Classroom in a book: Adobe Photoshop CS

by Leigh Cockrell

The latest version of the Classroom in a Book series for Photoshop has been completely revised to cover all of the new features of the CS version including the much improved File Browser, Layer Comps, Match Color command, text on a path and, my personal favorite, the Shadows and Highlights correction.

It's structured step-by-step lessons format make it a good book for beginner to intermediate users because it allows the user to learn progressively more complex features by actually doing hands-on projects. The accompanying CD supplies all the fonts, images and flles needed to complete each project, as well as a final version of each lesson so you can see what yours should look like when you're flnished.

The flrst lesson does a good job of getting a new user up and running and oriented to the workspace. Following are the lessons which cover basics, like using the File Browser, simple photo correction, working with selections, layer fundamentals, introduction to masks and channels, retouching and image repair. Lessons eight through twelve delve into intermediate subjects such as painting and pen tool techniques, brush options and presets, vector masks, paths, shapes and creating special effects. The remaining seven lessons cover the Web tools of ImageReady, printing issues and color management.

Overall I think the text was easy to follow and did a good job of covering most of Photoshop's concepts, features and tools, including ImageReady's Web tools which come bundled with the application. If I had a wish list for the next update it would include more in-depth explanations on why certain fllters or options are used and many more color examples; especially in the sections that deal with color adjustments and fllter effects.

I must add that I was surprised to find so many errors in a book from Adobe Press. Spelling and grammatical errors were scattered throughout the book and in a couple of lessons it seemed like they left out simple but important steps that could confuse a new user. The most confusing error was in the chapter on creating links within an image where the flle names of the provided images on the CD didn't match the samples referenced in the book. Even though these errors didn't overshadow the valuable content of the book, Adobe certainly needs to address this issue because I've run across similar (but fewer) problems and omissions in other Adobe Press books.

As how-to books go, this is a good one, but it's only a flrst step if your goal is mastering this powerful program. The complexities and nuances of Photoshop can only be learned with hours of practice, experimentation and a thorough understanding of all its capabilities. To get the most out of Adobe Photoshop CS Classroom in a Book I'd recommend taking the Photoshop classes offered at Santa Rosa Junior College that use it as a textbook. The extensive class notes and guidance provided by the experienced instructors will signiflcantly reinforce what you learn from the book and help you utilize your new skills in real world projects.

List Price: $45.00 by Adobe Creative Team