Adobe Photoshop CS One-on-One

Author: Deke McClelland

Review by Iris Yoffa
Journal of the Tucson Computer Society
Tucson, Arizona

"Some of you may recognize the author’s name, Deke McClelland, from the Total Training series of instructional videos for graphics and desktop publishing applications. This volume is the first in a soon to be series of first-rate instructional tools for all levels of users. ..."

Adobe Photoshop CS One-on-One is your chance to master Photoshop under the direction of a professional trainer with nearly 20 years of computer design and imaging experience. "Read the book, watch the videos, do the exercises."

The companion CD contains 2 hours of video instruction, a segment for each of the 12 lessons, the files needed to work through the exercises, and some of Deke's customized settings. The topics presented in the chapters are: File management and navigation, Brightness and contrast adjustments, Color balance adjustments, Selection tools, Ways to crop and transform an image, Painting and retouching, Masking functions, Focus adjustments, Layer functions, Text and shape layers, Layer styles and adjustment layers, and Print functions. Each chapter begins with a page introducing the topic. The next page lets you know what to expect in the lesson, which project files you will need, a little about the video lesson on the CD, and a listing of the keyboard shortcuts for both Mac and PC that you will use in this segment. The explanations of the subject matter and step-by-step instructions for the exercises are interspersed with "pearls of wisdom" tips, an abundance of full color screen shots and inserts explaining technologies and terms. Each chapter ends with a "What did you learn?" page, a brief quiz where you match up a "Key Concept" with the corresponding description. According to Deke, the best practice when editing an image is to start with those modifications that are most significant (do the most pixel manipulation), and work through to those that effect the most subtle changes. The chapters are arranged to cover the topics in this order.

I followed the author's suggestion, read a chapter's introductory information, watched the accompanying video, and worked through the exercises. Got stuck and watched the video again, and again. I did feel as though Deke was sitting there beside me, explaining the concepts and 'how to do it'. I just kept watching and listening until I could retain what I needed to know to understand what I was doing in those exercises. And it worked!

The video instruction and screen shots shown in the book use the Mac release of the program. The Photoshop interface is virtually the same on the Windows operating system and all references to keyboard shortcuts are given for both operation systems. Directions for accessing commands and tools include navigating with the mouse, accessing the menus and using the keyboard shortcuts. The author expresses a definite preference for the keyboard shortcuts whenever they are available.

My Photoshop use has been limited to correcting image color, hue and contrast and using the focus manipulation tools. I had no idea how limited my experience had been. I was most impressed by how I could quickly apply the AutoLevels, AutoColor and AutoContrast commands to duplicates of an image and then apply a percentage of one edited image to another to achieve amazing results. The Contrast/Brightness dialog is a tool of the past for me. Next stop, Unsharp Mask. I worked with the Radius setting to define the amount of 'halo effect' to apply to the image edges and then entered a value to define the amount of sharpening to apply. I followed the directions for using the Fade command to fade the unsharp filter settings into the image. This softened the resulting modifications and avoided any color distortions. Photoshop does a remarkable job of correcting many distortion and focus problems in just a few steps, once you know what you're doing.

In Summary:
This is a great way to learn Photoshop or fine-tune your existing skills. I was very impressed that I could make remarkable corrections to my digital images in just a few steps by following Deke's step-by-step instructions. The man has not only been teaching for years, but communicating in such a way that the complex really does become simple and those mental barriers against learning really do just dissolve!

Where to get it:
Adobe Photoshop CS One-on-One
Author: Deke McClelland
ISBN: 0-596-00618-7
Deke Press in association with O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North
Sebastopol, California 95472
$39.99 USA