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Adobe Creative Suite 5 review

£2,700 inc VAT for Master Collection

Manufacturer: Adobe

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5) features revamped versions of its leading arts, design, video and animation software - plus two new web-design applications, Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder. Here's everything you need to know about Adobe CS5.

Adobe Creative Suite 5 (CS5) features revamped versions of its leading arts, design, video and animation software - plus two new web-design applications, Flash Catalyst and Flash Builder. Here's everything you need to know about Adobe CS5.

Adobe Illustrator CS5

True perspective comes to Illustrator CS5 with the Perspective Grid tool, which allows you to use a grid that supports drawing directly in accurate linear perspectives. You can also create objects in flat space and then apply them to a perspective plane, automatically transforming them into the correct shape.

Adobe Illustrator CS5

Illustrator users also now have the Bristle Brush, offering vector painting that resembles natural brush strokes. Painting control is substantial: you can blend colours and set bristle characteristics such as size, length, thickness, and stiffness or set brush shape and bristle density. You can also finely control stroke width, dashes, arrowheads, and how brushes stretch along a path.

Meanwhile, better corner handling makes stroke shapes behave predictably in tight angles or around sharp points. There's also Draw Inside, which offers instant masking, and the Shape Builder tool, which lets you merge objects, break overlapping shapes into distinct objects, and more.

To prepare graphics for the web, Illustrator offers a new Align to Pixel Grid option, anti-aliasing character options and nine-slice scaling, enabling you to resize symbols while maintaining proportions.

Illustrator CS4 introduced multiple artboards; in CS5 you can work on 100 artboards of varying sizes in a document. There's also now an Artboards panel, where you can add, delete, and duplicate boards with panel controls or keyboard shortcuts.

Adobe InDesign CS5

Of all the new Creative Suite applications, InDesign has seen the greatest efficiency boosts, with a raft of apparently small but incredibly handy little additions that solve bumps in the process of laying out pages.

Adobe InDesign CS5

So, for example, the Selection tool now allows you to quickly rotate frames, and position and scale frame content such as images using on-screen handles.

Persistent frame fitting maintains the relationship between images and their frames, even when the frame dimensions and white space change. New controls make it simple to change the look and feel of a frame as you go, for example dragging a corner of a frame to directly affect its radius and shape. There's new support for different page sizes in a single document. InDesign also now automatically installs packaged fonts when you open a packaged document.

The useful Span Columns paragraph attribute means that, you can have a headline or crosshead span two columns. Split Columns does as the name suggests. Creating interactive documents is easier than before in InDesign CS5, as Adobe has tidied its controls into the new Animation, Object States, Timing, Media and Preview panels.

NEXT: Dreamweaver CS5 >>

Adobe Creative Suite 5 Expert Verdict »

Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 processor (Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Phenom II recommended), Multicore Intel processor with 64-bit support
Windows XP/Vista/7
2GB of RAM (4GB or more recommended), Mac OS X v10.5.7 or v10.6.3
24.3GB of available hard-disk space for installation
additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash-based storage devices)
1280x900 display (1280x1024 recommended) with qualified hardware-accelerated OpenGL graphics card, 16-bit color, and 256MB of VRAM
Adobe-certified GPU card for GPU-accelerated performance in Adobe Premiere Pro
visit the Adobe Premiere Pro system requirements page for the latest list of supported cards
DVD-ROM drive
QuickTime 7.6.2
Adobe Flash Player 10
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

So is Adobe Creative Suite 5 a must-buy? That all depends on your needs. In CS4, Adobe seemed to concentrate on improving integration between its applications. This time round, the focus is on improving each individual app, and the decision over whether this is a must-have upgrade for you or not depends on how much you will benefit from the special new tools of each program. Some, such as Roto Brush in After Effects or the Gap tool and Split Columns in InDesign, promise to be huge timesavers. Photoshop's Content-Aware Fill also offers a quick way to carry out a common task, while the new brushes it shares with Illustrator which mimic real paint effects will have a big impact on the digital art scene. Many will benefit from the ability to explore iPhone app development in Flash. Other changes, such as the move to 64-bit for After Effects and Photoshop for Mac, offer a big enough performance boost to convince many a wavering creative.

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