Photoshop Elements 2 offers a huge fraction of Photoshop's power, repackaged for simplicity, and priced at one-sixth of what you'd pay for Photoshop. To get the most out of Photoshop Elements 2, you'll want a really good book -- but you don't want the book to cost more than the software did. Absolute Beginner's Guide to Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 is what you're looking for: easy, practical, thorough, intelligent...and such a deal.
For surprisingly little cash, you can have expert guidance on nearly everything Photoshop Elements 2 can do, from image capture to editing, through delivery via Web, email, or print.
Your author, Lisa Lee, is no stranger to these topics: her many books include Adobe Photoshop 6 Digital Darkroom and Que's Introducing Adobe Photoshop Elements, which helped thousands of users get their first taste of Elements.
Lee starts by making you comfortable with the Photoshop Elements interface (running under both Windows and the Mac) -- including the Work Area, palettes, image window, and menus. She then demonstrates how to customize Photoshop Elements 2 to reflect what you're doing and how you prefer to work.
Next, there's extensive coverage of scanning, acquiring, and creating images, from capturing scanned images at the right resolution to viewing thumbnails of digital camera images with Photoshop Elements' File Browser.
You'll learn how to open and convert new images, establish the right document settings for print or Web, resize your images, even edit images you've found in an Acrobat PDF file. There's also a full chapter on printing -- including scaling images to print, creating contact sheets, using "Picture Package" to print many copies of an image in different sizes on the same page, and troubleshooting printing problems.
Like Photoshop Elements 2 itself, this book focuses heavily on correcting and combining images, as well as designing complex images. While easier to use than Photoshop, "Elements" features still require skill. Lee helps you master all of them: color correction, filters, effects, layers, repairing images, composites, GIF animation, panoramas, web photo galleries, and much more.
She begins with an easy-to-understand overview of how color works inside and outside a computer, and why what you see isn't always what you get. Then, it's on to working with Photoshop Elements' core color-correction features, including the Color Picker, the Swatches Palette, and settings for hue, saturation, brightness, contrast, and tonal range.
You can do some pretty slick stuff with these tools -- for example, creating composites that apply the same tonal correction to each image. Lee covers all that. She also discusses using Photoshop Elements' selection tools to apply tonal range and color corrections to any portion of your image, and making adjustments to lighting (for example, to darken a sky with the Adjust Backlighting tool).
After brief coverage of Posterize, Invert, and other color effects, Lee introduces several of the color correction tools you're likely to use most, including Replace (essentially a search-and-replace feature for colors); and Red-Eye Brush (for making the people in your portraits look less like members of Sauron's orc army).
Then, it's on to filters -- yet another area where Photoshop Elements offers impressive power. You'll learn when and how to use Blur; discover nifty artistic filters like Conté Crayon; work with texture and text effects; and briefly consider when you might use multiple filters together.
Lee presents a full chapter on using layers and layer styles to gain more control over your images without locking yourself into changes you're not sure about yet; detailed coverage of adding text and shapes to your images; and a close look at repairing old and damaged photographs. She also walks you step-by-step through creating simple animation and stitched-together panoramas.
The book concludes with easy instructions for creating PDF-based slide shows and web-based photo galleries -- two great ways to share your photos with family, friends, and the world. Together, Adobe's software and Lee's Absolute Beginner's Guide can help you do nearly anything with your images -- painlessly. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.