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Adobe CS6 Master Collection PC Review - -

Installation 9.0
Ease of use 8.0
Usefulness 9.5
Value 9.5
Distributor: Adobe
Review Date:
Jan 2013
Josh Wright


Adobe CS6 Master Collection

About our reviewer: Josh Wright is a professional writer, illustrator and graphic designer

Adobeís new Master Collection Creative Suite 6 has arrived. And as much as you creative types are looking forward to the new toys Adobe has to offer, the hefty price-tag which always comes with it, Iím sure fills you with dread. Thus we must all face the inevitable Ė with great power comes great financial responsibility. As itís always been with CS suites, youíre ultimately going to be paying for stuff you donít need and never use to get at the stuff you canít live without... but then again this is CS6 we're talking about! Indeed CS6 is a whale of package, and makes MS Office look like Flipper in comparison.

  • Design without limits:
    • Content-aware technologies in Photoshop Extended
    • Simplified 3D design in Photoshop Extended
    • Intuitive video creation in Photoshop Extended
    • Blur Gallery in Photoshop Extended
    • Seamless vector pattern creation in Illustrator
    • Powerful image tracing in Illustrator
    • Video stabilizing tools
    • 3D Camera Tracker in After Effects
    • Ray-traced, extruded text and shapes in After Effects
    • Variable mask feathering in After Effects
    • SpeedGrade for powerful color grading

    Work at the speed of your imagination:

    • Adobe Mercury Graphics Engine in Photoshop Extended
    • Adobe Mercury Performance System in Illustrator CS6
    • Global Performance Cache in After Effects
    • Blazing-fast FTP performance in Dreamweaver
    • Mercury Playback Engine in Adobe Premiere Pro
    • New, modern interfaces
    • New and reengineered design tools in Photoshop Extended
    • Accelerated, nondestructive image cropping in Photoshop Extended
    • Linked content in InDesign
    • Content Collector tools in InDesign
    • Efficient, fluid video editing in Adobe Premiere Pro
    • After Effects and Illustrator integration
    • Rolling shutter repair in After Effects
    • Advanced motion tracking in After Effects
    • Sprite sheet generation in Flash Professional
    • Faster, more precise audio editing in Adobe Audition
    • Real-time clip stretching in Adobe Audition
    • Real-time performance in SpeedGrade
    • Footage ingest and logging with Prelude
    • Auto-save and recovery in Photoshop Extended

    Deliver virtually anywhere:

    • Alternate and Liquid Layout in InDesign
    • Fluid Grid Layout for devices in Dreamweaver
    • Support for the latest HTML5/CSS3 standards in Dreamweaver
    • jQuery and PhoneGap support in Dreamweaver
    • Broad format support in Adobe Premiere Pro
    • PDF forms within InDesign
    • Common Library elements in Fireworks
    • Mobile platform and device support in Flash Professional
    • Single-codebase mobile applications in Flash Builder Premium
    • Business Catalyst integration
    • Integration with other tools and services

The primary question when it comes to reviewing CS6 is where to start. The package is so huge and varied itís sure to overwhelm all but the most seasoned professionals. Speaking as someone whoís been employing Adobe for over a decade, there are still applications in it Iíve never used. Thatís why Iíll give it to you straight off the top: Ė should you lay down the thousand or so bucks to get your hands on CS6 Master Suite?


If youíre running CS4 or less, then probably yes. If youíre running CS5, then probably no. If youíve never used Adobe before? Then get yourself to a class first. CS is professional suite - it ainít for amateurs - unless youíre a kid, that is. I donít know what it is, but kids just seem to have a knack for learning without the manual. Iím sure if I was still 12 Iíd have mastered Flash within a week. But I digress.

Firstly Adobeís flagship app, Photoshop. Has much changed since CS5? The interface has been tweaked, it looks a little darker and slicker. There are new painting presets to give a more natural look to artwork. Enhanced 3D animation ó including cameras, lights, materials, and meshes for those who love that stuff, new render modes for shadows, viewing 3D artwork from multiple angles while editing.

And now you can Ďaccurately merge multiple 3D objects in a single scene so they can interact with the same lighting and cameras,í or so says the literature - personally l just like to draw horseys. In fact thereís heaps of new 3D import/exports sound and Flash options, so if youíre into all that, then start saving up, because CS6 is for you.

Type also has been improved; you can save time and ensure a consistent look with type styles, which let you apply formatting to selected characters, lines, or paragraphs of text with a single click.

