Author: Nick Vandome
Publisher: Easy Steps, 2011
Aimed at:Anyone keen to start with image editing
Pros: Well illustrated, comprehensive
Cons: Introduces some advanced ideas too soon
Reviewed by: David Conrad
Intended as an easy-to follow guide to the sometimes overwhelming capabilities of photoshop Elements 9. Does it pan out?
Photoshop Elements is the "lite" version of Photoshop the image editor favored by professionals and this book sets out to be an easy-to follow guide to its capabilities and features. Like companion volumes in the Easy Steps series it has full color illustrations and numbered instructions. While it doesn't sidebar entries on every page, most of them have a "Don't forget" or "Hot Tip" and just occasionally you will encounter a "Beware" icon.
Nick Vandome starts with a fairly logical approach. There are eleven sections in all and the first, explains the product, then goes through its Editor interface covering Editor Mode, Project Bin, then Quick Edit and Guided Edit Mode and the Organizer. It then briefly introduces the Create and Share modes before looking at the Menu bar, Toolbox and Options Bar. Next comes two pages on Panels which perhaps would be better postponed until a later “Getting Advanced” section together with Preferences which comes next.
Section 2 is on Organizing Images – from obtaining them to saving them. It covers version sets and tagging both of which are important in Photoshop Elements and are worth discovering early on. Tagging helps with Search which is also covered as is the creation of Albums.
The next section is First Digital Steps and given the title and all the complexity already introduced earlier I would have appreciated a recap of the preliminary step of getting an image to work on before launching in to color enhancements and cropping. It carries straight on to cloning and healing – again we are getting advanced pretty quickly.
Section 4 is called “Quick Wins” and covers red-eye removal, converting color images to black and white and adjusting skin tones before straightening an image which is perhaps the most used fix of all. The section also goes through the Quick Edit and Guided Edits options and Element’s Scene Cleaner function. The section concludes with some advanced tricks - merging exposures for better results and Photomerge for combining parts of different photos. As well as stitching images together for panoramic views Vandome also shows how to use Photomerge to get you the results you want by avoiding the embarrassment of having left someone out of the photo - but remember this technique runs the risk of changing history in a way that has been known to get politicians into trouble.
Next we come to Beyond the Basics which looks at using Element’s facilities for advanced image editing such as Hue and Saturation, the Histogram for exploring the tonal range of an image and Levels for altering the range, Filter Adjustment effects and the Unsharp Mask. Tools for Selecting Areas including Marquee, Lasso and the clever Magic Wand Tool are in Section 6 and Section 7 moves on to Layers – which is pretty advanced stuff but if you've made it so far you’ll now be able to cope with it. It also paves the way for the next section – Text and Drawing Tools. Elements can convert any image into an artwork and this is covered in Section 9, Artistic Effects.
The final two sections are on how to let others see your results. Section 10 Sharing and Creating looks at the two modes first introduced at the beginning and Section 11 Printing Images covers a variety of formats including online printing and PDFs.
On the whole this is a useful book to have if you are working with Photoshop Elements, especially if you are not a complete beginner when you might be as overwhelmed by the book as you are by the software.