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Title: Creating Paint Shop Pro Web Graphics, Second Edition
Author: Andy Shafran
Publisher: Muska & Lipman
Publication Date: 1998
Pages: 384
ISBN: 0-9662889-0-4
Price: $44.99
Creating Paint Shop Pro Web Graphics, Second Edition shows you how to create Web graphics using Paint Shop Pro 5, an image editor and paint program. The author has completely revised the book from cover to cover, to include the new features in the revised version of Paint Shop Pro 5. It covers how to build images from scratch, edit and scan photos, work with digital cameras, and build cohesive sets of graphics for an entire Web site. The author discusses file formats such as GIF and JPEG; using HTML tags to add images to your pages; GIF animations; image maps; and how to keep your images small.
I would recommend this book for intermediate or advanced PC users. The author assumes the reader is a Web user, can build simple Web pages, and is running Windows 95, 98, or NT 4. For Paint Shop Pro users, though, the book is geared for the beginner through advanced user. Paint Shop Pro 4 users will find it a comprehensive guide to all the new features of PSP 5, while new PSP users can use it as a guide to start learning simple techniques and then advanced image making.

The book is intended to be read from beginning to end, as the easiest subjects tend to be presented first, with the hardest last. The author starts with basic generalities that everyone should know when using graphics on the Web. He then focuses on specific advanced Paint Shop Pro subject areas. The book can also be used as a reference. Many of the subjects are self-contained and organized logically in the order that you're likely to need them. The book is colorful and organized. I think there is a color graphic example on almost every page. There are many addresses of sites on the Web that you can view to see examples. Charts and outlines of material are also included in many chapters. The book is organized into 4 parts and 16 chapters, with two appendixes. To give you a feel of the rich texture of the book, all of the graphics and charts in the review, except for the black and white image of the people and buildings are from Creating Paint Shop Pro Web Graphics.

Icons--The author uses several different icons through the book: Tip, Caution, and Note.

Tip Box
Text formatted in this manner offers extra information related to the issue being discussed. You'll find personal anecdotes and experiences, specific design tecniques, and general information extras in "Tip" boxes.
Actions and commands that could make irreversible changes to our files or potentially cause problems in the future are displayed in this manner, "Caution" material. Make sure you read this text carefully as it could contain important information that directly affects enhancing your Web page.
Notes present interesting or useful information that isn't necessarily essential to the discussion, but provides additional material that may help you avoid problems, or offers advice relating to the topic.

Part I: Web Graphics Basics--introduces several concepts that are important to understanding Web graphics.

Chapter 1, "A Web Crawler's Beginning," demonstrates how crucial graphics are to a Web page. The major graphical file types are described as well as the basic HTML tags used when adding graphics and images to Web pages. There is an excellent discussion of file types such as GIF and JPEG. The author presents the information in text and then in a comparison chart.

Chapter 2, "Using and Installing Paint Shop Pro 5," discusses Paint Shop Pro 5. How to download and install the software is covered. The author also gives you a quick tour of some basic Paint Shop Pro features.

Chapter 3, "Creating Simple Graphics," focuses on using the Paint Shop Pro drawing tools for graphics in color and black and white. There are 4 tables: (1) dimension guidelines for Web images; (2) brush shapes and options; (3) brush characteristics; (4) and paper textures. The author has a thorough discussion of saving a file in JPG or GIF format.

Chapter 4, "Editing Images & Photos," relates where you can find graphics that already exist and modify them to fit your needs. Also covers screen shots. The author gives you addresses of popular sites to get graphics and a table for resize options.

Part II: Making Great Images--introduces you to more advanced images.

Chapter 5, "Images & Special Effects," learn to use the interactive deformations, filters, and other built-in techniques of Paint Shop Pro. There is a chart of filter comparison and a deformation chart.

Chapter 6, "Picture Tubes and Web Graphics," learn to make buttons, icons, bars, and titles that jazz up any Web page. PSP Picture Tubes, a new feature of Paint Shop Pro 5, are covered here. The author provides excellent tips and a full page of picture tube graphics. They are great for Web pages. These are just some of the picture tubes that come with Paint Shop Pro. JASC constantly has updates on their Web site and there are also third-party sites that have examples that you can download. The JASC Web site is:

Chapter 7, "Using PSP Layers," teaches you to use layers. You learn how to add, delete, and restack layers; use several different tools to edit layers; and how to adjust a layer's opacity and blend mode. There is a quick reference chart for layer controls.

