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I remember the first time I opened Photoshop. My eyeballs bugged out of my head, my brain turned to mush and I felt intimidated and excited at the same time. Did you know the very first version of Photoshop was released in 1988? I was only 8 years old. I bet if Mom and Dad had gotten me a computer and Photoshop back then, well, I still would have been just as confused as the first time I opened it. Being an avid user of Photoshop myself, I personally can’t remember any version past 7.0. There were actually nine versions before Photoshop 7.0. I have graduated to version 12.0 (CS5) from 7.0 and I have seen and experienced the evolution of tools added, functionality improvements and endless potential of Photoshop. It has been like watching a child grow. Complete with the growing pains, letting go and learning new things.

7.0 – aka – Liquid Sky


Photoshop Liquid Sky

Still the standard photoshop, a few features were added to make this version pop. One of the best features Photoshop introduced in 7.0 was the healing brush. To this day, I utilize the healing brush while editing almost every photograph. The icon for the healing brush says it all. It’s a little band aid. The healing brush is somewhat similar to the clone stamp tool. While you are sampling areas with both tools, the healing brush actually “fixes” an area while sampling lighting, shading, texture and sampled pixels while smoothing the area. The clone stamp literally duplicates the clone source and paints it over the original information.The healing brush can only work on layers with actual pixel information i.e. the background layer or layers with pixel data.

Photoediting before and after

CS 8.0- aka – Dark Matter

Photoshop Dark Matter

The Creative Suite name begins, as well as that beautiful feather logo we have all come to love. Adobe really started breaking out the big guns in this version. Some people were highly impressed with specific functionalities added such as the ability to type on a path, a match color command or the shadow/highlight command. A higher capacity including 16 bit per channel for layers, adjustments and painting. The ability was added to make documents 300,000 pixels in height and width. A major development was the filter gallery and the ability to preview filters on your document.

Photoshop Gallery

Another great addition was the real time histogram. This dialog box allowed you to see real time diagrams of light and dark tonal values while you edit.

Although these tools were impressive, I was excited about the organizational aspect of certain tools added. For instance, smart guides. Yes we as designers have a keen eye when it comes to spacing and placement, however smart guides made our lives that much easier.


One of my personal favorites is the introduction to layer groups. As designers we tend to work with multiple layers at a time, organizing those layers is a necessity. Layer groups allowed us to place layers within a folder in the layers pallet for better organization.

CS2 9.0 – aka- Space Monkey

Photoshop CS2

Ahhh the gradient feather logo. The introduction to Bridge. The new “smart” features. Seeing fonts in a preview before committing, vanishing points, red eye tool, image warping, lens correction…. Ok, lets talk about Bridge. When I opened Bridge for the first time, I gave it a raspberry and closed it. Stubborn designers do not like to change organizational methods easily. Then I though of Simon and Garfunkle. Bridge over Troubled Waters. Ok, I’ll give it a shot. WOW. My first thought… I can see everything! “Everything” meaning not only photoshop documents but PDFs, Illustrator documents, images (jpgs, etc) InDesign documents and so on. Bridge offers multiple views and menus for organization. Not to mention a ranking system.

CS2 Features

Lets talk about layers. One of the frustrations I experienced before CS2 was not being able to select multiple layers at one time. (Well, without linking them together) CS2 gave us the ability to select multiple layers by holding the command (or ctrl) button. Woohoo!
The new tools we can use on these layers include the red eye tool. Something photographers and retouchers alike were ecstatic about. With just a click you can get rid of the red eye caused by a camera.

RedEye Reduction
Another really amazing tool introduced in CS2 was image warp. Not only was this a very fun tool, but very effective as well. While accessing this from the transform menu, you can now “warp” an image by selecting the points and moving them to fit your needs. Im sure packaging designers loved this addition!

