Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended review

Price when reviewed

Photoshop Extended was the surprise package of the CS3 Premium suites, with its introduction of 3D and video layers and a worthy new role in scientific image analysis. It was a hard act to follow.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended review

So what’s changed? There’s relatively little new in terms of general image analysis apart from the improved Count tool, which allows for multiple series, but the volume-based rendering and cross-sectional handling of DICOM images will be appreciated in medical scenarios.

For video handling the pickings are also thin. There’s tighter integration with Premiere Pro and After Effects via improved comments and keyboard shortcuts, and the basic support for audio is welcome. Otherwise, the biggest development is the ability to animate imported 3D objects and the support for such 3D layers in After Effects.

Even for image analysis and video handling the clear focus of this release is 3D. So much so that Adobe has entirely reworked Photoshop Extended CS4’s rendering engine to take advantage of OpenGL. The 3D panel has also been enhanced to offer three different lighting types. You can also now quickly turn image layers into flat 3D planes – “3D postcards” as Adobe calls them – or wrap them around various preset 3D shapes.

The biggest new feature is the ability to directly paint and retouch imported models without having to open up the separate texture maps. You can also overlay an image layer and drop this onto the object, paint with seamless textures and hide areas of the model’s mesh to paint on surfaces below.

Photoshop CS4 Extended certainly boasts a lot of 3D texturing power. The problem is that you have all the complexity that goes along with this, and you’re still only editing within a pseudo 3D environment; plus you can buy Cinema 4D for less, which provides true 3D painting and a high-end 3D modeller.

It’s odd that Adobe has gone to this much effort when 3D modelling is the only design area that it doesn’t cater for. It means the majority of users, who will get their hands on the application as part of the CS4 Design Premium and Web Premium suites, won’t derive any benefit from this release.

Click below for the rest of our CS4 reviews:

Adobe CS4 Master Collection

Design Standard / Design Premium CS4

Photoshop CS4

Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended

Adobe Illustrator CS4

Adobe InDesign CS4


Software subcategoryGraphics/design software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes

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