Editor's Note: This review has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it no longer ranks as a top 10 product. The original review is below, but check out our current top 10 about Graphic Design Software here.
In the ultra-competitive design software industry, Adobe is number one. Its graphic design software package brings innovation, technology and artistic vision together in one dynamic suite. Adobe Creative Suite 6 Design Standard comes with six separate applications – Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat X, Bridge and Media Encoder – each of which focuses on a specific design task. With these applications, you can create virtually anything. Adobe has always been on the cutting edge of graphic design technology, and the company's newest offering raises the bar even higher.
Adobe Design Standard is one of the best graphic design suites that the software giant offers. Like other graphic design software, this suite comes with an overwhelming arsenal of features, functions and tools. However, there is a steep learning curve. If you are new to graphic design, it may take you a few weeks or months to master the tools and features this graphic design software offers. This training pays huge dividends, though, giving you the ability to create nearly anything you can imagine in graphic form.
Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator all have intuitive user interfaces. Although these three applications serve different purposes, their workspaces and creative layouts are basically the same. You have your toolbar menu to the left, your palettes to the right and the rest of the feature tabs on top. We find this workflow simple, streamlined and smart. The importance of being able to navigate the workflow effectively is difficult to overstate.
InDesign is arguably the most powerful desktop publishing software available on the market today. Adobe has done a stellar job of making page layout a simple process with InDesign. This app enables you to design and publish pages with an ease that was simply unthinkable just a few years ago. In this iteration of InDesign, adobe has added some new content-collector tools that allow you to capture already-created content and repurpose it for the design you are currently working on. This is a huge timesaver that adds even more value to an application that is already quite powerful.
Whether you're a designer or photographer, Adobe Photoshop CS6 is the undisputed champion of photo editing and retouching. This application has a clean interface and a no-hassle workspace, which allow you to fiddle, fuss and tweak your photos with ease. Photoshop also offers a deluge of features and tools that elevate CS6 well above the competition. Some of the most powerful tools include:
HDR imaging – A photo is no longer just a photo with HDR imaging. You can merge layers, remove the "ghosts," and enhance the edge glow, tone, exposure and detail to create images that look like a professional photographer took them, even if you're not one.
360-degree panorama – Panoramas are ideal for scenery photographs. You can take a shot-by-shot view of a landscape, and then stitch them together in Photoshop to create one beautiful image. The 360 panorama tool allows you, if you choose, to wrap your image around a sphere to create quite the conversation piece.
Filters and effects – With hundreds of filters and effects, from basic filters like Artistic and Blur to advanced painting effects and editing tools such as Puppet Warp, you have the power to totally alter any image. Puppet Warp, for example, allows you to reposition elements in your photos. Adobe gives the example of an arm or flower stem. Using this tool, you can straighten akimbo limbs to make your picture more aesthetically pleasing.
Mobile support – Adobe has a Lava Color Mixing app, an Eazel painting app and a Nav Productivity app, which are all available for the iPad.
Content-aware fill – The park, your little girl's dance recital, a trip to the ocean – every photograph that you take has sentiment and beauty. You can customize these images by removing unwanted items, details and objects. The Content-Aware Fill tool, according to Adobe, "matches lighting, tone and noise, so it looks as if the removed content never existed."
Black-and-white conversion – Add drama to any photo by converting it from color to black and white. The Lab B&W Action tool can be combined with HDR imagery to create stunning results.
For the past decade or so, Adobe has set the standard for graphic design software and tools. Adobe's InDesign is our favorite application in the suite. Not only is it brilliantly amazing, but it also has hundreds of fantastic features that yield professional results. Newspapers, magazines and other publishers of print and online media use InDesign to create their layouts. Illustrator and Photoshop are InDesign's BFFs, because they all work seamlessly together. You can also use Illustrator for page layout and design, although it is best categorized as a vector illustration application.
InDesign offers advanced page setup with industry standards in mind, including standard layout practices, bleeds and advanced Master Pages (style sheets) that allow for seamless and smooth creation of any print document. Font support, advanced paragraph formatting and image placement, along with the ability to import a variety of external text documents, make InDesign the most dynamic page layout application on the market.
Adobe knows that it offers the best graphic design software, but the company doesn't stop at just being the best. It wants to dazzle and amaze, and with Adobe's eBook and ePub enhancements, that's exactly what the company continues to do. The Enhanced eBook Authoring tool, according to Adobe, allows you to "design compelling eBooks while reducing your dependence on developers. Include video and audio in your eBooks, as well as images that resize to fit virtually any screen. Retain greater control of content and typography when exporting documents to the ePub format." We are totally blown away by this inclusion, which we feel will revolutionize the way trade paper and online publications share messages with their audiences.
The vector illustration features available in the Illustrator application of Adobe CS6 include several enhanced features that augment an already amazing application. Industry-standard drawing tools and a variety of powerful effects make designing and manipulating vector-based graphics relatively easy and quite exciting.
Illustrator CS6 includes easier interaction with tools, palettes and options. The Bristle Brush tool lets you turn strokes into realistic-looking brush strokes. Graphic styles, advanced path controls and appearance editing all work together to make vector drawing even more intuitive than before. We are most impressed with the Perspective Drawing options. With grids and linear perspective, this tool may seem more apt for engineers, but graphic designers will soon fall in love too because they can create pages that have realistic depth perception.
Adobe has individual product help and support centers for each application in the suite, as well as a learning center with community forums, an extensive library of video tutorials and a Design Center. Adobe TV is this design software company's answer to preparing you to use its software. You can watch hundreds of videos online. The Design Center has articles and images for featured topics such as Digital Publishing, Print, and Images and Graphics.
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If you need technical support, you can speak with a live chat support agent – that is, if you can actually find the Chat Now button. If you linger on the site long enough, you may get a chat invitation; if you don't, however, you may need to navigate around the site a few times. Before we could begin our live chat session, we did have to fill out a long page of questions, which was a tad annoying.
Adobe Creative Suite 6 Design Standard is professional design software with professional tools that create professional results – but this design suite is for everyone. Whether you are a graphic designer with years of experience or have but a pinch of design talent, Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator provide an arsenal of features and tools that will aid you in creating winning designs.