How about that vanishing point? Adobe has given us the power to transform in perspective. Create a plane, then add in whatever you like. Make buildings taller, panoramic landscapes and create billboards on an image. Thank you vanishing point!
Skyscraper comparisons
Smart objects. How can an object be smart? Well, CS2 can show you. Smart objects point to an original image, object or file. This mean when you make changes using a smart object, it does not effect the original image. This allows you to size an image without losing the integrity of the actual image, make changes with effects and save without corrupting the original image. For instance, you can scale a smart object without the ending result being pixelated.
Pixelated Images

CS3 10.0 – aka- Red Pill

adobe_cs3_style_Red Pill

Ohhh pretty. So CS3 you are pretty, but do you have smarts? CS3 gave us a new interface with a faster launching speed. As for the interface, we now have panels we can arrange, hide or show. You can select these panels through the window menu. You can also dock these panels together, or minimize them. You can also show all menu items if you’d like. This interface gave designers the ability to customize a workspace conducive to the designers style or working conditions.


One tool introduced in CS3 that I have come to love and utilize on a daily basis is the Quick Selection tool. Yes we have our lasso tools, our marquee tool and our magic wand, but the quick selection tool lives up to its name. You can simply select an area using an adjustable brush tip and drag the mouse to select wherever your little heart desires.

Image Sharpen
Another function introduced in CS3 was the Black and White conversion. This allowed you to select the black and white option from the image > adjustments menu. What this does is convert a full color image into grayscale without losing control of how individual colors are converted. You then have the option through the color balance to adjust the color or tone in highlights, shadows or midtones, or through the channel mixer to add tonal value.



CS4 11.0 -aka- Stonehenge


Just when you were getting the hang of CS3… BAM! CS4 comes out. I remember a lot of designers debating whether or not to upgrade. Some of the reasons designers did decide to upgrade were the new features. Oh, and the clean sleek new look.

Screen shot

Right off the bat you see the adjustments panel. Yay little images! With available presets for adjustments, creating nondestructive adjustment layers and convenience right at your fingertips, this was a great addition to CS4. All you do is click on the little image and the presets open right there!


The other option added was the Masks panel. This also offers quick and convenient ways to create masks.


Another feature added was the rotate view tool. Some people found this annoying or frustrating, but you always have the ability to disable this feature. What the rotate view tool did was rotate the canvas at any angle desired without obstructing or transforming the document. A little compass would come up to guide you, or you could enter in a numeric value if you wished.

Photoshop Rotate Tool

Content Aware Scaling. Again, how can content be “aware”? Well, this is how: When you scale an image normally, it affects all the pixels when resizing. What content aware scaling does is it affects pixels that do not have important visual content. I know, I know, all content is important. The wonderful thing about content aware scaling is that you can apply it to fit a layout without compromising the image. Yes, there are settings you can use to specify.

Cascaded Tiles

CS5 12.0 – aka- White Rabbit

I call this logo the little origami fish. Where do we begin in CS5? Several fun new tools and features were added. I’ll talk about a few favorites amongst designers. Lets start with the interface. CS5 gave us the ability to save and store specific workspaces. These workspaces are task specific that reflect your workflow. You can switch back and forth to these saved workspaces through the application bar. How convenient is that?! This feature has definitely helped me save time.

Screen shot-31

Refining edges more efficiently and effectively. Remember the days of spending hours on specific selections to get them just perfect? Selecting, feathering, contracting and expanding… although those tools are useful, CS5 gave us the refine edge tool. This allows you to control the edges of your selection. Extremely useful when selecting hair, fur or otherwise complex objects.

Screen shot-32

Before and After

Want to add a new background to an image? CS5 has given us Content Aware fill. This tool, is amazing. While on the background layer make a selection of what you do not want in the image,you just hit delete and a menu comes up :

Choose what contents you would like to use… and viola!

Ok, let talk about the Puppet Warp. We all secretly have always wanted to manipulate and be a puppet master. Now we can. Sort of. Puppet Warp allows you to manipulate an image with a visual mesh selecting points of where you wish to move. You can anchor points so they are not affected, or warp the entire image. This tool is great for fixing clothing, repositioning arms, legs and other extremities. The best way to use this tool is to place a cut out image onto a new background. Then puppet warp the image on top.

There are several other features and tools in all the versions of photoshop not mentioned in this article. You should take some time to really go through your own version of Photoshop and see what capabilities you may not know exist. The best feeling is discovering a new tool or feature that will help you utilize your software and manage your workload, as well as enhance your talent and skill set. Photoshop is a world of its own, please take the time to explore.