Sams Teach Yourself Adobe Photoshop CS in 24 Hours, by Carla Rose, ISBN 0-672-32592-6

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, send e-mail
Published by: Sams Publishing, go to the web site
Requires: N/A
MSRP: $24.99 (US), $37.99 (CAN), UK £17.99

In this latest book in the series, author Carla Rose tackles the newest incarnation of the imaging standard from Adobe - Photoshop CS (Creative Suite). Photoshop CS is a tremendous upgrade from version 7 and is designed to integrate tightly with the other CS products. The book uses the same format as others in the "Sams Teach Yourself" series, with the lessons logically divided into one hour chapters covering the various feature and function sets found in the new program.

I was initially a little suspicious about this book when it first arrived in my mail as I was still a few days away from seeing the live product demonstration at the Creative Suite event here in London, England. I wondered just how effectively someone could put together a book based upon software that wasn't really on the market yet. I know that it's always a race to get these books to market and this book shows some of the signs of this kind of haste. Even so, I feel that the book has clearly hit some important parts of its intended target because Carla Rose definitely aims her book at the imaging neophyte and home user. One reason the book succeeds in properly addressing those sorts of users is that the language used throughout takes an almost conversational tone, making the basic lessons easier to follow and retain. Because of this approach, imaging neophyte and home users should have no problems tackling each technique and any of the technology discussed.

The book can be described as thorough because it deals with all of the main components in Photoshop CS. However, some of the key new features in CS are glossed over: shadow/highlight correction, match color, digital camera raw file support, and layer comps are all just mentioned in passing. Version Cue, which is another major part of Adobe Creative Suite is not even touched upon in this book. This is an oversight which may be forgiven however because this asset management system is part of the full Creative Suite and as such doesn't ship with the stand-alone Photoshop CS. But Version Cue should still receive some coverage because asset management (literally sorting, tracking and inventorying all of your creative work, image databases, etc.) is such an important part of any creative environment.

Sams Teach Yourself Adobe Photoshop CS in 24 Hours does not provide many new creative incentives in its 520+ pages. The book does not fully convey the real power of the new product. This book and others like it tend to take a lowest common denominator approach to their instruction, a methodology which doesn't always provide key knowledge about the most powerful parts of a complex product (key knowledge which invariably helps novices move to the next skill level). The hourly projects in this book do teach basic use of Photoshop CS. But let's be perfectly accurate - producing the majority of projects found in this book can be accomplished with any number of sub-$100 imaging applications (none of which have any of the remarkable tools found in Photoshop CS). I feel that even basic instruction in Photoshop should always touch on the specific features and functions which differentiate it from its competition, in addition to providing tutorial on the common functions in Photoshop which are identical in competing programs. Absent that approach, it may be more appropriate to title the book "Teach Yourself the Basics of Any Professional Graphic & Photo Editing Software".

Cons: Examples leave a little to be desired for what is, in essence, a professional product. Many of the images published in the book suffer due to the inappropriate quality of the paper stock and the fact that the images themselves are poorly tuned. Examples used in the tutorials are also lackluster, having a home user type of feel. Very poor Appendices.

Pros: Easy to follow. Comprehensive coverage of dialogs. Some good tips for the beginner. The "Sams Teach Yourself" approach will get you started with Photoshop CS.

Obviously I'm torn between praising the book and lamenting the absence of advanced instruction about the most powerful features in CS. If you are an imaging neophyte and you really want to learn basic Photoshop use, this book will be a good start, but it is a book you may quickly outgrow. For the imaging professional this book really has nothing to offer. On the other hand, author Carla Rose does a good job in all her Photoshop education books at introducing complex products to complete novices and home users. This one is no exception.

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