I recently had an email exchange with a friend about the value (or non-value) of having image-editing tools within QuarkXPress 7 and 8. I had mentioned that I like them (just choose Window> Picture Effects), and he replied: “Yes, they work well, and yes, they probably cover 80 percent of the image editing most non-photographers do. But if you’re already familiar with Photoshop, it’s just as easy (if not easier) to switch to that application than to deal with a new set of tools in XPress.”
I had to disagree: “That’s assuming you already bought and use Photoshop. I can think of two reasons why Quark’s approach makes sense: economics and creativity. Economics: imagine a production shop with dozens of seats of QuarkXPress. It’s possible that you wouldn’t have to buy dozens of copies of Photoshop for those users. Creativity: those users can perform their image work directly within QuarkXPress, and see the results immediately within the context of the layout page — you can’t do that in InDesign, even if you pay for the entire Creative Suite and also pay to upgrade it every 18 months.”
My point hit me in the head twice the next day. I was noodling around with Quark’s Flash tools, Easy Flash from QuarkXPress, and only had a print version of a logo in my layout. Being CMYK, it looked a bit washed out. So, I turned to Picture Effects to nondestructively increase its saturation.
These adjustments produce the identical results as in Photoshop
30 seconds later, the job was fixed. No new image files. No switching to Photoshop. The second time, I needed a grayscale version of an image because in this particular layout, the image would look better in grayscale than in color. Picture Effects to the rescue again: decrease saturation. Done.
I could have used any of these Photoshop-identical filters, but didn’t need to.
So I started thinking… I have Photoshop and I know how to use it reasonably well. But because I remembered that QuarkXPress has Picture Effects built in, I shaved several minutes off of my production time, and didn’t have to keep track of two new image files — saving brain cells as well.
And that started me thinking about all the other dozens of new features added in QuarkXPress 7 and 8 that I don’t immediately think to use. I suspect that I’m in the same boat as zillions of other QuarkXPress users, who haven’t taken the time to incorporate the new features into my way of thinking about QuarkXPress. Now I intend to review all those new features… and use as many of them as I can.
Jay Nelson is the editorial director of PlanetQuark.com, and the editor and publisher of Design Tools Monthly. He’s also the author of the QuarkXPress 8 and QuarkXPress 7 training titles at Lynda.com, as well as the training videos Quark includes in the box with QuarkXPress 7 . In addition, Jay writes regularly for Macworld and Photoshop User magazines and speaks at industry events.