To quote Scott Kelby, President of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals: “As a Photoshop author, I hate picking up a book and learning things I didn’t already know. But Deke McClelland done it again! If you want to learn Photoshop CS3 from the ground up, look no further.”
As a true Photoshop master, author of over 20 Photoshop books, and host of hundreds of hours of tutorial-style video training for the great lynda.com Online Training Library, Deke was inducted, in 2002, into the National Association of Photoshop Professionals’ Photoshop Hall of Fame.
His business-like yet personable approach and easy demeanor when teaching the ins and outs of this vast software program are as comfortable as sitting in your favorite easy chair. And that’s exactly how this book/DVD combo is meant to feel.
The book and accompanying DVD are integral parts of the package. Each part is a separate entity unto itself—the DVD is strictly for watching. No practice problems, no aping the screen. Just sit back and watch. The book is the reflection of the DVD and contains all of the examples you could ask for in any given aspect of using the tools in Photoshop CS3. The text is laid out in chapters which follow the DVD, step by step. Because you’ve watched the DVD without any interruptions, like trying out new tools, the familiarity with the new material seems to be more internal, almost intuitive. So when you get to the book the material and examples are easily assimilated. This type of learning is a welcome departure from the usual “lesson, practice” method used in most other technical publications. It’s refreshing, relaxing, and effective.
Before beginning any of the lessons Deke asks us to install a handful of files on the computer’s hard drive, and also to change a few of Photoshop’s preference settings. The suggested preference settings are optional, but Deke feels that some of these settings are “just plain set wrong” by default, and besides, it is much less confusing if teacher and student are in sync. All of the files are provided on the DVD-ROM that accompanies the book, and easy installation steps are given.
There is a folder on the DVD which is entitled dekeKeys Shortcuts. There’s one for the Mac and one for Windows. You will be asked to save these shortcuts in order to complete the task of getting on even footing with Deke. Another folder he asks us to copy, or drag to the desktop, is entitled Lesson Files-PsCS3 1on1 which will be necessary to complete the lesson assignments along with the author. They are the same lessons/images that Deke uses on the DVD. Once that task is done, you’re ready to learn.
When the DVD begins, we see Deke filling us in on the chapter ahead. The first chapter, Navigation and Color Correction, contains lessons 1,2,and 3, which are Navigation, Introducing Levels, and Variations and Camera Raw. If you were to just read about these subjects it wouldn’t take long to start looking at the clock. But in his avuncular style our instructor first gives an overview of the entire chapter and then, as we click on each subsequent lesson, he eases into the details to show us how its done. It couldn’t be easier. If you need to see it again, well, go ahead. Whatever your learning curve is, this “just watch and learn method” can’t be beat.
I’m not going to outline every chapter covered in Adobe Photoshop CS3 One on One. I want to emphasize the Navigation heading as being extremely important, especially for new Photoshop users. The opening screen on Photoshop CS3 can be so daunting, with all its tools and palettes, that it could intimidate the new user. But Deke breaks these things down into manageable bits so the student will not be overwhelmed. Even seasoned Photoshoppers could learn from this lesson. There are features presented which are tucked away, or less obvious, and when pointed out can make a huge difference in the whole user experience.
As Deke tells us, the book/DVD is divided into twelve lessons:
Lesson 1: File management and navigation, including the new Adobe Bridge, as well as the Batch Rename and Contact Sheet II commands
Lesson 2: Brightness and contrast adjustments, including the Levels, Curves, and Shadow/Highlight commands, as well as the Histogram palette
Lesson 3: Color balance adjustments, including the Variations, Hue/Saturation, and Gradient Map commands, as well as the independent digital negative developer Camera Raw
Lesson 4: Selection tools including the lasso, magic wand, and pen tools, as well as the Select menu and Paths palette
Lesson 5: Ways to crop and transform and image, including the crop tool and the Image Size and Canvas Size commands
Lesson 6: Painting and retouching, including the paintbrush, healing brush, and red eye tools, as well as the Brushes and History palettes
Lesson 7: Masking functions, including the Color range and Extract commands, the quick mask mode, and the Channels palette
Lesson 8: Focus and distortion filters, including and the new Smart Sharpen and Vanishing Point commands as well as Photoshop’s most powerful distortion function, Liquify
Lesson 9: Layer functions, including the Layers and Layer Comps palettes, the Layer menu, the Free Transform and Warp commands, and Blending Options
Lesson 10: Text and Shape layers, including the type and shape tools, the Character and Paragraph palettes, and Warp Text
Lesson 11: Layer styles and specialty layers, including Drop Shadow, Bevel and Emboss, the Styles palette, adjustment layers, and the amazing world of smart objects
Lesson 12: Print functions, including the Print with Preview, Color Settings, and Picture Package commands
Also, there’s a handy index in the back of the book which tells where Deke discusses a specific feature.
One of the things the book’s accompanying DVD does not do is reflect the book word for word. In each lesson Deke gives us the basics by introducing us to many of the tools and showing us how to use them by example. Showing ALL the tools and ALL the possibilities would literally be unproductive, and stifle creativity. It would also be highly impractical. After all, Photoshop is merely a tool for image creation. Even Deke himself can’t possibly quantify all the possibilities in a profound program like Photoshop. McClelland admits he hasn’t touched each and every possibility available (he comes real close). But, since he is an expert, he can lead us down the roads we seek, letting us go under our own power to experiment, learn, and create.
One of the most powerful and feared tools in Photoshop is Layers. On the DVD Deke shows us, in Chapter 9, how to organize Layers, their functions, tools, commands, and blending options. He does this through example, and let’s us know right off the bat that he will be giving us a “sense” of how these layers work, but that he will be covering the subject in much greater detail in the book.
This should not discourage people who may feel that their tour guide is abandoning them on the DVD. Quite the contrary. He gives us enough information, which can be viewed as much as needed, so that when we do get to the book we have a strong basic understanding of the subject, in this case, Layers, which frees us up to investigate and learn as we get deeper and deeper into the details.
One of the things I like about this set is its flexibility. There’s enough information on the DVD alone to keep lots of photo imagers busy for the rest of their lives. For those who want more detail, more possibilities, and the knowledge to achieve Photoshop greatness, Adobe Photoshop CS3 One on One will continue that endeavor. And for those who want to go even further by getting into every minute detail that Photoshop has to offer, Deke invites us to get onto www.lynda.com and continue their education with his on-line videos. That series will make you a mini Deke McClelland, or at least expert in Photoshop CS3.
If there’s a better way to learn the power of Photoshop CS3 I surely don’t know what it is. Short of the Vulcan Mind Meld this has to be one of the easiest and quickest ways to learn what at first seems to be an intimidating subject. The way this author breaks the steps down and then leads us into the future is brilliant. Go ahead. Check out the myriad of Photoshop books out there. I know that when you compare this set with any of the others, and there are some good ones to be sure, you will put this one at the top of your list. And rightfully so.