Once you have captured pixels, it’s likely that you’ll feel compelled to modify them. The industry standard imaging application is Adobe Photoshop, and for good reason. Photoshop provides controls for color correction that enable a knowledgeable user to achieve results equal to those of a knob-twisting scanner operator. Its tools surpass the capabilities of the original, million-dollar dedicated systems. If you’re just beginning to learn Photoshop, you won’t lack for educational resources. You could probably build an addition to your house from the books devoted to exploring Photoshop. You can add Chapter 10, “Photoshop Production Tips,” to the pile.
Photoshop is arguably the most versatile and widely accepted application for image manipulation, but there are other applications that perform useful imaging functions as well.
Adobe Photoshop Elements® (Mac/PC) might be regarded as “Photoshop Lite,” but it still packs a hefty arsenal of retouching and color-correction tools. The product is geared toward enthusiasts and lacks support for CMYK images.
Adobe Lightroom™ (Mac/PC) is engineered for use by photographers and provides sophisticated tools for organizing and color correcting images.
Apple iPhoto® (Mac only) is geared toward hobbyists, with organizational tools and limited color-correction capabilities. However, it offers no support for CMYK images.
Aperture (Mac only) is targeted to photographers and includes support for Camera Raw files. It provides organizational tools as well as color-correction controls but provides no support for CMYK images.
These are not the only solutions that exist for manipulating images. There are painting programs, such as Painter™ and Paint Shop Pro® (both from Corel®), which let you easily make images resemble watercolors or oil paintings. Imaging tools for consumer and hobbyist photographers increase on a daily basis. However, most of these programs don’t offer support for CMYK images, so they’re not the best tools if you’re preparing images for print.
Let’s face it—if you’re designing for print, you can’t live without Photoshop. When the name of a product becomes a verb—“Please Photoshop that out”—it’s a sure sign that the product has become the industry standard.