* **Photoshop Elements:** Photoshop is available with an Adobe and more affordable integrated version called Photoshop Elements. You get a media-editing program, but few features.
* **Illustrator:** Illustrator has no photo-editing features. Instead, it has vector-graphics features that enable you to create complex graphics. You can also create illustrations in Adobe InDesign and import them into Photoshop.
* **Fireworks:** Fireworks is a vector graphics program that enables you to create complex graphics in a way that is similar to using Illustrator. It lets you organize layers and apply layer styles.
## Seeing the Difference Between Raster and Vector Graphics
_Raster_ (r-ass-ter) refers to the type of digital image you see on your computer screen. A _raster image_ is basically a picture that’s been broken down into the digital bits that make up an image. When you look at a computer screen, you see digital bits. The bits are a collection of dots, dashes, and lines that form a picture.
In essence, a raster image is nothing more than a pattern of dots and lines that makes up a picture. This pattern of dots and lines is called a _bitmap._ Bitmaps are often called images because that’s how they’re commonly represented. The most common bitmap in use today is created with gray or color. Gray-scale images are created with black dots to make gray. Color images are created using color dots of various sizes to express different color values. You can find more about this process in the nearby sidebar “Creating a color photo with Adobe Lightroom.”
## Working with Raster Images
At its most basic, a raster image is a _collection of digital dots_, a plain bitmap, a plain gray-scale image, or a plain color image. In raster images, you can use tools to create complex artwork and manage different layers, although the program does not have the advanced features of a vector program like Illustrator or Fireworks. Raster images include the following:
* **Paintbrush tool:** The paintbrush tool enables you to paint and move a pixel-based image around. The best use for this tool is to create images that have a realistic effect and work well in print. Use this tool to create complex shapes, images, and objects that are difficult to accomplish with the standard tools. You can use this tool to create an
Adobe Photoshop Elements is the choice of some professionals and casual users because of the following reasons.
Native PDF Reader
This is the only graphic editor that has the ability to read PDF files directly. It is the second most used application on a modern computer, after the web browser.
All popular browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer can view these files, but Adobe Photoshop Elements can read PDFs because of its compatibility with Adobe Acrobat. It also adds features such as OCR, which is a form of optical character recognition. It can recognize text in a PDF document and search it for other text embedded in the same document. When you zoom into an image, Elements can also search for text in the same image.
While the users of other Photoshop alternatives must deal with a different interface, Photoshop Elements is fully compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems.
This makes this product most useful for those who use both Macs and Windows computers. This is not the case with some other alternatives, which are only available for one type of computer. In case a user is switching between a Windows and a Mac, the competition loses points. It is important to understand that Windows was the first OS that was used by graphic editors in the 1980’s.
Adobe Photoshop Elements is free and does not require any annual subscription. Users can obtain it from the official website or download it from the Google Play store and iTunes. However, the trial version lasts for 30 days. After that, you have to pay a monthly or yearly subscription to renew it.
Ease of Use
The Elements interface is simple. This is an important aspect of a software that has to work for those users who do not have much experience with graphic editors.
All elements are placed in categories that can be changed by clicking on the drop-down menu at the top left corner of the screen. You can search for specific elements in the categories or you can import your existing collection of elements from the drop-down menu.
The interface is easy to learn, and it does not take much time to figure out how to use this program.
In addition to its core functions of image editing, such as basic image cropping and editing, printing and saving, Adobe Photoshop Elements offers additional features that differentiate it from other software in its category.
These features can be found in the categories of:
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The Lasso tool can be used to create or edit edges and shapes in images. When you create the tool, you choose the size of a line and its type of behavior when the tool is active. You can use it to draw a line around an object.
The Levels tool, another popular Photoshop tool, allows you to adjust the brightness or contrast of an image. You can change the levels of an image by adjusting the sliders and selecting an area to adjust.
The Magic Wand tool is useful for finding areas in an image that have the same color or shade. You can select a color in the tool window and click on another area to see how that color is distributed there.
The Pathfinder tool allows you to work with the areas of an image. Select the tool window and you see an outline of an image. You can create new paths that form selections and paths. You can move selections by dragging the path.
The Pen tool lets you draw strokes on an image. When you are drawing, you can move the image or free transform parts of an image to a new orientation and location.
The Pencil tool lets you draw freely on the canvas. You can draw shapes or edit paths that you created with the Pen tool. You can also move drawings that you created with other tools.
The Rectangle tool lets you select an object or selection and add a border around it. You can adjust the size and placement of the selection or canvas border.
The Screen tool allows you to use a smaller view of your document or larger one. You can slide the tool window along the left side of your document window.
The Sharpen tool lets you apply a texture to an image. You can adjust the strength of the effect or even add grain or noise.
The Spot Healing Brush tool is an easy way to fix small glitches in images. You point the tool window at a spot and it fills the surrounding area with colors that are similar to the color at the center of the window.
The Spot Healing Brush tool works much like the Clone Stamp tool, but it searches the image for areas similar to the center spot. These areas are then replaced with the color from the center.
The Tile pattern tool allows you to pattern an image. You can apply the pattern to a selection or a whole canvas. You can use it to create masking to produce a gradient.
The Watercolor tool allows you to paint a different color on an image. You can change the size of the brush, shape, and area over which
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