Join Lynda.com for an in-depth discussion in this video The evolution of a tool palette, part of Celebrating Photoshop: A 25th Anniversary Retrospective.
(soft guitar music) - A very interesting thing was when John Knoll comes by Adobe to give the first sales pitch. He wants to sell this Photoshop, and he'll introduce Photoshop to Adobe. And there was a moment where he was giving the presentation on the first color Macintosh, and he pulls out the magic wand tool, and he makes a selection on the surface of a lake.
I clearly remember this, and then he shows me that he can pull that selection off, and it's got a soft edge. It's got a soft edge. What? It's got a soft edge? I'm here, Mr. Exacto-blade. I could cut that lake out with an exacto-blade, but this had a soft edge. I ran, not walked, to John Warnock's office and said, "You have to buy this." But he'd already decided to buy this, I think, already.
Even Photoshop 1.0 could do anything. It's a pixel manipulation tool, so there is indeed a pencil, which paints pixels, and you can go and paint all of the pixels. So you could always kind of do anything. The question is, could you do it in a reasonable amount of time and with a reasonable amount of skill. One of the early problems with Photoshop is that people would use the tools that were most obvious to them, things like brightness and contrast. It was right there in front of their face, and they would start messing with it, and they didn't really understand what was going on to their images.
It's low-level stuff, and you have to take the time to get that under your belt. Otherwise, you're gonna forever be messing up your images. When learning to use any one of those tools, the magic wand tool in particular, it was a lot of just trial-and-error kind of things, where I would actually zoom in so close on images, and, I would, the tolerance thing was very confusing, right? I would zoom in really close on those images, and then I would just click little things. And I would try to understand why it selected this group of pixels versus that group of pixels, and through that, I was able to understand, okay, when I push that tolerance level this way, it's able to pick up x number of pixels, or when I take it back down, it doesn't pick up those pixels, and I started to understand contrast and all that good stuff, and that's, I think, was one of the biggest things that I learned very quickly was I had to understand how these tools worked in order to use them effectively.
- With early Photoshop, I mean, officially the first one was like 1.07, and then 2 came out, and it was like oh my gosh. It's like what else can they think of. You know it was a miracle, and they went to 2.5. Now Windows is in the picture. And then 3, and that's where layers were introduced. And I have to admit, I was sort of like, I don't get it. Cause I had gotten so good at floating selections. Then I understood that with the image came a mask, and that, the masking is what really was revolutionary, was you could put two images on top of one another, and then you had a layer mask, and if I painted it with black, I would conceal areas.
If I painted with white, I would see them. That ability to go back and forth, and to save a file and close it and come back the next day and have the flexibility of the layers. Ground-breaking. I was like that's it, Photoshop's done. What else would you ever need? - There's no doubt that 3 was a big version of the program, but I think looking back on it, that Photoshop 5 was the one that really locked things in, because prior to that there really was no such thing as color management, so you could copy like a purple rectangle in Illustrator and paste it into Photoshop, and it's gonna be blue, and you know it's gonna change.
There is no way it's not gonna change between the two programs. You just accept it as routine that this is gonna change, and all of a sudden Photoshop comes along and says, "Wait a sec, I'm gonna adopt S-R-G-B, "and so I'm gonna define what it means "to be an R-G-B color space." And this was already a standard, but Photoshop was the first application to say okay we're really doing it. And that all of a sudden took the realm of color, which was highly imaginary, right? Highly aspirational and turned it into something that you could rely on.
- So Photoshop 7 had just shipped, and it brought out the healing brush. And people would go crazy. You'd demo it and "Oh my god." You know and it was like this Eastern-European guy working on algorithms for many years with this guy from Taiwan, and they would do this crazy scientist stuff, and it was indeed a huge breakthrough. But the thing that got almost as much applause was the fact that you could double-click the layer name, and you could rename right there in line. And it was crazy because it literally saves you no clicks, it was exactly the same amount of work, you just didn't have to move your eyeballs from here, up to here, and back down.
- And so what we started doing in earnest around CS 4, to some degree in CS 3, is we started revisiting these old tools and fixing them. So in the case of the sharpening brush, if you ever try the sharpening brush in Photoshop, between version one and say CS 3, you would never wanna touch that thing. Ever, ever, ever. Now, it's one of the best ways to sharpen selectively. It's really powerful. It doesn't create artifacts. It's a destructive process, so you're gonna want to dupe your layers, but we went back, and we fixed up all this old stuff, and we really made it work.
So, for all the new tools, new features there are, there's a lot of stuff that's been revisited as well. Brightness, contrast, curves, all sorts of different tools. - There's so many options in Photoshop. I think to get the most out of it, is it's good to visualize what you wanna do, and work towards that, and the more often you do that, the faster you're going to get. But then on the other hand, what I do, I try to do it every week, every weekend, is my friend and co-author, Sean Duggan, he coined a term, Photoshop sandbox time, where you literally go in and go, "I don't know what this feature does." And you just start mucking about with the sliders and trying things out.
- We all get caught up in, this is the way I've always done this project. This is the way I've always done this effect, and it's always worked, and I'll look at somebody who is clearly a, like a CS 5 user, and now they're using the Creative Cloud version, and they're doing it the old way, and I used to jump in and say, "Hey, hey, that's wrong." I've gotten out of that anymore. I think it's, that's the way they do it.
There's so many ways to get there, that they need to stay there, cause if I showed them a new way, it could ruin their whole process. Photoshop has gone through so many changes, but it still has its fundamental capabilities that one can do something the modern way or the historic way, and still get very good results from both techniques. - I guess my ethos working on this tool was always that we can't make people more creative or more visually acute or anything like that, all we can do is get out of the way.
So there's a great quote. Alexander the Great went to see this famous teacher, and he said what can I do for you, I can do anything; I can move heaven and earth. And the guy says, "Just don't block the light." You know? And so the quote goes on to say, well maybe someday we'll figure out how to make creative people more creative. Until then, we can just get out of the way. If we can just put that little level of craftsmanship into this product, it will ripple out in these imperceptible ways. Hopefully, across millions of people, across thousands, or tens of thousands of days of use, and that to me will make the world incrementally more beautiful.
And that to me is the reward.
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