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Books Graphics Photography Software

LAYERS: The Complete Guide To Photoshop’s Most Powerful Feature

When I pick up a book to read it I have an almost overwhelming desire to know something about the person writing the book before I even flip the pages of that book.  I want a connection between that person and myself in order to justify committing myself to their momentary care. I look first at book forwards or introductions or at least the author’s brief inside the front cover.  This is true whether the book is a work of fiction or a technical manual.  Without this beginning I have a hard time relating myself to the author; I have this need to know something about them.

Some almost 50 years ago when I was a beginning college student I always avoided classes taught by "staff" or "to be announced" if there was an option, and when there was a name listed for a course I got out my college catalogue and looked up the faculty member teaching the course and tried to find out as much about them as possible before I committed myself and my hard-earned tuition money to their care.

Now it’s easy; just crank up your laptop and Google the author’s name, and since bookstores so often have a wireless connection, now you can do it right from the bookshelf while holding the book in your hands.  But to save your having to break off and Google Matt Kloskowski’s name right now, I’ll go ahead and fill you in on his background.  I’ll give you a brief quote off the middle of the page from the first Google entry:

"Matt Kloskowski is the Education and Curriculum Developer for the National Association of Photoshop Professionals. He has authored and co-authored 3 books on Photoshop or Illustrator and teaches an advanced Photoshop course for Sessions.edu. In addition to being an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop, Matt is a regular contributor to Photoshop User Magazine and writes weekly columns for several digital imaging websites".

He is one of the co-hosts for Photoshop User TV where with Scott Kelby and Dave Cross  he teaches Photoshop and Photoshop Lightroom.  Their easy-going, informative, and sometimes humorous teaching methods makes learning easy.

That ought to tell you enough to take him seriously, especially if you are a reader of PHOTOSHOP USER magazine because then you will already be familiar with his name and teaching methods, and you will be ready to commit yourself to his care for a couple of days while you do some serious learning.  While the book is written primarily for Photoshop CS3 a number of the techniques and steps work equally well in Photoshop CS2.

First of all, here’s where to locate the images to follow along with the lessons; I put them in just in case you’re the type not to read the introduction where Matt tells you about them, and without them you’re lost.

Now let’s look at the chapters and the material each contains.  This list will take you through a thorough understanding of layers from the beginning to the powerful professional image correcting steps of the Photoshop user professional.
 

Chapter 1.    Layer Basics; Using Multiple Layers; Everything Else About Layers; Summary.

Chapter 2.    Blending Layers; The Three Blend Modes You Need Most; (Multiply Blend Mode; Screen Blend Mode; Soft Light Blend Mode); A Closer Look At Blend Mode; Layer Blend Modes for Photographers; Advanced Layer Blending; Summary.

Chapter 3.    Adjustment Layers; Adjustment Layer Basics; Making Selective Adjustments; Super Flexible Adjustments; Some More Adjustment Layer Ideas; Fix One Photo-Fix ‘Em All; The Adjustment Layer Blend Mode Trick; Summary.

Chapter 4.    Layer Masks; (read this intro Matt says, even if you don’t read any other-  I’ve warned you); Layer Mask Basics; Automatically Creating Layer Masks; The Only Layer Mask "Gotcha"; Combining Multiple Images; A Deeper Look Into Layer Masks; Making One Layer Fit Into Another; Summary.

Chapter 5.    Type and Shape Layers; All About Shape Layers; Summary.

Chapter 6.    Enhancing Photos With Layers; Combining Multiple Exposures; Painting With Light; Selective Sharpening; Dodging and Burning Done Right; Boosting Specific Colors; Enhancing Depth of Field; Creating Soft Focus; Summary

Chapter 7.    Retouching With Layers; Removing Blemishes and Wrinkles; Smoothing and Enhancing Skin; Making Eyes and Teeth Whiter; Removing Distractions; How Do I…

Chapter 8.    Layer Styles; Designing With Layer Styles; Creating a Watermark; Creating Reusable Photo Effects; Some More Layer Style Ideas; How Do I…

Chapter 9.
    Smart Layers; Four Reasons Why Smart Objects Rock!; Designing Templates With Smart Objects; Layers and the Creative Suite; How Do I Learn More From Matt?; How Do I…

There you have nine chapters in 248 pages of well written and easy to follow tutorials.  Matt tells you in the beginning that you can open the book and start anywhere.  If you discover you are in over your head you can back up a chapter or two and start again and see if you are up to speed.

