PhotoShop 7 Savvy, written by Steve Romaniello, ISBN: 0-7821-4110-2

Reviewed by: Greg Carson, send e-mail
Published by: SYBEX Inc., go to the web site
Requires: Photoshop 7 demo version or full product
MSRP: US$50.00, Can$80.00, UK £37.99

The Adobe Photoshop saga continues through version 7, the latest in a long line of exemplary releases only slightly tarnished by version 5. The wealth of tools, features and functions in Photoshop 7 are exceeded only by the enormous volume of instructional and tutorial materials published digitally and in print to help users come to grips with the complexity and power inherent in the software. Some people say - experts and amateurs alike - that the only way to thoroughly understand Photoshop is by means of a carefully taught course. Others justifiably believe and prove all the time that the best way to learn Photoshop is by using it, experimenting with photos and graphics, trusting your instincts to guide you through the online help system, the product manual and so on.

Ahem . . . they're wrong. You need more guidance. Unless you're one of the rare talents who can fully translate photos and design concepts from your mind to the digital canvas, there are going to be lots of areas in Photoshop which just don't make sense without a comprehensive reference and guide. Where the online help system and the printed manual supplied by Adobe fall down has nothing to do with their level of detail. The failure has to do with the enormous variety of Photoshop users out there - the singularly direct approach in the online help system and manual simply can't suit all of the marvelously varied users of the software.

Enter Photoshop 7 Savvy, published by SYBEX, written by artist and teacher Steve Romaniello, the latest in a relatively new series of "savvy" books designed to teach and provide comprehensive references for complex software. It's a comfortable read which uses language appropriate for each topic (and there are a lot of topics). The overall impression the book leaves is one of usability and clarity. There may be 656 pages, but they're 656 well-organized pages and none of our guinea pigs found the book overwhelming.

The most clearly impressive thing about the book is the fact that it covers every single tool in Photoshop 7. As an adjunct to this deep coverage, and no less important, the book also provides endless amounts of techniques and tricks related to almost every tool and feature. The ubiquitous graphics CD-ROM supplied with the book has been carefully assembled, which makes it easy to perform the tutorials. On top of it all, owners and users of Photoshop 4, 5 and 6 should note that this book is extremely useful for their older versions too. Some of the commands and user interface may have changed over the years, but all the original tools, features and functions are still there.

Cons: There are none.

Pros: Contains a short section on Photoshop and digital video (DV) which includes topics such as the differences between square bitmap graphic pixels and rectangular video pixels, aspect ratios and preparing files in Photoshop for use in video. After three weeks of use by six different Photoshop users of varying skill levels, we were still trying to come up with a reference not covered by the book. Superb coverage of everything from dodging & burning to the vaunted Healing Brush and everything in between. Best coverage of Photoshop typography we've ever seen. Superb coverage of Web graphics. Very impressive. Author Steve Romaniello has managed to write something which fits beginners and experienced users alike - also very impressive. Excellent index. Excellent topic organization. Even the most seasoned professional Photoshop users will get something useful out of Photoshop 7 Savvy. Highly recommended.

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