Adobe CS6 Design Standard review
A strong update, with the three core design applications all taking big strides forward
Review Date: 23 Apr 2012
Reviewed By: Tom Arah
Price when reviewed: Upgrade, £219 (£263 inc VAT); Full, £1,032 (£1,238 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Ease of Use
Next up is Illustrator’s overhaul. To start there’s a rationalisation of the toolbox and panels, plus a darker, more modern interface (you can adjust the brightness). More importantly, Illustrator CS6 benefits from native 64-bit support and the same GPU-based Mercury Performance System as Photoshop. By taking advantage of all available RAM and offloading work to the GPU, responsiveness is better – especially when working with large complex files.
Illustrator’s bitmap tracing capabilities have been reworked. The former Live Trace system offered real power but was hidden away and underappreciated. Now the tracing engine has been updated, and everything is managed more efficiently through a new Image Trace panel.
New creative power comes with the ability to apply gradients to strokes. This might sound of only occasional interest – say, for producing rainbow effects – but you can apply gradients within and along strokes, which proves more useful. In particular, by using gradients to subtly change colours and opacity along the stroke and combining this with the existing ability to vary width, you can produce advanced photo-realistic drawings with only a few lines.
The real highlight of Illustrator CS6 is its new pattern handling capabilities. Select your starting objects and hit the Make Pattern command, and they open into a dedicated tiling environment. Using the Pattern Options panel, you can then select from different pattern types and control the tiling boundary. The result is a seamlessly tiling swatch that can be applied as a fill and creatively blended to create the richest possible formatting.
Illustrator often seems like Photoshop’s forgotten cousin but, as its new pattern capabilities demonstrate, there are many graphic jobs that are far more efficiently handled via vectors. After 25 years, Illustrator is still going surprisingly strong.
With big upgrades to the three main applications, Design Standard comes away from the CS6 overhaul very well. It remains a strong suite.
Author: Tom Arah
- IBM's Watson answers customers' questions
- New CEO reorganises Intel to target "new devices"
- Dell profits slide 79% amid buyout talks
- Forget cloud subscriptions: users prefer standard licences
- McAfee: cloud storage could help spread viruses
- Analysts question Windows 8 as UK PC shipments slump
- Google pools storage across Gmail and Drive
- Ofcom accused of killing off VoIP competition
- ShoreTel dock turns iPhones and iPads into desk phones
- Bill Gates says iPad users "frustrated"
- Flickr redesign: is it enough to tempt photographers back?
- Hands on with the new Google Maps
- Nokia Lumia 925 review: first look
- Why I won't subscribe to Creative Cloud
- GoPro camera strapped to a remote-control helicopter: the ultimate boy's toy
- Acer Iconia A1 review: first look
- Acer Aspire P3 review: first look
- Acer Aspire R7 review: first look
- How we produce the PC Pro podcast
- Google Now draining iPhone battery
- Software subscriptions return us to a life of servitude
- How to get a job in cloud computing
- Are today's tech start-ups simply get-rich-quick schemes?
- Choosing the right tablet for business
- Best free antivirus for 2013
- The best business broadband: how to choose the right package
- Choosing your web hosting package: space, bandwidth, service-level agreements and email handling
- Windows Server 2012 features in-depth
- How to protect your business against spear phishing
- How to install virtual servers with Hyper-V
- The ICO's shame-faced u-turn on cookies
- Start8 and ModernMix: making Windows 8 work on a desktop
- How to boost your mobile reception
- How to fix Facebook: Social Fixer
- Taking the stress out of WordPress updates
- Where to download free web fonts
- Turn your tablet into a Sky+ remote control
- How to measure the success of a new IT system
- Three years on: the state of the tablet market
- Windows 8: what works and what doesn't
There are dozens of exciting prizes up for grabs on PC Pro Competitions. All our competitions are free to enter. Try your luck.ENTER NOW