paper.

The origin of the rulers in this new version is in the upper left corner, exactly where you think it should be, but for so many years it was at the bottom left and we have almost started to think of that as the norm.

For those who have trouble understanding perspective, the new Perspective Grid Tool makes adding perspective a no brainer.

Adobe InDesign

You create images in Photoshop, vector objects in Illustrator, you write text in a word processor; then you bring them all together with InDesign. The program works with object frames. These frames can be filled with text, images or interactive elements. After creating the final layout, you can export it as a pdf for review or for print, for use on the Web, or for the needs of a cd/dvd-rom production.

The CS5 version of InDesign gives you the option in the New Document Panel to select whether the file you are about to create will be for the Web or for Print.

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Other new features of this version include the support for different sized pages within the same document, the ability to track changes made to your document, and an update to the Layer panel which is now similar to the one in Illustrator.

Adobe Flash CS5 Professional

Flash looks a lot like Illustrator at first sight. But Flash is all about interactive and animated objects which are used on the Web and in Cd-roms. Flash and Illustrator work well together, and files can be moved between the two programs without problems. Flash is a new member of the Adobe Creative Suite yet it is beginning to blend in well with the rest of the programs.

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Adobe Dreamweaver CS5

This is a tool that creates and manages web-sites. You can create elements in the other CS5 applications and bring them together in Dreamweaver. In addition to the standard tools for designing a web-site, it gives you the tools to create cascading style sheets and use scripting languages. The new CS5 version features some very subtle changes in the document toolbar, the ability to inspect your CSS live, and the Adobe Browser Lab which lets you preview your pages in different browsers.

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Adobe Fireworks CS5

Fireworks is a program that creates graphics for the Web. You might wonder, since so many other Adobe Creative Suite programs give you the options to create and export web graphics, why do we need yet another program to perform what seems like the same task? Because there is a need for rollovers, interactive wireframes, image maps, etc. Adobe Fireworks provides features that are specific only to the Web and offers the easiest way to optimize graphics for web use.

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Adobe Acrobat XPro

All the Adobe Creative Suite Programs that create files for print, export and import pdf files. You can use a pdf file to ask colleagues to review a document, you can create portfolios, presentations and media shows. Pdf file format has become the standard format for digital prepress and printing.

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Adobe Bridge and Mini Bridge

When working on large projects, you tend to deal with many files of different formats. At some point, just finding the right files to open or import, can become a time consuming task. Adobe Bridge provides you with a thumbnail preview of all Adobe Creative Suite documents, and supports other formats as well. You can also use the program to assign uniform attributes to groups of files. You can, for example, set a uniform color model for all applications.

Mini Bridge is what the name suggests: a mini version of the program available directly through Photoshop.

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CS Live

From every Adobe Creative Suite application you can access the CS Live function. This allows other users to view your current workspace through the internet and make comments. This is a great way to get feedback on your designs, especially when working under tight deadlines.

Device Central CS5

With the new generation of mobile devices and the iPhone, we often have to create content specifically for “smart phones”. In Device Central you can preview what your design will look like on various devices of the kind.

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One of the great advantages of the Adobe Creative Suite is the ease with which you can use native file formats. When working with Photoshop you don’t have to save your work as a native psd file and then make copies in tiff, eps, gif, jpeg, png, etc. This saves you both space on your hard disk and most importantly time. Native Photoshop and Illustrator files can be imported into InDesign, Flash and Fireworks.

For a designer who has learned how to productively use one program of the Adobe Creative Suite, it becomes a lot easier to master the rest of the programs, as the interface is similar, many menus and shortcuts are the same, as well as tools and commands. To further facilitate the learning process Adobe Creative Suite offers customizable keyboard shortcuts for all the programs of the Suite.

If you are still not convinced about the advantages of using the Adobe Creative Suite, think of the following real world example:

Imagine a design professional who gets a brief to create a magazine advert.
He starts by doing some sketches on paper.
Proceeds to scan the sketch with his best idea and save it as a pdf file.
He then emails the pdf file to the other members of the team who are working on the campaign.
They add their comments to the pdf file and send it back.
The designer reviews the comments and starts working on the advert.
He creates images in Photoshop.
He creates line art in Illustrator.
He uses Bridge to easily locate all necessary files of logos, photos etc.
He then puts everything together with the appropriate text in InDesign.
He reviews his InDesign file with his colleagues and the client through CS Live.
He creates a ready to print pdf file and sends it to the printer.
When the client asks if they can have the same concept designed for the Web he uses the design elements to put everything together in Dreamweaver.
To make it more exciting he integrates a small animation he created with Flash.

Conclusion

Adobe Creative Suite can create a really dynamic workflow that can’t be matched by any other design software. If you are seriously into the design business you can’t do without Adobe Creative Suite.