Adobe Photoshop CS4, the latest version of Adobe's flagship image-editing program, will hit the streets practically on the heels of Photoshop CS3, which debuted a little less than 18 months ago.

New masks and adjustments panels

With Photoshop CS4, palettes are out and panels are in. In an effort to reduce dialog box clutter, adjustments such as Levels, Curves, Hue/Saturation, and so forth now happen in a single Adjustments panel, meaning dialog boxes will no longer litter your screen. The new Masks panel is a little more exciting because it lets you feather masks on the fly (nondestructively) and control their density, which lets you make them partially see-through. (Why it's not called opacity is a mystery.)

Also new are "on-image" adjustments for Curves, Black & White, and Hue/Saturation adjustment layers. Instead of making a selection, you can apply the adjustment to a specific tonal range by clicking on the image itself and dragging up or down with your mouse.

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