Extensis PhotoGraphics 1.0

by Joe Gillespie — Feb 1, 1999

As wonderful as Adobe Photoshop might be in most respects, text handling has never been a strong point. The latest 5.02 revision has sorted out the dreadful kerning and anti-aliasing that was introduced with Photoshop 5 as a result of the implementation of editable text layers.

I have always had to resort to Illustrator to get any kind of typographical finesse - setting the type in Illustrator and dragging and dropping into Photoshop.

Extensis PhotoGraphics now fills this gap in Photoshop's functionality. It is essentially what Adobe left out.

PhotoGraphics is something of a misnomer as it has nothing to do with photographs, the 'Photo' part comes from Photoshop but it is the 'Graphics' that is the important bit. PhotoGraphics is a mini vector drawing package in the form of a Photoshop plug-in. It doesn't make any claims to replace Illustrator or FreeHand in the drawing department, it is fairly basic in that respect, but the control over type is very significant.

The interface and functionality are very Photoshop-like, which is to be commended, although there are subtle differences.

PhotoGraphics opens a new window on top of Photoshop into which you can type and modify any combination of font faces, styles, sizes and colors and you have complete control over the leading and kerning right down to individual character level.

You can set type along paths like you can in Illustrator or FreeHand as well as in text blocks.

Text set in PhotoGraphics is applied to a Photoshop layer where it becomes a bitmap with variable anti-aliasing. The anti-aliasing slider lets you select a quality of anti-aliasing to match the letter-style.

You might wonder why it should be set to anything but 'off' or 'best', but when you are working with small, fine type, it is nice to have more control so that it doesn't blur too much. Although the type is 'fixed' in Photoshop, the type layer can be opened and re-edited with PhotoGraphics.

As I mentioned earlier, the drawing facilities are rudimentary, just lines, rectangles, ovals and polygons and a rotation tool but each object can have variable opacity so that you can control transparency.

Extensis PhotoGraphics is a very valuable addition to Photoshop - much more so than the plethora of 'special effects' filters also available from Extensis and other companies.

My only slight quibbles are with the slow screen refresh and the price, which I feel is a little high. If you already have Illustrator or FreeHand, you don't get all that much extra functionality for your 149.95.

If you don't need the power of one of these two major vector drawing packages, PhotoGraphics is a cheaper alternative.

Extensis PhotoGraphics 1.0
Features red bar90%
Ease of Use yellow bar90%
Value for Money green bar85%
'Must Have' Factor blue bar90%
Manufacturer Extensis
Price US$149.96 for Mac/Win95/NT.
Summary Essential typesetting facilities for Photoshop users!
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