Photoshop for Right-Brainers: The Art of Photo Manipulation, by Al Ward, ISBN: 0-7821-4313-X

Reviewed by: Thomas V. Kappel, September 2004, send e-mail
Published by: Sybex, Inc., go to the web site
Requires: N/A
MSRP: US $49.99, Can $69.95, UK £34.99

I don't believe it's possible or necessary to learn everything there is to know about Adobe Photoshop. As with most good software, you only need to study and learn how to do something specific in the program when you need to and are ready to do it. Consequently, I go for books that provide information in the areas of my needs and interests. Photoshop for Right-Brainers is such a book.

Today, with digital photography, home photo printers and the greater ease with which we take pictures, manipulation of the results, and printing of photos for sale and enjoyment, a book based solely on photo manipulation is timely. This book, as with most Sybex titles dealing with art and photography, is beautiful. Full color glossy pages, Windows XP Photoshop menu screen shots and a CD-ROM filled with the source files and software tools round out at least a physical description of the book itself. Inside is where we look for the gold in the instructions and information.

Inside this book there are ten chapters, an appendix of additional information, and a total page count of 332. The ten chapters are divided into two parts; Part 1 being Tools and Techniques of the Trade taking up chapters 1-4, and Part 2 being "Digital Intensive: Photography as Art" completing the book.

In part one you become the doctor for the extreme makeover of any photograph that happens to end up on the operating table under your mouse pointer. There are chapters on Digital Liposuction, Digital Face-Lift, Face-Swapping, Adding Hair, Tattoo Removal, Erasing Wrinkles, Removing Acne and Blemishes, Whitening Teeth, and Altering Eye Color. The medical community certainly lags behind Photoshop in the real world!

The artist side, or perhaps the sales and entrepreneurial side, will be excited and enchanted with chapters on Displaying Your Work, Landscapes and Nature, Animals, Objects, and People as Art. The Displaying Your Work chapter takes you through Saving Images for the Web, PDF Presentation, Creating a Contact Sheet, Photomerge, and Adding Metadata to an Image. As I said earlier, there is also included a CD-ROM with all the images and files utilized throughout the book. You are always able to compare what you've done in the lesson with the expert files on the disk. That's always nice.

I need to do a lot with the photos I've taken over the years so I was particularly interested in Part 1 of the book. It explained how to remove tattoos and other parts of a photograph using the clone tool. I was shown how to use the extract filter to remove hair from one photograph and place it on a man in another. Instant hair! I went off and messed with the clone tool and the extract filter for hours and came away learning a lot and with much better pictures in my collection.

I scanned in some old B&W photographs and am working now in the section of the book titled: “Adding Color to Black-and-White Images.” This looks so neat I've just got to try it on some pictures of my family from a time long before color was as readily available.

Photoshop for Right-Brainers is nott the be-all and end-all of instruction on enhancing photos, repairing them, correcting them, or making a truly bad photographer look good, but it does add to your knowledge, will help you improve your photo collection, and is one heck of a lot of fun. This book is also definitely not for beginner s.Youneed to have a solid grasp of concepts such as layers, some skill with all the basic tools, familiarity with the menus, and some experience with the program. If you fit this bill, are a photographer or photo artist, then I recommend Photoshop for Right Brainers as $50 dollars worth of knowledge, entertainment, and better photographs for your family, in your collection, and on the wall for sale in some gallery.

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