Photoshop has changed considerably in CS3. The basic windows will be familiar if you’ve used the package in the past – the Navigator, Layers and Colour palettes remain (although they can now be quickly shrunk to save space). But the Tool palette is now a single row and there’s a new toolbar on the right providing quick access to Text, Brush, History and Cloning tools among others. The package also comes in two versions – Standard and Extended.
There’s a great new Quick Selection tool that can make a pretty good stab at selecting any reasonably well-defined object simply by dragging across it. For those objects that prove difficult to select, there are a couple of extra tools for refining the selection automatically. The Magnetic Lasso is likely to be made almost completely obsolete by this. In addition, image filters can now be applied as layers, so you can go back and alter them later.
Photoshop Extended adds the impressive new ability to work with 3D objects that can be imported in a range of formats (including obj and 3ds). So now you can bring in a Poser figure or a ZBrush object and rotate, relight or retexture it within Photoshop. You can even use the package to paint textures, although working with complex objects can be a touch slow.
The bottom line is that Photoshop CS3 is what Adobe claims it is: the biggest update in the program’s history. Its raft of new features is not just targeted at a few specific types of user, it’s aimed at anyone who works with images. That said, what most artists really want is a package that does everything that Photoshop does but also adds natural media painting and sketching. As the paint packages move in on Photoshop’s territory, CS3 does nothing to address this.