Veteran photo-editing program gets a welcome facelift
At first glance, the list of new features in Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 isn't that impressive. There are some new lighting effects, a vignette effect, and some new artistic effects that allow you to make photos look like comic-book artwork or pen-and-ink drawings. These photo effects are quite attractive, and the comic-book options are fun to play with, but they are hardly compelling, essential features.
However, there is one important change to Photoshop Elements 11 that is long overdue and very welcome. The program's interface has previously been a large expanse of grey filled with an abundance of tiny tool icons and palettes that didn't really encourage users to experiment and explore the program's many creative tools.
Thankfully, though, Adobe has now given Photoshop Elements 11 a fairly major facelift. The colour scheme has been brightened up. More importantly, Adobe has also reorganized the program's interface and tools to make them more accessible and easy to use.
Like previous versions, Photoshop Elements 11 still has three main editing modes – Quick, Guided and Expert – and all three have been reorganised. The Quick mode allows you to make changes to basic settings such as colour balance and lighting levels, and its rows of fiddly slider controls have now been replaced by a small group of large, friendly-looking icons. Click on an icon, such as that for the Balance tool, and you'll see a single slider that lets you adjust the colour balance, along with a series of small previews that show how different colour settings will affect your photo.
The more advanced Guided mode gets a similar makeover. The long text list that previously named the program's various filter effects has been updated with a series of large icons that provide a more helpful visual indication of what each effect will do to your photos.
Finally, the Expert mode that allows more experienced users to work freely with the program's entire range of tools has been drastically tidied up. A number of cluttered tool palettes and pull-down menus have been condensed into a simple series of buttons running along the bottom of the editing window. Now you can just click on a button – such as the ‘FX' button for filter effects – to activate the specific tool or feature that you need.
Admittedly, none of these reorganized features are new, so if you already own Photoshop Elements 9 or 10 then there's no pressing reason for you to upgrade to version 11. However, the redesigned interface does make Photoshop Elements 11 seem a lot less complicated than before, so this new version is definitely a good choice for less experienced people who want a powerful yet straightforward program for editing their photos.
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It's not the most ambitious upgrade, but the redesigned interface does make Photoshop Elements easier for newcomers to use
Redesigned interface is easier to use; Fun comic-book effects; Attractive vignette and lighting effects
Few major new editing tools
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