Visual Arts | Tools

Wacom Intuos4 M

I know what you’re thinking: it’s hard to get excited about the traditional Intuos tablets now that Cintiq is on the scene. These days, buying a graphics tablet without a built-in pressure-sensitive LCD display seems about as novel as bringing home a big-screen standard-def TV for your home theater. But with the release of the Intuos4, Wacom proves that its veteran pro tablet line still has some new tricks in it yet: double the pressure sensitivity, a new iPod-style touch wheel interface, and programmable ExpressKey buttons complete with LED labels. All of this makes for better control and less reliance on your keyboard.

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Visual Arts | Tools

Corel Graphics Suite X5

During the 1990s CorelDRAW dominated the world of PC-based graphics and design, but the mantle has since passed to Adobe’s Creative Suite. There’s still a strong core of users that value Corel’s more streamlined and affordable approach to design, however, and it’s those people Corel is targeting with this latest release.
With that in mind, it isn’t surprising that there’s little that’s obviously different about the new version. There’s no big interface overhaul, no flash new splash screen and no spangly new look. But under the hood, there’s plenty going on.

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Visual Arts | Tools

Canon EOS Rebel T1i

Canon has a fairly simple system for naming its various digital single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras. There are cameras that are named with a single-digit number, like the 1DS and 5D (the EOS 5D Mark II [], to be precise); these represent the upper end of the product line. Then there are the cameras named with a two-digit number, such as the 50D; these cameras fill the mid-range of Canon’s SLR line. Finally, there are the various Rebels, which hold up the lower end of Canon’s offerings.

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Visual Arts | Tools

Adobe Photoshop CS4

Adobe made some pretty serious changes in Photoshop CS4, especially in the workspace. And while some of them, like the new Application Frame, will take some getting used to (and are optional), they’re changes that are long overdue. Each new version has piled new tools on top of old, and important bits and pieces were getting lost in the shuffle. In fact, you’re liable to see several “new” tools in Photoshop CS4 that aren’t really new at all (like the Hand and Zoom tools); they’ve merely clawed their way back to the surface after being buried. As a result, a few tools have been cut (stay tuned to find out which ones).

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Visual Arts, Visual Arts | Tools

Adobe Illustrator CS4

If you’re someone who started out with Adobe Illustrator back when it was called Illustrator 88, then you’ve seen lots of changes over 20 years. Illustrator is one of a handful of powerful vector drawing products aimed at graphic artists and illustrators, and it’s always been elegant and production-ready. Even if Adobe has sometimes been slow to add cool new features, you could always count on Illustrator’s stability and its color and output engines to perform well in a professional production environment.

Illustrator, as a high-end professional app, doesn’t really have any competition on the Mac anymore (CorelDraw is Windows-only), which might explain why Adobe is only now getting around to adding some features that the program has needed for years. If you’re a Mac user who needs a vector-based drawing tool, Illustrator is the biggest and best player around, and the new CS4 version is a solid, impressive upgrade that adds some cool new tools.

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