Photoshop Elements makes it easy to retouch your digital photos; apply special effects, filters, and styles; prepare images for the Web; even create wide-screen panoramas from a series of individual photos. And Photoshop Elements provides several features geared specifically to the beginning user. Of particular note are a comprehensive Help system featuring a glossary of common, digital image-editing terms; and a unique, engaging palette that helps guide you step by step through a variety of fun and useful tasks: from basic photo retouching to creating special digital effects.
The Glossary, accessible from within Photoshop Elements' Help, provides easy-to-understand definitions of nearly 200 terms. Although this glossary is specifically written for use with Photoshop Elements, it also serves as a good general digital photography and image-editing resource. Alongside the software-specific topics like brush type and canvas size, you'll find excellent working definitions of concepts diverse as bit depth, PostScript, and RGB color.
The How To palette features collections of activities designed to take you through tasks from basic photo retouching to creating special digital effects. At the same time, these activities are designed as a reference, so that over time you'll learn how to perform these tasks on your own. The How To palette provides a great way to quickly learn sophisticated image-editing techniques while completing your own projects.
What's new in version 4
If you've worked with Photoshop Elements in the past, you should feel right at home in version 4.0. Although you'll notice some subtle changes as you scan the interface, most of the tools, palettes and menus remain in easy to locate areas of the desktop. The toolbox, options bar, palette bin, and photo bin still figure prominently, as does the powerful Organizer with its Photo Browser and Creation work environments. New tools and features have been woven throughout both the Edit and Organizer workspaces. Following are just a few of the highlights.
The Magic Selection Brush and Magic Extractor
Two new tools have been added to Photo shop Element's toolbox for version 4. The Magic Selection Brush operates on the same principle as the Magic Wand, selecting areas based on color and tonal values. But rather than simply clicking an area as with the Magic Wand, the Magic Selection Brush (as its name implies) allows you to paint through an area that you would like to select. This technique not only offers you feedback in the form of colored brushstrokes, but also allows you to more easily select a variety of tones and colors simultaneously.
The Magic Extractor, which you access from the Image menu, works in much the same way as the Magic Selection brush, but specializes in separating foreground images from their backgrounds. The Magic Extractor (a unique work environment unto itself) features the added benefit of its own toolbox of specialty tools you can use to fine-tune and enhance your selections.
The Straighten tool
The simple, little Straighten tool is one of my favorite new features. You use it to align photos based on a horizontal plane, and it couldn't be easier. Start with a photo that's askew, and then just drag the Straighten tool from one side to the other, and presto! Your crooked landscape is crooked no more.
The improved Slide Show Editor
The Slide Show Editor within the Organizer workspace has been given a complete makeover. Starting with a more streamlined approach to importing and organizing your slides, the new Slide Show Editor also makes it much easier to add transitions and effects. But that's really just the beginning. Now you can also add text, clip art, and even narration. And when it comes time to save and export a slide show, Photoshop Elements can create either a PDF or a movie file, and save it in different formats suitable for email, for burning to disc, and even for viewing on TV.