Photoshop 7 Learning Studio

Reviewed by: Thomas V. Kappel, send e-mail
Published by: Sybex Inc., go to the web site
Requires: Windows 95 and above and Mac OS 9 and above Pentium 200 with 64MB RAM and 4X CD-ROM, Power PC G3/233 MHZ and 4X CD-ROM
MSRP: $89.95

Some people learn best with classroom instruction and some by reading and following an instruction manual with examples. Photoshop 7 Learning Studio provides you with both for about $120 dollars. The Learning Studio package comes with a special training CD-ROM and a copy of Sybex's Photoshop 7 Savvy manual which also includes a CD containing chapter-by-chapter files of images to be used with this how-to reference manual. All in all quite an offering to those interested in learning and mastering Photoshop 7.

I need to point out right away that you do not need to own Photoshop 7 to use the Learning Studio as you are provided with a simulated interface that works like the actual program to step you through the lessons. On the other hand, in order to follow the Photoshop 7 Savvy manual and examples on its CD you do need the full program installed.

The Photoshop 7 Learning Studio CD

This CD-ROM is the heart of the learning system. I'll start right off by telling you that it works and I like it. It's like having an instructor sitting on your shelf ready to pull down when you're all set to dive in and learn how to use the basic, intermediate and advanced features of Photoshop 7 (a wonderful, complicated, feature-filled program that is also not so easy to learn).

The disk auto-loads and Steve Romaniello, author of the Learning Studio and the Savvy book, is poised to greet you with your first mouse click. It's a good test of your computer as the program uses QuickTime and Macromedia Flash and Shock enabled software. I had to load the latest free versions of these programs, which I usually like to do anyhow, and afterwards Steve popped up on the screen in a sharp crisp player image with full sound and color.

The opening screen also provides you with a graphic navigation image that includes dynamic menus to select the sections and lessons you're searching for. The navigation image includes five selections: Hands-on, Reference, Photoshop Savvy, Photoshop Color and Photoshop Core. The list is long on the training and information associated with each selection but here's a short outline:

Hands-On Projects: Making Selections, Layers and Type, Restoring a Color Photograph, and Web Design

Reference: What's New in Photoshop 7, Tool Descriptions, File Formats, Quick Keys, and Glossary

Photoshop Savvy: Photo Retouching, Using Filters, Advanced Layer Techniques, and Digital Video

Photoshop Color: Color Management and Printing, Modifying and Mapping Color, and Spot Color

Photoshop Core: Foundations of Photoshop, Setting Up Photoshop, Making Selections, Layering An Image, Working with Type, and Creating and Applying Color

This is not a complete list of the coverage on the CD-ROM, but it should give you a good idea of the content. In addition, not every feature or lesson has an instructor video attached, but there are a large number of instructional videos and hands-on lessons on the disk.

The Hands-On-Projects section is interactive with a unique training process. The interface and lessons utilize a unique Show Me, Try Me and Test Me interactive instruction process that actually takes you through the sequence of steps to learn the particular technique you're studying. The instructor shows you how to do the technique, the program steps you through trying the technique yourself, and finally you're tested and shown when you've made the right or wrong choices. It's a learning process with reinforcement to help you remember long after you've finished studying.

This training method is a good deal less expensive than classroom training, works in the comfort of your home or office, is there when you have the time to use it and is easy to use for beginners and intermediate users. Advanced users may find some tips and tricks in the training that they're not familiar with, but the Savvy book is a great quick-reference when you haven't used a feature in a while and need a reminder.

Photoshop 7 Savvy Book & CD

A main sales feature of the Learning Studio Package is that the book, "A $50.00 Value is Included Free!" The book does sell separately for that price, is a June 2002 1st edition, is 656 pages in softcover and includes a CD. The book also has a 32 page full-color section of examples.

Savvy is defined as a noun meaning practical know-how. That's a pretty decent description of this book and the layout of its material. It's not exactly a reference book - more like a how-to (follow these steps) type of training manual. It is, of course, a beautifully book with glossy pages and crisp printed images and text, something Sybex always does wonderfully with its graphic books.

There is, in my opinion, one nasty annoying little thing included on the CD. There is a demo of the Photoshop 6 Learning Studio. The instructional videos on this disk show the speaker, Steve Romaniello, reading his lines from a teleprompter over the top of the lens of the camera. You know, he's not looking right at you like he's speaking to you, but he's reading off the teleprompter which makes it seem like he's speaking to someone over your shoulder. I find that annoying even in a small video window. I'm happy this isn't a review of that product. Thankfully they did a much better, much more professional job of the videos on the Learning Studio 7 disk.

I have used a number of Photoshop 7 books to learn the program. I found the learning sessions on this CD both informative and fun. I took the lesson on retouching and restoring old photographs with the Clone Tool, the Healing Brush and the Patch Tool, all of which I've used, and I learned a few new ways of doing things. By the way, the lessons and images in the Savvy book are the same as the ones used in the Learning Studio. So if you own Photoshop 7 and want to try what you've learned in the program, you can do so.

This is a wholehearted buy recommendation of Photoshop 7 Learning Studio. I believe we will see more of this type of computer-based training (CBT) with manuals and lessons to reinforce the learning process in the future. So, if you have a need to learn this program for home photography use, web creation or business applications, this product is the best bet I've seen in quite a while.

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