As a photographer, Chapters 6, 7, and 8 were of particular interest to me and either confirmed my own working procedures or suggested an alternate method that I’ll have to experiment with a bit to see if that method might replace what I have been doing.  I’m never too old to learn; that’s why I bought the book.

One of the things I particularly liked about the book was that each chapter ended with either a summary or a page answering specific questions related to the procedures that had been covered in that chapter.  I like this approach very much because it provides a review when I come back to the book after a period of time and need to review to get up to speed again.  Let’s face it, seldom does an individual sit down a go through a book from the front to the back in one sitting; dealing with chapters is more like it where in our busy lives we manage to fit in one or two chapters at a time.  We all need review and summary pages.

A couple of the chapters covered subjects that I have never previously had the need to work with, but were nonetheless interesting.  I tend to put small, colored, plastic tags on pages in any book I intend to keep so that I can return to the pertinent pages at a later time.  I’ve tagged up a number of pages in Matt Kloskowski’s book so that it will be easy to return to the specific tutorials if the need arises.  Knowing the state of the photography business and the part post-production plays in the field today, I suspect I will have to update my techniques and work-flow to later accommodate some subjects or techniques that I have previously not needed to know.

When that time comes, my well stocked, and well-marked bookshelf will be there to provide the refresher I need.

I recommend  Matt Kloskowski’s Layers: The Complete Guide to Photoshop’s Most Powerful Feature to the beginner and intermediate Photoshop user with a nod to a couple of chapters that might be useful to the very advanced Photoshop user.  It explains in plain and simple language and in specific step-by-step illustrations a thorough feeling for the use of layers as an extremely powerful tool in Photoshop CS3.

Categories
Graphics Panels & Gutters & Zip Ribbons Sequential Art Software Workflow

Creating a Web Comic with Comic Life

First, this article assumes you have content (even if it is only in your head) and ready to tackle the technical aspects of web comic creation.  In short, many artists still work traditionally by scanning their pencils and/or inked drawings and digitally coloring them in Photoshop.  However just as many create their work digitally either in Photoshop, Illustrator, or various 3D software programs.  The main rule for web comics is it needs to be developed quickly, in order to meet those daily, bi-weekly or weekly deadlines.  Which leads us to Comic Life Deluxe.

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Graphics Photography Software Tutorials

ImageWell

Free is good for about anything!  A well-made, extremely usable, and still free application is incredible!  Check out Xtralean’s website and navigate to IMAGEWELL.

First of all it’s available in fifteen different languages and…but what does it do, you ask? 

Categories
Graphics

Helvetica – What’s all that Hype about?

Can we say that typography, an art in the eyes of bibliophiles and graphic designers, can now be classified as art for the masses?  In addition to the release of Gary Hustwit’s documentary film Helvetica this past year, (which by the way my typography class rated really good, and no one was caught napping) the Museum of Modern Art launched 50 years of Helvetica back in April of 2007 and will close the exhibition on March 31, 2008.

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Graphics Photography Reviews Software

Rawker: Keeping It Simple.

A friend recently received his new Nikon D300 camera, and as soon as he had a battery charged he went out picture taking and shot his images in the RAW format as was his usual practice.  He stopped off in his travels at a another friend’s house to show off his new camera and to share some of the test pictures.  Not satisfied with the small view on the camera back he sought to transfer the images to his friend’s Mac computer.

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Graphics Photography Reviews Software Tutorials Workflow

Adobe Bridge

Wow, what a great title for my first article on Adobe CS3 Bridge. Really, I came up with it myself. Me, you ask? Well, I’m kind of a manual/mechanical guy. I’m a photographer, and somewhat of a computer geek. I have always preferred cameras that can work without batteries, and have all the shutter speeds and f/stops work. I capture images in digital format almost exclusively for both my commercial photography and my personal work. So far I haven’t found any of the new-fangled digital gear that is mechanical, but the manual settings are all available. Just keep lots of batteries handy to power the sensor.

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Graphics Photography Reviews Software Tutorials Workflow

Adobe Bridge Revisited

I’m a rambling man, but I generally ramble with a purpose. I love CS3 Bridge and Camera Raw, and can talk all day about how I use them. However, I understand that most folks kind of get catatonic when I ramble on too much… so here is the only somewhat rambling story of how I work with CS3 Bridge and Camera Raw to make my life easier, more enjoyable, more fulfilling, well… you get the picture.