SAMS Teach Yourself Adobe Photoshop 5 in 21 Days

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Type of Book
Title: Sams Teach Yourself Adobe Photoshop 5 in 21 Days
Author: T. Michael Clark
Publisher: Sams Publishing Company
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 504
ISBN: 0-672-31300-6
Price: $39.99

Sams Teach Yourself Adobe Photoshop 5 in 21 Days is a tutorial guide for Photoshop 5. In 21 easy sessions, it leads you, step-by-step, through the program. It will provide you with a strong foundation for working with Photoshop's tools, palettes, and dialog boxes. It walks you through all levels of examples--from beginning to more advanced subjects such as Web graphics. There is a CD that comes with the book and it includes:

  • All the example files from the book categorized by chapter;
  • Over 7,000 ready-to-use images from Digital Stock;
  • Adobe Certification Expert--a prep test developed in cooperation with Adobe;
  • Third-party demo software from Adobe, Macromedia, Netscape, and others.

The User's Guide that comes with Photoshop 5 is very adequate and thorough. But User Guides never seem to have enough tutorials. This book does. The author, T. Michael Clark, is a graphic artist, who owns and operates GrafX Design, a Web site that features online tutorials for Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, and CorelDraw, among other topics. His site is: and is well-worth a visit for all the free information he gives you.

The Sams Teach Yourself series offers other books that are written with a clear and easy manner. The series is aimed at the reader who does not already know how to use an application. The material is presented in a tutorial approach to guide the reader through the learning process. The series includes: Sams Teach Yourself in 10 Minutes; Sams Teach Yourself in 24 Hours; and Sams Teach Yourself in 21 Days.

User Level
Beginning and Intermediate PC users. I would highly recommend this book for beginner and intermediate computer users or anyone just starting out with Photoshop 5. The author has written the book with an intuitive feel for what someone unfamiliar with the program would want to learn, and he knows how to make it enjoyable for them. The book is clear; easy to follow; and full of tips, hints, and examples for anyone learning Photoshop 5. Advanced users just might pick up a few tips.

The book is divided into 21 days or chapters. Each session includes step-by-step tutorials on how to use the features covered in that chapter. These chapters are written with the goal of helping you gain the knowledge you need to get you going as quickly as possible. Each chapter builds on the previous one, helping you tackle the program in small, bite-sized pieces. This method will move you from the most basic uses of Photoshop 5 to some of the more complex uses with relative ease. I went through the book, from cover to cover, and performed many of the tutorials. Below, I will briefly describe each chapter and present my images that I made following the tutorials.

Week One

Day 1: Introducing the Photoshop Interface--Get acquainted with Photoshop's menus, toolbox tools, and palettes and learn to navigate with keyboard shortcuts.

Day 2: Customizing Photoshop Preferences--Includes everything you need to know about customizing Photoshop's preferences: displays, cursors, rules, guide, memory, and more. I thought this was an excellent chapter on preferences, and used it for a problem I had with my plug-ins and scratch disks.

Day 3: Checking Out the New 5.0 Features--Briefly reviews the new features of version 5, including coverage of color management, the History palette, the new tools, enhanced actions capabilities, and the text editor. I liked the fact that there was a thorough separate chapter explaining the new features. Some books will give you just a cursory description in the front of the book and you have to go to individual chapters to get a full picture.

Day 4: Getting a Handle on File Types--Covers Photoshop's most frequently used file formats and how to use them to your advantage. This chapter covers just the right amount of information of file types so you don't get overwhelmed by the complexity but can impress your friends with your new knowledge of such concepts as: lossy, JPEG, and GIF. There is a great table showing the size of a file when it is saved using different file formats.
Day 5: Importing Existing Images and Creating New Ones--Teaches you how to acquire images, whether you're using a digital camera, scanning a photograph, or creating an image from scratch. The image to the right indicates how you can use filters.

Day 6: Saving, Exporting, and Printing Images--An easy day of saving and printing your images and learning to export them for use on the Web. The chapter provides pertinent information on saving a file in the GIF format.

Day 7: Calibrating Your System and Setting Color Modes--Get acquainted with color models, color depth, color palettes, and color calibration. Color models can be confusing to beginners. This chapter presents just enough information on the differences between grayscale, duotone, indexed color, RGB, CMYK, etc. to get you started.

Week Two

Day 8: Understanding the Editing Tools--Learn what to do with the editing tools to Dodge Toolcreate great imagery: dodging, burning, blurring, sharpening, smudging, and rubber stamping. This is a fun chapter. The author provides you with an image of his wife to use with the Dodge and Burn tools. I followRubber Stamp Tooled the tutorial in the book, using the Dodge tool to lighten the eyes on the image. One of my favorite tools from this chapter is the Rubber Stamp tool. The author describes how you can use this tool to remove a leash from an image of a dog. As the dog images were not provided on the CD, I scanned them in, used the Rubber Stamp tool as described in the book, and eliminated the leash.

Day 9: Creating Selections and Defining Paths--Find out how the selectiSelectionson tools work, as well as how to define and edit both selections and paths. There is a sample image on the CD to use to learn how to select text that is filled with several colors by selecting the background, use the Similar command to add to the selection, and use the Inverse command to then select the text. I followed the tutorial, cut out the text, and pasted it into a new image with a different background. This is a valuable chapter on material that can be difficult. The author provides just enough information and examples to explain the material without overwhelming you.
Day 10: Using the Painting and Drawing Tools--Covers working with the painting and drawing tools, customizing the brush styles, and understanding the ins and outs of anti-aliasing. I had fun with this chapter using gradients.