Thereís vector improvements, using vector layers to apply strokes and even add gradients to vector objects, and sharper vector rendering. A new lighting Effects Gallery makes it easier to visualize  lighting enhancements. You can give your work the look of a fine painting with the Oil Painting filter powered by the Mercury Graphics Engine.


Control the style of your brush as well as the direction and shine of your lighting for a superior look. Improved airbrushing, brush enhancements, 10-bit deep color support, an improved Properties panel, a better Adobe Bridge, more TIFF support, automatic re-sampling - phew! I could go on and on. Put simply, Photoshop is as impressive as ever, and really, if youíre using anything else, then too bad for you. Thereís only one person to respect more than a master of such a package, and thatís someone who actually works with a pencil and paper.

Iíve never had sex wearing a wetsuit, but I have created art on Illustrator, so I think I know what it would feel like. Using Adobe, the pleasures of old-school medium and surface are replaced by mathematical precision and an eternally fiddly interface. This hasnít really changed since the original CS. Fortunately weíve all slowly gotten used to it, and Adobe has tried (a bit) to make the grind of plot-points and Bezier curves a bit more intuitive.

Illustrator CS6 has been rebuilt from the inside out to be faster and more intuitive, with more stability when working on complex files. One thing Iíve always wanted to see improvement on is the LiveTrace, and now finally, Adobe has stepped up. You can now confidently convert raster images to editable vectors with a new, powerful tracing engine in Illustrator. You get clean lines, accurate fitting, and reliable results.

Also you can now create and edit patterns up to 75% faster, and automatically collect all your files for production in a few clicks. In fact, the best way to get Illustrator CS6 is with Adobeís new ĎCreative Cloudí membership. With Creative Cloud, you wonít have to wait for future releases ó you get new features the moment they're available.


So what is Creative Cloud? Itís a membership that gives you the entire collection of CS6 tools. Love print? Interested in websites and iPad apps? Ready to edit video? Then sign up for Creative Cloud. Creative Cloud members automatically get access to new products and exclusive updates as soon as theyíre released. And with cloud storage and the ability to sync to any device, your files are always right where you need them. Donít forget though, youíll have to pay a monthly subscription for it. Sheesh!

InDesign has always been a versatile desktop publishing application giving you control over design and typography. New features include a new Adaptive Design Tools to repurpose layouts to look great on a variety of pages sizes, orientations, or devices; improved productivity with time-savers such as the split window, Content Collector tools, grayscale preview, easy access to recently used fonts, and once again, the chance to access Creative Cloud.

Not much has changed in regards to Acrobat, except once again the opportunity to pay for Creative Cloud. Flash however grows from strength to strength with each new inception. Adobe Flash Professional CS6 is now a very powerful authoring environment for creating animation and multimedia content across desktops and multiple devices, including tablets, smartphones, and televisions.

Upgrading to CS6 and you will be able to combine multiple symbols and animation sequences into a single optimized sprite sheet for better workflow, build more engaging content using native extensions to access device-specific capabilities, and create assets and animations for use in HTML5. You can leverage a new extension (available separately) to create interactive HTML5 content by building on core animation and drawing capabilities in Flash Professional. Thereís animation sheet generation for exporting symbols and animation sequences to quickly produce sprite sheets to help improve the gaming experience, workflow, and performance.

Platform and device support is getting wider too; CS6 allows you to reach Android and iOS devices by targeting the latest Adobe Flash Player and AIR runtimes. Iíd be lying if I said I was a Flash-master, but it for those who are, CS6 is a must-have.

Dreamweaver has always been an issue with this reviewer. At the risk of opening myself to ridicule, as I youngster I much preferred MS FrontPage; itís interface was more obvious and intuitive. However like most I forced myself to get used to Macromediaís Dreamweaver, and it seems as each new version comes out, itís new owners Adobe are slowly repairing their old, mean-spirited GUI. Dreamweaver CS6 allows creating cross-platform and cross-browser-compatible web designs using the CSS3-based Fluid Grid Layout system.

You now have the ability to visually construct complex web designs and page layouts without getting buried in code. Thereís easily addition of audio and video to your HTML5-based websites and applications. A new reorganized Insert panel to more intuitively add HTML5 tags and elements. Transferring large projects is also now faster and more reliable using a robust, multi-threaded FTP engine. Youíll be uploading site files faster and more efficiently. Previewing and testing pages is now easier too using updated Live View functionality. Live View uses the latest version of the WebKit rendering engine to provide excellent HTML5 support.


