Review: Photoshop Secrets of the Pros

Photoshop Secrets of the ProsPhotoshop Secrets of the Pros: 20 Top Artists and Designers Face Off by Mark Clarkson is inspirational material for those already familiar with Photoshop. It reads like a novel and is as much about people who use Photoshop as it is about Photoshop.

The book is an outgrowth of the sport of Photoshop Tennis. What is Photoshop tennis, you say? Well, it seems a couple of folks started sending each other their Photoshop files to be worked with and then returned. After a few rounds of this, the image was very different, the back and forth emailing of the document was dubbed tennis and a sport was born for graphic designers. Clarkson got 20 graphic design pros to face off for 10 sets of Photoshop tennis and this book is a record of what happened.

In addition to showing how each image changed throughout the 10 lobs of each tennis match, we are also given insights into how each designer did a particular blend or mask or stroke to achieve the effects we see illustrated in the images. The designers explained where images used in the art works were obtained. Often the source was rather surprising: a shape drawn on a frosty window pane, the battery panel of a child’s toy, runny ink on a wet sheet of paper, even stock photos.

I can imagine this book being very popular with students in Digital Imaging II classes or at the end of the semester of Digital Imaging I, when most of the Photoshop techniques used in the book have been explored to some degree. If you are looking for inspiring examples of digital art this is a good resource.

After thoughts:
The day after I finished reading this book I went to a traveling art exhibit from the Museum of Modern Art showing in Houston, Texas now. It consists of 200 pieces of painting and sculpture in an exhibit called “Heroic Century.” The display included works by Dali, Van Gogh, Picasso, Miro, Pollock, Mondrian, Leger, Chagall, Boccioni and others. Not being a graphic artist myself, I had never before pondered the connection between what modern graphic artists create with Photoshop and the ground-breaking work artists like Picasso, Miro and Pollock did with color, texture and shape early in the 20th Century. The connection really hit me standing in front of those canvases with the images from the Photoshop tennis matches in the book still fresh in my mind. And I couldn’t help but wonder what someone like Jackson Pollock or Joan Miro would have done with Photoshop!

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