The Art of Photoshop
Book Review

The Art of Photoshop
Daniel Giordan

Sams Publishing
ISBN 0-672-32270-6
305 pages
$49.99 (US), $77.99 (CAN) UK £36.50

Intended user: Intermediate – Advanced

Although Daniel Giordan has written some of the clearest and best-organized books on “How to Use Photoshop”, he has really outdone himself with his latest, The Art of Photoshop. It showcases Daniel Giordan’s own work with clear step-by-step explanations. It is published in large format -10 x 10 inches- with color illustrations, keyboard shortcuts for both Macintosh and Windows users and screen captures, of the tools in Photoshop that all artists could master.

I must admit, that although I have learned tons from his “how to use” books, this book was a bit over my head. It is definitely aimed at the creative artist crowd! After picking this book up several times just to sit it back down. Several pots of coffee, brought me more than I ever thought I wanted to know about: PhotoShop – The following is a list of actual quotations from the book that I found helpful in understanding some of the artistic effect explained and illustrated throughout the book.

Image Editing:

Optimizing – Tools for Optimizing the Tonal Range – The Histogram Window and The Info Palette are explained in detail – Quote: “the first thing to check is the absolute darkest and lightest pixel values, referred to as the black point and the white point”

Enhancing Focus – Image focusing tools – The Unsharp Mask Dialog Box – “The Unsharp Mask filter enhances the contrast between adjoining pixels, making edges more distinct.” – The Gaussian Blur Dialog Box – “There are many useful blur tools in PhotoshopÕs arsenal, but the most useful for enhancing image focus is Gaussian Blur (Filter, Blur, Gaussian Blur).” – The Add Noise Dialog Box – “The Add Noise filter (Filter, Noise, Add Noise) is useful in creating a soft effect that can act as a counterpoint to sharp focus.”

Curves – Tools For Working with Curves – Curves Dialog Box – “The first basic rule for using the Curves control is that you should keep the gamma line as smooth as possible if you want to create a natural, photographic effect.” – Curves Tonal Grid – “Curves allow you to modify pixels within a given tonal range by clicking and dragging the gamma line up or down.”

Color Correction with Curves – “Open the Info palette before you launch the Curves dialog box so that you can measure specific areas as you’re correcting colors in the image.”

Adjusting Hue and Saturation – “One of the easiest and most powerful color controls in your repertoire is the Channel Mixer.”

Adjusting Layers – “It is possible to create layers that are filled with a color or pattern. Although such layers are technically adjustment layers, they are created in the same way and are associated with the adjustment layer tool set.”

Silhouetting with the Extract Filter – The Extract Dialog Box – “The Extract filter provides a clean professional way to isolate an object, erasing its background layer.” – The Painting Tools – “Although the painting tools control basic functions, the Tool Options area of the dialog box provides the finesse needed to achieve professional results.”

Layer Masks – Layers Mask Controls in the Layers Menu – “Option+click (Mac Users) or Alt+click (Windows users) the Add Layer Mask icon to create a mask that conceals the entire layer.” – Layer Mask Controls in the Layers Palette – “To remove the mask, highlight the mask thumbnail and either click the trash icon at the bottom of the Layers palette or choose Remove Layer Mask from the Layers menu.”

Clone / Stamp Tool – The Stamp Tools – “The Clone Stamp tools samples pixel values from one area and replicates them in another.” – The Clone Stamp Options Bar – “You can set the brush size, blending mode, opacity, flow, and airbrush options, just as you can with any other brush.” – The Pattern Stamp Options Bar – “Instead of selecting a reference point as you do with the Clone Stamp, with the Pattern Stamp, you select a predefined pattern from the Options bar and paint with that.”

Blending Modes – The Blending Modes Menu – “It is often easier to understand each blending option by the general effect it delivers rather than be distracted by how the mode actually works. Blending mode effects can be broken into general categories that can help you anticipate how a mode is going to operate.”

Special Effects:

Custom Brushes – Brush Options Bar – “Even the casual Photoshop users should be familiar with the settings in the paint tools Options bar.” – Brushes Palette – “If you want to push beyond the Options bar and the brush, you’ll have to dig into the Brushes palette, which can be launched by selecting Window, Brushes, or by clicking the Brushes Palette icon in the Options bar.”

Distort Filters – The Distort Filters Submenu – “The difference between the texture and warp Distort effects is like looking at someone through frosted glass and then seeing that person in a funhouse mirror.”

Making Patterns – The Pattern Dialog Box – “The Pattern Maker filter is similar to the Extract and Liquify tools in that it is a self-contained set of controls in its own interface window.” – The Tile History Options – “The Tile History section of the dialog box holds up to 20 separate tile effects, presented in a thumbnail window with forward and back controls you can view the thumbnails in sequence.”

Gradients and Gradient Maps – “Although using and creating gradients may seem pretty straightforward, there are a few things you can do to push the envelope further. Photoshop features a Gradient Map command that maps a gradient to an image or channel. This is a great way to simulate duotones and other graphic effects.”

Liquify Filter – Liquify Dialog Box – “Liquify works its magic by imposing a grid over the image; it distorts the grid along with the underlying pixels.” – View Options Control – “Finally, the Backdrop check box allows you to view the layer being distorted against one or all of the other layers in the file.”

Lighting Effects – The Lighting Effects Dialog Box – “The basic approach to working with Lighting Effects is to add light sources to the image and then set the characteristics for the light, surface, and ambient conditions.”

I confess, I didn’t create anything close to the illustrations showcased in this book. I did find new skills and inspiration, and I also managed the line scribble technique used on several of the illustrations in the book. Only my scribbles were not created with the same creative intention. I feel the book was a little overwhelming, and should have included a little more basic-basic Photoshop “how to” -Daniel Giordan is famous for bringing it down to the Intermediate level, but if you are looking for a book packed with advanced level options to create your own artistic statements -this is your book!

© 2003 Trixie McGuire

MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5

Trixie McGuire

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