If Photoshop 7 Savvy from Sybex is an example of the quality we can expect from the new Savvy series, then a new standard in hands-on tutorial publications in graphics and Web books has been set. This book raises the bar.
Author Steve Romaniello wrote Sybex’s interactive Photoshop 6 Learning Studio and is CEO of GlobalEye Systems, a software training company. He teaches at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona. Photoshop 7 Savvy is the second in the new Savvy series. The first was Flash MX Savvy.
The book includes everything we have come to expect from a hands-on tutorial book, but it goes beyond what other books provide. There is the requisite CD with project files and software samples for the hands-on exercises. The lessons are well thought out and step users through the exercises in a series of perfectly clear operations. The section of the book called “Photoshop Core” takes the student through the basics of working in Photoshop. There is an entire section on color. There are chapters on photo retouching, Image Ready, and digital video. There are four Appendices which describe the tools, file formats, blending modes and quick keys. And there is a plain English Glossary that explains terms such as “dot gain” and “one-quarter tone.” There is a 32 page color section with color-oriented material from each of the chapters so users can see the images in full color.
If you are an experienced Photoshop user, the book makes it easy to find features new to Photoshop 7 by placing an icon in the margin next to each new function. It is easy to flip through the pages and find new Photoshop features such as the wonderful File Browser.
In addition to the practical step by step exercises, there is also information about theory, history, and design that enhance the learning experience. The writer gives you more. In Hands On 3: Painting, Paths and History, I worked through step by step to give the tutorials a try. The exercise involved painting and highlighting a sea horse, adding some texture, using paths to add an eye and adding an ocean background with patterns and some shapes with Photoshop’s Patterns and Custom Shapes tool. I appreciated the ease with which I could follow the steps and the helpful diagrams and illustrations. I especially liked the occasional extra tidbit that added to my knowledge even though it wasn’t strictly necessary for me to follow the steps. For example, this step, “Choose a medium-sized soft brush. Set the mode to Overlay so that when the texture is applied with the brush, it will overlay the color of the sea horse, blending it rather than just painting in the grayscale texture.” Many books would have stopped with, “Set the mode to Overlay.” In addition to completing the step by step exercise, I also learned something about how Overlay mode works. This kind of bonus material is everywhere.
Photoshop 7 Savvy is part training manual, part reference and part inspiration. I absolutely recommend it.