We've long admired Lynda Weinman's work as both a graphic design author and instructor. Among many other titles, she's responsible for the classic Designing Web Graphics.4. Weinman's personally taught thousands of web designers in live classes, and the resources at her Lynda.com site have helped hundreds of thousands more.
In Weinman's HOT (Hands-On Training) series, she's connected the best of her teaching in print with the best of her live teaching -- and we know no quicker or more effective way to master today's key web and graphic design packages.
Take Adobe's Photoshop 7/ImageReady 3 package, for example. In Photoshop 7/ImageReady for the Web Hands-On Training, Weinman and Lynda.com lead instructor and Adobe software expert Jan Kabili have put together an outstanding start-to-finish course in the core Photoshop/ImageReady features all web designers need to master.
This isn't simply "do this, don't do that": it's in-depth, real-world insight for applying your new skills to real problems. The heart of the book: 110-plus hands-on exercises, each clearly introduced with all the background you need, carefully annotated at every step, and drawing on graphics files provided on CD-ROM. Whenever the material gets really complex, there's usually a QuickTime movie on CD to show you how it's done.
Weinman and Kabili teach all the fundamentals of image mapping, slicing, rollovers, transparent GIFs, animation, optimization, and lots more. You'll find cogent explanations of mysteries like Gamma and spacer.gif; as well as a full chapter on exporting to other Web and graphic design software (including Dreamweaver, GoLive, Illustrator, and QuickTime).
Along the way, this book covers virtually everything that's new for web designers in Photoshop 7. For instance, you'll master the new ImageReady Rollover palette, which has been revamped to look like the Layers palette you know and love, and can show information about every rollover, imagemap hot spot, and animation in your image.
Speaking of rollovers, you'll also learn how to match layer properties across rollover states -- a feature that's extremely handy for unifying layer positions, opacity, and styles regardless of state.
As part of a wonderfully clear discussion of transparency (pardon the pun), the authors walk you through remapping any color in a GIF image to a transparency, so your backgrounds will show through. (Prior to Photoshop 7, you could only make a GIF transparent where the original image was transparent.) You'll also learn a new way to dither partially transparent pixels at the edge of your graphics, thereby blending their edges with patterned web page backgrounds.
Perhaps the highest-profile addition to Photoshop 7 is the new File Browser, a combined image viewer and file manager that's especially handy for organizing your digital camera shots. The book's revamped Interface chapter doesn't just get you comfortable with the File Browser, but also with the rest of Photoshop's complex interface, and with enhancements like reusable custom workspaces, which allow you to quickly restore the settings you like for any common task -- switching, for example, from print to web work in a single command. Along similar lines, you'll learn how to create custom-built, reusable tools by saving sets of options as tool presets.
Some designers will find that lower-profile Photoshop 7 enhancements will do them the most good. Ever optimize a GIF, only to discover unacceptable changes to the colors in your type layer? You'll love weighted optimization of type layers, which protects type colors when you're choosing a color palette for GIF optimization.
Increasingly, designers are creating visuals for data-driven graphics generated on the fly from databases and other external sources. ImageReady now lets you template these graphics -- and this book offers a practical introduction to using these templates. There's also a full chapter on the Photoshop and ImageReady automation features that few designers are making the most of.
We're well aware that few people actually start at the beginning of a book-length course and work straight through to the end. But consider making an exception for this book. The material is superbly organized. You won't get bored or distracted. And you will master Photoshop 7 and ImageReady -- fast. 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.