Few Photoshop users will fail to recognize the name Deke McClelland. But if you’re new around these parts, or if you’ve spent the last 20 years of your professional career in a cave, we’ll indulge you.
McClelland’s been writing insightful, fun-to-read books about Photoshop for more than a decade. Adobe chose him to host the interactive “Best of Photoshop 7.0” gallery that came with your copy of Photoshop 7. In 2002, he was inducted into -- get this -- the Photoshop Hall of Fame. But he’s best known for his magnificent Photoshop Bibles -- the bestselling computer graphics books ever.
The Photoshop Bibles have always had a proven formula: soup-to-nuts coverage, presented in McClelland’s friendly, funny, instantly recognizable voice. But now McClelland’s messing with the formula.
No, the tone hasn’t changed: McClelland still shoots from the hip, thank heavens. But where the Photoshop Bibles have always been huge black-and-white books covering everything but the kitchen sink, Photoshop 7 Bible, Professional Edition is in full color from start to finish. There are more than 1,000 separate illustrations. All the photos are printed at 300 pixels per inch or higher. All the full-color screen shots are meticulously diagrammed. And, for the first time, the book’s printed on glossy paper -- so, finally, it’s as much a pleasure to look at as it is to read.
At 650 pages, Photoshop 7 Bible, Professional Edition is some 40 percent shorter than the “regular” Photoshop Bible. (Color costs beaucoup bucks.) So McClelland has refocused the text on 14 crucial aspects of using Photoshop: areas where he can especially supercharge your creativity and productivity.
Where the Photoshop Bibles have always catered to beginners and experienced users alike, this book rips away the beginners’ coverage. (No more coverage of Preferences. These pages are dedicated to more challenging stuff, like creating your own custom effects.)
What’s more, while there’s some overlap with Photoshop 7 Bible, the majority of these pages are new. And if you’re upgrading from Photoshop 6 Bible, you’ll have never seen 85 percent of this text.
The Professional Edition is focused more than ever before on creative technique. You’ll find exclusive or substantially expanded coverage of hue and saturation adjustment; the sRGB color space; the Channel Mixer; layer styles; history; Render filters; automated actions; batch renaming and processing; arbitrary and displacement maps; digital photography; and Web graphics techniques -- to name just a few topics.
The coverage of Levels and Curves is representative of McClelland’s depth -- and attitude. He starts by trashing Brightness/Contrast, the feature “laymen” would use to adjust luminosity levels: “The layman is a simple man and Brightness/Contrast is a simple command. They make a perfect pair… Granted, Brightness/Contrast is simple, but it’s also misleading, indiscriminate, and arbitrary.” As a pro, you want to do the job with Levels and Curves -- always.
So McClelland shows you expert techniques for using Levels to adjust specific brightness values in highlights, shadows, and midtones in any color channel, one channel at a time. He explains histograms so you can actually understand them; and completely demystifies the powerful (if cumbersome) Curves and Gradient Map commands. You’ll learn when to use Auto Levels, when to use Auto Contrast, when not to, and how to tweak these Auto features to do what you really want.
You’ll also appreciate McClelland’s 70-page discussion of Photoshop’s best destructive filters, Pixelate, Distort, and Render. Here, he introduces a really cool “Crystal Halo” effect, and shows how to create exceptional mezzotints. He presents quick, effective ways to create custom lighting effects, clouds, thick-liquid droplets, and concentric pond ripples. He even shows how to create metallic coatings with gleaming highlights and crisp shadows -- without using the often-disappointing Chrome filter.
There’s a lot more. An excellent chapter on masks and extractions. Expert coverage of Web graphics, including compressing color palettes; regulating compression and dithering with masks; and using diffusion transparency dithering. Great ideas for using corrective filters to heighten focus and contrast, and to convert images to line drawings. This might just be the Technicolor Photoshop Bible of your dreams. 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.