Day 11: Masking with Layer Masks and Quick Masks--Everything you need to know about layer masks, quick masks, and Adjustment layers. The author provides a variety of images on the CD to use for the tutorials in this chapter. It is really helpful to bAdjustment Layere working on the same images as the author before you attempt to use the techniques on your own. The images to the right are an example of what you can do with Adjustment layers, such as change the color balance, change the brightness/contrast, and change the color cast. The original image, from the CD, was somewhat dark, a little too green, and needed to be brightened. Following the tutorial, I produced a much better image.

Day 12: Working with Channels--Get a handle on what a channel is, asChannels well as how channels can be used to create selections and special lighting Buttoneffects. The image to the right shows how you can change the color of one portion of an image while leaving the rest unchanged by using a channel to create a selection. Using an image from the CD and the tutorial, I changed the color of the iris from green to mauve. The button on the left was made using a tutorial. I worked with channels and then the Render>Lighting Effects filter to give the button a 3D effect.
Day 13: Layering Your Images--Learn how to work with the LTextured Buttonayers palette, create and apply multiple layers, and work with the various layering modes. The monkey image was created from a tutorial using layer links and transform effects. Using different layering modes can be used to make unique buttons such as the textured button to the left made from a tutorial.

Day 14: Typing In Great Type Effects--Create, import, select, and edit youText Effectsr text, and learn how to design special effects with type. Photoshop comes with some built-in filters that work wSunsetsell with text. They are fun to play with and easy to use. The image to the left is an example of how you can select a portion of an image and define a pattern with it to fill in text. I started with the sunset picture from the CD and created the filled sunsets text.

Week Three

Day 15: Applying Filter Effects--Install and work with native and third-party filters, anEffectsd use artiFlowersstic, brush stroke, and distortion filters to come up with neat special effects. Photoshop comes with a variety of filters that you can apply in a matter of seconds and they produce unique images. The fruit photo on the right has been enhanced with an Artistic filter called the Colored Pencil. The dandelion photo has been enhanced with Brush Strokes filters: Accented Edges and Ink Outline. This chapter also covers third-party plug-ins such as products by Auto F/X, Extensis, and Alien Skin. Please see our reviews of some of these plug-ins.

Day 16: Correcting the Color--More coverage of color, including how tTemplateo use the Color Balance and Curves features to adjust color levels. This chapter is quite detailed and goes into depth on the subject of color and some of the techniques covered in Day 11 and Day 12. The author also discusses how to prepare a personalized image template to give you better control over your color output.

Day 17: Retouching and Repairing Images--Retouch the effects of poor lighting/flash, improve the brightness and contrast of old photos, and remove dust marks, scratches, and other blemishes. The author provides you with a black and white photo to experiment with for retouchiRetouchingng and repairing. With the image of the fishermen you use a mask so you can work on separate parts of the photo. If you try to fix the contrast and brightness so that you can see more detail in the person on the right, you'll wash out the guy on the left. Using the mask and the Magnetic Lasso tool you can adjust the brightness, shadows, gray levels, and highlights.

Day 18: Saving Time with Actions--Focus on saving time with actions: learn what an actionBalloon is and how to work with the Actions palette, and create and run your own and built-in actions. Actions can be really great as they automate a series of steps and processes that can be time consuming. The balloon photo, from the CD, shows the Photoshop Clear Emboss action applied to the text. The author also Actionsdemonstrates how to create your own actions. Following a tutorial from the book, I created an action for a text drop shadow effect, which can be seen on the image to the left. If you really like using actions, there are other third-party actions on the CD that comes with the book.

Day 19: Compositing Two or More Images into One--Find out how to effectively cCollagereate a collage of multiple photos and learn to create your own photo montage. Collages are a collection of items from different sources, and a montage is created in such a way as to fool the viewer into believing that the composite image was not manipulated in any way. The author provides demonstration of each. I created the collage on the right by following the tutorial in the book and using the images provided on the CD.

Day 20: Adding All Kinds of Special Effects--The special effects chapter: how to create wood and brushed metal textures, variations of drop shadows, and amazing glows. The image to the right demonstrates a wooden texture.

Day 21: Preparing Your Art for the Web--Move your GIFs and JPEGs out on the Web, and learn how to create easy, seamless tiles and visitor counters. This is an important chapter on creating GIFs for anyone planning to create a Web page.

Appendix A: Keyboard Shortcuts and Tool Documentation
Appendix B: Troubleshooting Guide
Appendix C: What's on the Companion CD?

T. Michael Clark is an excellent writer, as he knows how to simplify the material; and he doesn't assume anything on behalf of the readers. He believes in including step-by-step descriptions and as many illustrations as necessary to enable the reader to get a handle on the concept. This attitude makes the book very readable and clear. Since I am an avid reader of any kind of book, I have perused a variety of computer books, and I must say that T. Michael Clark's books are some of the best, as they are extremely well-organized; include a wealth of information and tips; have more than twice as many tutorials as other books; are fun; and really spur you on to creative endeavors. I have included many but not even close to all the tutorials included in the book. See our other review of his book, Sams Teach Yourself Paint Shop Pro 5 in 24 Hours. I really like having access to the same images used for the tutorials. Once you experience this, it is difficult to go back to just reading how to perform a procedure without the same sample image.

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