First Look: Photoshop CS3 Beta

The long-awaited upgrade to Photoshop CS2 is finally on the way, which is especially great news for Mac users, as Photoshop CS3 will run natively on the latest Intel-based Mac systems. For Windows users, it’s ready for Vista, too.

The official release of CS3 is coming soon, but in the meantime, get an early look at the upgrade by downloading the public beta—a first for Photoshop—from Anyone can try it free during the beta period, but to continue using it, you must have a valid CS2 serial number. Remember, beta software is just that, meaning there may be functionality issues not yet resolved, so don’t ditch your earlier version of Photoshop just yet.

New Quick Selection Tool

With the new Quick Selection tool, you click and drag around the approximate area or object you want to work on, then CS3 analyzes the image to complete the selection automatically.

Enhanced Adobe Camera Raw

Users of Adobe’s Lightroom will recognize the new features added to the enhanced Camera Raw 4.0, which now has Fill Light, Recovery and Vibrance controls, as well as sophisticated black-and-white toning controls, a parametric tone curve and a grayscale conversion option.

Left Tool Palette Slim View

In the Photoshop CS3 beta, some noticeable changes have been made to the look of the palettes. The left tool palette can now be changed to a single column, giving you a larger, unobstructed view of the image on which you’re working. You’ll also notice the slot formerly occupied by the Magic Wand tool has been replaced by the Quick Selection tool.

Enhanced Black-And-White Conversion

The advanced Black-and-White conversion dialog gives you control over the conversion of each color in your image. You can easily fine-tune the tones of each color using sliders, select from a new series of black-and-white presets with the improved Channel Mixer adjustment or save your own custom settings as presets.

Refine Edge Feature

Refine Edge is a new feature of CS3 that allows you to adjust the edge of any element in your image. Access this feature via the Select pull-down menu or by clicking on the object whose edge you have selected for editing with the Quick Selection tool. This opens the Refine Edge dialog, where you can smooth, feather, contract or expand an edge with simple slider controls. The dialog also has a Radius slider for rendering irregular or fuzzy edges.

Automatic Layer Alignment And Blending

Sometimes we need to take multiple shots of the same scene to make a composite later in Photoshop. Using automatic layer alignment and blending will combine the best parts of multiple images of one scene into a composite “best” image. CS3 will analyze the contents, then move and rotate the layers so they overlap as precisely as possible. You also can use the masking tools to reveal the parts you want from different layers to finalize the composition of the image.

Nondestructive Smart Filters

Nondestructive Smart Filters can now be applied to your images so they remain live and editable. Select one or more layers, then choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters. This turns the selected layer(s) into a Smart Object so you can apply filters without actually affecting the original pixels. You also can edit the Smart Filter mask to change the filter’s effects on different areas of your image. Any filter that you select will be treated as a Smart Filter when you apply it to a Smart Object.

Vanishing Point With Multiple, Adjustable-Angle Perspective Planes

Vanishing Point is made even more flexible. Now when you paint over perspective planes to erase unwanted elements from your images, you can easily create multiple planes connected at any angle, not just 90 degrees. Use the Alt/Option key to adjust angles of planes when dragging on a side point of a plane, or simply enter the desired angle in the Angle field dialog.

New Tool Dock On The Right-Screen Tool Palette

There’s a new tool dock for the palettes that used to reside in the tabbed collections on the right side of the screen. The tool dock houses icons for History, Actions, Tool Presets and more. Individual palettes can be accessed or the entire tool dock can be enlarged so you can view all the palettes at once. Consolidating all these palettes into a single tool dock has made things much roomier for the other palettes of tabbed collections, especially the Navigator and Histogram. Adobe has made it possible to collapse the palettes into a collection of smaller icons if you want even more room on your screen.

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