Adobe Photoshop 5.5
by Rick Smith (December 22, 1999)
Since I never had to slice up graphics manually using crude tools, I don't really know how hard it must have been back in the "old days". All I can say is that the slicing feature of Image Ready 2.0, part of PhotoShop 5.5 is wonderful. It helps you concentrate on the project and the graphics themselves instead of the minutia of split file name sequencing and table creation required for a sliced graphics. All you have to do is to be able to select an area with the marquee tool and then choose Slices - "Create Slice from selection" and you have "sliced" the image. Even if you do something bizarre like select an oval area, the slicing feature simply creates the smallest rectangle that can contain the selected area and turns that into a slice. If that slice is in the middle and because all slices must be rectangular (to form an HTML table), Image Ready 2.0 creates the other four required slices automatically. Real easy - 2 steps, select and slice. If you need a more precise slice, you can use numerical spin controls or type the specific pixel you want the cut to start at and the exact height and width of the slice to get the exact slice what you want. If this is too hard, you can even divide an area into equal sized pieces vertically, horizontally or both!
Setting rollovers is also quite easy and they are created much like animations. In Image Ready 2.0, you simply select the slice with the selection tool, click the rollover tab, then click the "create new rollover state". Set the layer visibility for the desired effect and you're done! The visibility of effects in each layer can also be individually adjusted like separate layers so that rollovers can be easily created through changes in layer effects, instead of having to create another duplicate layer with only an effect change. This makes the saved Photoshop file size smaller and you don't have to link nearly identical layers when using the move tool. Image Ready supports the full range of Web effects - over, down, click, out and up.
I would advise getting the graphics laid out and to have all the layers completely defined before you start working on your rollovers, so you won't have to go back and adjust each rollover state for each slice. Adobe has created this software to made it so easy to create complex Web graphics, but you need to work on the design of your graphics, THEN split these graphics into slices, instead of worrying about slice names and slice sizes throughout the design process. People tend to forget that the goal of Web graphics is how they look to the Web reader/surfer, not how "cool" you split the graphics into tables. The design of Adobe's design workflow supports the goal of great graphics and they did a great job on these new Web features.
Some people may not like going between the two software programs Photoshop 5.5 and Image Ready 2.0 to get all their Web work done, but if your work is reasonably planned, this switching should be minimal. You will need a fair amount of RAM, since it is faster to have both programs in memory at the same time.
Even though I encountered a few problems, none that can't be resolved simply, so I highly recommend Image Ready 2.0 (part of Photoshop 5.5) for the Web features alone. And you get the rest of Photoshop's features for free. Simply stated, Photoshop 5.5 with Image Ready 2.0 helps you get your design work done without having to concentrate on the technical details of the Web.
Of course, I would like to see some of my ideas incorporated into the next version. It will be interesting to see if the next version of Photoshop and Image Ready will be a single program or separate programs as they are now.
© 1999 Rick Smith All rights reserved.