Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Book Review - Dynamic Learning: Photoshop CS3 By Jennifer Smith And The AGI Creative Team

Written by T. Michael Testi

Dynamic Learning: Photoshop CS3 is the first in a series of books from O'Reilly that is branded as Dynamic Learning. It is written by a group of product professionals and trainers from the Aquent Graphics Institute (AGI) and lead by Jennifer Smith. These are the people who have produced many of Adobe's own manuals.

Dynamic Learning: Photoshop CS3 is produced with Digital Classroom video tutorials that enhance the topics discussed in the book. Each lesson begins with a "Starting Up" section that makes sure that you are ready to roll. Then you are asked to view the video to get a better feel for what you are going to do. You then work through the lesson. This, tied with self study exercises and review questions, is meant to reinforce the content and skills learned.

Dynamic Learning: Photoshop CS3 is divided into 13 lessons covering 350 pages. The dynamic Learning DVD comes complete with all of the lesson files and video files needed to follow along with the book. The preface, "Starting Up," introduces you to dynamic learning, gets you set up and gives you other information needed to begin your lessons.

Lesson 1, "What's New in Adobe Photoshop CS3?" walks you through the features that are new to CS3. These include the new interface, Smart Filters, Camera Raw 4 and a comparison of Photoshop CS3 vs. Photoshop CS3 Extended. Lesson 2, "Exploring Adobe Photoshop CS3" gets you to work right away making a composition using selections, layer masks, placing artwork and adding text. All of these will be explained in more detail later, but this gets you into the thick of it.

Lesson 3, "Getting to Know the Workspace" shows you how to use the new Bridge, working with the tools and toolbar. You will also learn how to use the palette system to make your work easier in Photoshop. Lesson 4, "Using Adobe Bridge" gets you in to all the things that you can do with the new Bridge 2, including working with folders, metadata, keywords and automation tools.

Lesson 5, "The Basics of Photoshop CS3" will explain all of the basic functionality of Photoshop. You will learn to transform and edit combined images, remove a background, learn about stacking layers and how to understand the different file formats. Lesson 6, "Creating a Good Image" shows you why you should work in RGB, how to manage highlights and shadows, how to sharpen your images and how to save your file as a Digital Negative (DNG).

Lesson 7, "Making the Best Selections", will explain how to work with the Marquee and Lasso tools to make selections. It also covers the Quick Selection Tool and the Quick Mask as well. Lesson 8, "Painting and Retouching" covers the new painting and retouching tools that you can use modify your images. You will also get a quick lesson on color spaces and models. You will also learn to use Photoshop's painting tools.

Lesson 9, "Getting to Know Layers" covers that most important topic in Photoshop, the Layers palette. Here you will learn to select, move, mask, and clone Layers as well as working with filters, styles and how to create a clipping mask. Lesson 10, "Taking Layers to the Max" continues your study with Layers by working with Adjustment Layers, Layer Styles, as well as working with text Layers.

Chapter 11, "Using Smart Objects" introduces you to what Smart Objects are and how they can be used. You will learn how to create, edit and replace the contents of a Smart Object Layer. Chapter 12, "Using Adobe Photoshop Filters" will get you started on the large topic of the filters that come with Photoshop. This includes working with Smart Filters. Chapter 13, "Creating Images for Web and Video" introduces you to working with images that will find their way to both web; topics like banners, slices and buttons, and into videos; topics like animation and timelines.

Dynamic Learning: Photoshop CS3 is a very easy to read and understand book and when tied with the videos it becomes a very powerful learning experience. The book is well organized, the lessons include real world examples and the instruction provides a good working base from which one can really learn Photoshop CS3


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