Graphics & Publishing

Alibre Design 2011 Personal Edition

When I make stuff--regardless of the material I use--I start by creating a rough sketch of my idea using pencil and paper, and then I launch into the project, typically spending a great deal of time revising and fixing mistakes. In the future, however, I may try to design some projects in Alibre Design 2011 Personal Edition to save time and frustration on the back end. That is, if I can ever master this hobbyist-level CAD program.

Serif PhotoPlus X4

Serif PhotoPlus is designed for photo enthusiasts who seek more creative control and functionality than what novice programs offer, but who aren't ready to graduate to the depth, complexity, and expense of Adobe Photoshop.

Daz 3D Bryce 7

Able to design terrains, water and oceans, skies, clouds, fog, vegetation and architecture, along with strong animation and rendering tools, Bryce is a venerable 3D suite now being developed by Daz As to be expected, Bryce 7 Pro offers close integration with Daz Studio and thus access to the Daz library of digital characters and objects, but there's a welcome new ability to import models in Google Sketchup format, as well as import and export COLLADA and FBX files.

Adobe Acrobat X Pro

Adobe Acrobat is a multitalented business application. You can use it to lock down electronic documents, create press-ready color pages, or produce form-laden documents that feed data to a database. But judging from the beta I tried of Adobe Acrobat X Pro ($728 when released in fourth quarter 2010), the latest iteration will be much more Web-aware, and it will be able to bring new life to formerly staid, static electronic documents.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 9

Adobe Photoshop Elements 9, the new version of Adobe's image editing and organising application, adds a few interesting features, but nothing of an oh-wow nature--unless you're opting for the Macintosh version, which adds several features found in previous Windows versions. But whichever platform you're on, Elements 9 remains one of the better consumer-level image handling applications you can choose.

FxCamera 0.5.5 for Android

FxCamera is an easy, fun application that lets you take a picture with various effects including "Fisheye," "Polaroid," "Warhol," "Toycam," and "Symmetricam." There's also a "Normal" mode for taking regular photos. The app is easy to operate: When opened, it displays each effect option in a landscape slideshow. You simply tap on the camera icon at the bottom of each effect to access the camera function and take a photo with that effect.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3

Many professional photographers and serious hobbyists have been using Adobe Lightroom 2 as an integral part of their editing workflow. With Adobe Lightroom 3 ($412 for first-time buyers, $136.12 as an upgrade; prices as of June 25, 2010), even more photographers are likely to adopt it as a one-stop photo-editing resource.

Autodesk Maya 2011

Maya is the de facto application for 3D character animation, but even in Maya rigging a character for animation is often a tedious chore. Fortunately, in Maya 2011 rigging is a bit easier with new interactive skin binding which sets up initial skin weights via a weighting manipulator (like a scale or move manipulator). Once done the initial weights can be refined with the paint weighting tools which have also been improved with tools to copy, paste, and move weights, better selection, and improved colour feedback.

Adobe InDesign CS5

With InDesign CS4, Adobe tried to turn graphic designers into all-singing, all-dancing creators of interactive projects - turning print layouts into blinged-out fully animated Flash websites. Most designers ignored this, enjoying the few new layout tools like Smart Guides and Live Preflight and complaining that there’s no way to automatically convert RGB images to CMYK before output.

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