Al Ward’s Photoshop Productivity Toolkit: Over 600 Time-Saving Actions (Sybex, 2004) is the second small book I’ve reviewed recently. By small, I mean it is just over 100 pages and very focused on a single idea: Photoshop actions. There are only four chapters. Ward explains what actions are, how to edit actions, how to create actions and then provides a boatload of actions you can use in myriad ways.
If you have never used actions in Photoshop, this book makes it easy to get started. Ward’s instructions are clear and easy to follow. He has you using the actions on the CD by Chapter 2 and by Chapter 3, you are in the actions business yourself.
Even if you already use your own Photoshop work flow and habits to create actions for yourself, you will probably find some interesting new actions on the CD, which includes actions for color correction, enhancement, production, typography and more.
I like this trend, if it is a trend, toward small, focused books that sell for under $25 and help readers master just one bit of information. They’re kind of like cable movies on demand–get the information you want when you want it without anything extraneous to clutter up the mental landscape. There is so much new information in web design–a constant pressure to learn more, more, more–that books helping you tame the one piece of knowledge that you need at the time seem like an excellent idea. In fact, I can think of a few topics I’d like to write about myself in one of these small tomes.