Chapter 8, "The Black and White Alternative," discusses in-depth advantages and disadvantages of using black and white instead of color images on Web pages. Learn how Paint Shop Pro facilitates the conversion of color graphics to black and white and vice versa. Also the author tells you how to use a HTML keyword so you can create both color and black and white images on a single page to improve effective download time. The image to the left was originally a color image of mine that I converted to black and white.

Part III: Advanced Image Techniques--explains how to incorporate several advanced image techniques into a Web page to enhance your site's appearance and performance.

Chapter 9, "Using Scanners and Digital Cameras," helps you keep up on the latest digital imaging technology; choose the most suitable photos; and correct and retouch images in Paint Shop Pro. Learn how new image editing features let you take images directly from your scanner and digital camera into PSP.

Chapter 10, "Creating Transparent GIFs," explains GIF feature that changes an image's appearance on a Web page. By making the background color of an image transparent, the image blends in when placed on a page that uses many colors and background graphics. Learn when to use GIFs and how to specify a color to be transparent. The white section headings in this review are transparent GIFs. The image to the right is from the book and shows you images saved as transparent GIFs and non-transparent GIFs with green squares around them.

Chapter 11, "Moving Graphics: Creating GIF Animation," learn how build a GIF animation; use layers to make a GIF animation; optimizing GIF animations; and decide when to use GIF animations.

Chapter 12, "Making Your Graphics Learn," describes ways to trim down your graphic's file size; how file size equates to performance; count the number of colors you use; understand JPEG compression; and what is the difference between interlaced and progressive images. Progressive JPEG graphics display themselves in several passes, with each pass becoming more detailed and clearer, thus you can get a general idea of what the image looks like as it is downloading. The feature is more noticeable if you click on the thumbnail and view the larger image as it is displayed. The auto photo is an example of an image saved in the progressive format.

Part IV: Practical Use of Images on Your Web Pages--emphasizes how to integrate all the concepts covered in the previous chapters.

Chapter 13, "Web Graphics as Image Maps," shows you how to define different areas of an image to link to different HTML pages on the WWW. You learn how image maps work and how to build a simple image map.

Chapter 14, "Background Graphics and Colors," discusses how to use graphics in the background of a Web page. Learn to create a background and customize more advanced backgrounds. The image to the right is an example of a page from the book that has a background made with the orange peel pattern from Paint Shop Pro.

Chapter 15, "HTML Tips for Web Images," a collection of the most important techniques that you can use when putting together your own Web site. Learn to define your image size; use tables and frames with graphics; successfully find your images; and get page layout tips.

Chapter 16, "Cool PSP Techniques," which ties the entire book together. Shows you many different step-by-step techniques for creating Web graphics. I used a step-by-step example from this chapter to create the textured headline of this review.

Appendix A, "Graphical Resources on the Web," lists dozens of important sites that you will find handy.

Appendix B, "Paint Shop Pro Tool Reference," provides an overview of all the major features found within PSP.

This book is informative, easy to read and filled with color images, outlines, charts, and step-by-step examples that make it a valuable book for anyone setting up their first Web page or someone who has a Web page and wants to learn more. I am always forgetting something and searching through paragraphs of text for information. Using Creating Paint Shop Pro Web Graphics as a reference guide could cut your search time. The charts and color examples alone are worth the price as they make finding information easier. For beginning Paint Shop Pro users, it is a very good companion book with Sams Teach Yourself Paint Shop Pro 5 in 24 Hours. (See our review, March 1999.) The Sams' book has many basic step-by-step tutorials for making images, while the Creating Paint Shop Pro Web Graphics puts it all together and tells you what to do with those images to get the most out of your Web site.

The author of Creating Paint Shop Pro Web Graphics has set up a companion Web site for readers of the book. It contains: up-to-date information on the world of graphics; special offers on software and products; corrections or clarifications to the book; new resources you can use to stay on the cutting edge; URLs of readers who submit their Web site; an interactive discussion to talk about Web graphics; and and extra chapters and techniques.

Scanner: Hewlett Packard ScanJet 6250C Professional Series
Graphics: DeMorgan WebSpice 1,000,000 Page Design Edition
Web Page Editor: Symantec Visual Page