Show Me! Adobe Photoshop CS, by Andy Anderson, Steve Johnson, Perspection Inc., ISBN 0-7897-3067-7

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, May 2004, send e-mail
Published by: QUE Publishing, go to the web site
Requires: N/A, although it makes sense to have a copy of Photoshop CS
MSRP: $19.99 USA, $30.99 CAN, £14.50 Net UK

For all those people using graphic design, drawing, photo editing, illustration and drafting software who are struggling with each new release of their favorite program, and for all those just getting into the software - as students, teachers, amateurs or budding professionals - a book which attempts to show you how to use the software as opposed to just telling you about it is probably a good thing. That's the premise behind all of the books in QUE Publishing's "Show Me!" series. This entry in the series is designed to provide readers with a quick, visual reference guide to Adobe Photoshop CS.

The book is divided into 19 chapters covering most aspects new and old in Photoshop CS. There are an additional five sections which provide overviews of the Adobe Certified Expert (ACE) program (which is reference widely throughout the book), the new features in Photoshop CS, a complete listing of all CS keyboard shortcuts, a troubleshooting guide and a reasonably robust index.

The 19 chapters covering 443 pages are dedicated to explaining, in step-by-step fashion, how each feature and function works. The format of all the 'how-to's are exactly the same: left page contains the title and feature being shown, the tutorial steps and any related tips & tricks; the right page contains additional steps or explanations and additional illustrations, screen shots and photos. The format works well and serves as a consistent and reliable method of providing tutorials. All tutorial steps are carefully numbered, with matching numbers and arrows pointing to the various controls, actions and features in the accompanying screen shots, illustrations and photos.

The authors have also included tips, tricks and sidebars ("Did You Know?" "For Your Information") with most of the tutorials. This sort of thing is common in most books of this type, but I think you'll find that these ones definitely serve to extend your depth of knowledge and understanding about each tutorial.

The one thing we did not find in the book was a CD containing the examples used in the tutorials. However, and as is more common practice these days, most of the examples are downloadable from the QUE web site here. Click the link then click Downloads on the book's web page.

One of the best parts of the book takes up pages 455-476 in which you'll find a comprehensive listing and descriptions of every keyboard shortcut in Photoshop CS for Windows and Mac. The first page of the listing also provides a kind of table of contents which makes it easier to find the main categories of shortcuts. I'd have paid ten bucks just for this list if someone had ever offered it to me.

Yugo Zastava: The book provides a good overview of Photoshop CS and a wealth of Show Me-style tutorials, but it shouldn't be mistaken for the only Photoshop CS book you'll ever need. So relative newcomers to CS would be wise to grab an additional offering from QUE/Sams Publishing such as Gary Bouton's Inside Photoshop CS.

Porsche Boxster: An excellent reference resource for anyone preparing for the Adobe Certified Expert exam. The keyboard shortcut reference section is worth its weight in gold. All the example files referenced in the book can be found online. I'm not a Photoshop CS maven and I've certainly never claimed to be an artist or even a decent photo editor, but after using this book to sharpen my skills I can assure you that the improvements are obvious. There's nothing quite like being walked step-by-step through a few difficult concepts to help you develop your skills with a piece of software. Most of the CS tutorials also work well for Photoshop 7. The language used in the book is both concise and friendly. If you're relatively new to Photoshop CS and you want to plunge in, this is a great way to start. Recommended.

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