Phew! So much Adobe! See what I mean about this being as giant package? Weíve just scraped the surface of half a dozen monster applications and weíre still barely halfway there. For the video workers out there Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects remain the industry standard. Premiere Pro CS6 software combines an incredible performance with a sleek, revamped interface and a host of fantastic new creative features, including Warp Stabilizer for stabilizing footage, dynamic timeline trimming, expanded multicam editing, adjustment layers, and more. You can work natively and in real time with the latest mobile, DSLR, HD, and RAW formats with newly enhanced stability and performance, plus all-new creative tools simplify the editing workflow to help you meet your production deadlines.

Meanwhile After Effects CS6 software lets you deliver cinematic visual effects and motion graphics faster than years gone by with a new Global Performance Cache. Thereís built-in text and shape extrusion, new mask feathering options, a fast, easy-to-use 3D Camera Tracker. Thereís now room for more experimentation without re-rendering, powerful new 3D capabilities, and over 90 new and updated built-in effects.

Adobe Audition has replaced SoundBooth for CS6, and while Iím sure for those in the know itís a meaty package, for me it felt just as unfriendly as the old. If someone can tell me how to paste multiple mp3s together quickly and easily, Iím all ears, because this program still wonít explain itself.

Final Thoughts?

So letís sum this up: Adobe CS remains the ultimate design package for tackling any creative digital challenge that comes your way. The CS6 toolset allows you to explore new ways to design amazing print, web, and video experiences, but itís not for the feint-hearted. If youíve got a lazy thousand bucks hereís whatís inside:

Photoshop CS6 Extended

Illustrator CS6

InDesign CS6

Acrobat X Pro

Flash Professional CS6

Flash Builder 4.6 Premium Edition

Dreamweaver CS6

Fireworks CS6

Adobe Premiere Pro CS6

After Effects CS6

Adobe Audition CS6

SpeedGrade CS6

Prelude CS6

Encore CS6

Bridge CS6

Story CS6

Media Encoder CS6

Mastering them all will take years, but fear not, creative-types Ė it could be worse. One day you might actually have to learn to draw. Shudder!

System Requirements
  • Processor:
    • Intel Pentium 4 or AMD Athlon 64 with 64-bit support
    • Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Phenom II required for Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects, and Encore
    • Intel Core i7 required for Adobe SpeedGrade

    Operating System:

    • Windows XP* with Service Pack 3
    • Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (64-bit) required for Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects and Encore
    • Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 required for SpeedGrade

    Hard Disk:

    • 14.5 GB of available space for installation
    • Additional free space required during installation (cannot install on removable flash storage devices)
    • Additional space required for cache, preview files, and other working files (10 GB Recommended)
    • 7200 RPM (multiple fast, preferably RAID 0 configured, Recommended) for video products


    • 2 GB of RAM (4 GB Recommended) for Windows 32-bit
    • 4 GB of RAM (8 GB Recommended) for Windows 64-bit

    Optical Drive:

    • DVD-ROM compatible with dual-layer DVDs (DVD+-R burner for burning DVDs; Blu-ray burner for creating Blu-ray Disc media)


    • 1280x900 display with 16-bit color and 512 MB of VRAM; 1680x1050 display required, and second professionally calibrated viewing display recommended for SpeedGrade
    • OpenGL 2.0-capable system
    • Sound card compatible with ASIO protocol or Microsoft WDM/MME
    • Java Runtime Environment 1.6 (included)
    • Eclipse 3.7 (for plug-in installation of Adobe Flash Builder)
    • The following distributions are supported: Eclipse IDE for Java EE and Java Developers, Eclipse Classic , and Eclipse for PHP Developers
    • QuickTime 7.6.6 software required for QuickTime features, multimedia, and HTML5 media playback
    • Dedicated GPU card required for SpeedGrade (for optimal performance in SpeedGrade and for GPU-accelerated features in Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects: NVIDIA Quadro 4000, 5000, or 6000 or other Adobe-certified GPU card with at least 1 GB of VRAM Recommended)
    • Tangent CP200 family or Tangent Wave control surface for SpeedGrade
    • For SDI output, NVIDIA Quadro SDI Output card required for SpeedGrade


    • This software will not operate without activation. Broadband Internet connection and registration are required for software activation, validation of subscriptions, and access to online services. Phone activation is not available

    * Adobe Photoshop Extended 3D features and some GPU-enabled features are not supported on Windows XP


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