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© 2010 Ugur Akinci
Adobe’s new Creative Design Suite 5 (CS5) has a lot going for advertisers, creative designers, and commercial artists of all stripes. However, I don’t think it offers much that is both new and relevant/useful to technical communicators who are using TCS2 (Technical Communication Suite 2).
At this point I don’t even know whether Photoshop 5 (PS5) will replace the PS that comes with TCS2 or not.
Illustrator, which is more useful than PS for technical communicators who draw technical illustrations, is of course still not a part of the TCS package at this writing.
But I have submitted my request to Adobe Senior Product Evangelist for TCS R.J. Jacquez and I believe he’s waging the good fight either to have Illustrator replace PS in TCS, or at least have it offered as a part of the TCS package alongside PS, or as an elective option. Why Adobe expects all technical illustrators to use PS as a part of their daily workflow is hard to understand.
And even if AI were offered with TCS, Adobe designers must still rethink some of the Illustrator tools from a Technical Illustrator’s point of view in order to serve the special needs to the technical communication community.
For example, the new Vanishing-Point Perspective tool in AI5 is breathtaking. Beautiful.
But there’s a small catch — normal “vanishing point” perspective is not what’s used in technical manuals and specs. Where’s the “isometric perspective” tool?
If Adobe continues to offer only PS as part of TCS, I believe eventually an increasing number of technical illustrators will defect to Corel Designer Technical Suite X4 which is already a superior (even if also a more expensive and harder to learn) product for isometric illustrations.
Having said that, let me mention just a few of the exciting design features that CS5 offers for designers in general, whether they do technical illustrations or not:
PS5 offers an amazing new selection and cutting tool which re-draws the background (especially if it’s a homogeneous background like a wall, a forest, the sky, the sea, etc.). Then you can save your cut foreground object to a new layer and move it around. That way you can re-build the whole composition with your object in a new location, complete with a redrawn and seamless background.
Also amazing is the possibility of BENDING your foreground object and changing its shape without altering the background! wow…
PS5 offers an enhanced tool to correct lens distortion and unwanted vignette effects, as well as another to tool to ADD seamless vignettes to images that don’t have one.
In terms of Illustrator, one novelty I can tell is the ability to line up dotted lines with the sharp corners of objects like arrows.You can now also use a variable-width stroke to draw organic shapes. The Vanishing-Point Perspective tool I’ve mentioned above. It’s great to draw buildings but not for drawing isometric machine parts and system components.
I’m sure there are many other new features that Illustrator offers and I’ll revisit the topic in the days ahead.
Here is a video on Top 5 New Features of Illustrator CS5:
And a good video resource that explains what’s new in all CS5 products: