Great Photoshop Books
June 30, 2011 12:07 AM   Subscribe

What's your favorite intermediate-to-advanced Photoshop book?

I've been using Photoshop for years and years now but I'm becoming acutely aware that I'm Doing It Wrong. There are tasks that I make far more complicated, awful workflows, and entire features I'm simply unaware of. It's bound to happen when you're lazily self-taught and with such a behemoth piece of software.

What's a great, no-nonsense reference book that discusses more intermediate things and gets me what I need?

Stuff I'm tangentially aware of but wish I knew more about:

Shapes/Smart Objects
The goddamn Pen Tool
Better Layer Management
Layer Comps

I track down things on tutorials, but I really want a physical book I can burn through that will feature plenty of "holy shit I can do THAT?" moments, since I think that's the best path at this point. (Also, is the preferred approach for "rasterizing/rendering" layer styles SERIOUSLY to merge with a blank layer? Because that seems absolutely idiotic...)

Since the market for Photoshop books is clearly saturated, (heh.) I'm looking for some great suggestions. CS5 is fine.
posted by disillusioned to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
gawd...there's so much turnover in the computer books...generally i find it necessary to trek to the physical bookstore and just wade through 'til i find the one that feels 'right' (srsly...bajillions of photoshop books out there...) however, def check out the magazine rack at barnes and noble...there's usually a couple of titles imported from england that are excellent (expensive(for a magazine), but excellent) and usually have the format of 'check out this cool magazine cover/cereal box/movie poster/'s how we did it!'...step by step with lots of 'here's this trick...and now, here's another!'...i find that these kind of tutorials, in that they follow an actual creative workflow, are usually more effective than 'here's a hundred page chapter all about the marquee tool and every single one of its functions' and are always full of cool new tips...
posted by sexyrobot at 1:57 AM on June 30, 2011

What sexyrobot said. I mean, there's CS5: The Missing Manual, but still and all that may not be what you want. (Or it may be - it's fairly well written, goes into things in reasonable if not exhaustive depth, and treats you like an adult.)

The magazines, as well, can be helpful for the reasons given - shows actual workflows and a lot of 'and this is WHY we did it this way', which gives a lot of insight. (the downside is, of course, the magazine can be $15 or $20 or I've seen one for $30.)

I'm in the same place you are right now, but also going back to deal with some issues and start to tr to figure out how to draw.
posted by mephron at 3:59 AM on June 30, 2011

It's been quite a few years since I've used one, but I found Martin Evening's Photoshop (insert version here) For Photographers to be an excellent resource. It's clear and well-designed, and definitely useful for non-photographers. Unfortunately, I can't quite remember how deep it goes into workflows etc. I'd certainly put it on a shortlist to check it out at a bookstore before pulling the trigger.
posted by Magnakai at 4:17 AM on June 30, 2011

disillusioned: "(Also, is the preferred approach for "rasterizing/rendering" layer styles SERIOUSLY to merge with a blank layer? Because that seems absolutely idiotic...)"

Yeah, I know. There should be a one-click Rasterize Layer option. I rarely need to do it, but still.

An alternative is to right-click on the layer styles in the Layer palette, and click Create Layers. This will make the layer styles their own layers. It says that there are aspects that can be lost this way, but I've never seen them. You can then merge together the various layers, etc. I often use this to manipulate a drop-shadow, or something similar.
posted by Magnakai at 4:22 AM on June 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Photoshop books by Katrin Eismann are brilliant. When I first picked them up I had been using Photoshop for 7 or 8 years and had been teaching it for 4. I still learned new techniques that I use all of the time today. The problem is the editions haven't been updated since CS2 which means the screenshots will be outdated if you're using CS4 or CS5. But the lessons are so good I would encourage you to pick up a cheap copy of Photoshop Restoration & Retouching (3rd edition) or
Photoshop Masking & Compositing. The fundamentals have not changed since they came out.

I tire of his persona and writing style a bit, but I have to admit that Deke McClelland knows Photoshop inside and out and his CS5 One-on-One series is the book I would recommend to anyone wanting to learn the latest features while getting good fundamentals.
posted by jeremias at 5:17 AM on June 30, 2011

Scott Kelby's Photoshop book is well known and has tons of step-by-step examples of some really good techniques. It really made my photos look much better.
Photoshop for Digital Photographers
posted by hylaride at 6:39 AM on June 30, 2011

The Photoshop Wow! Book
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:49 AM on June 30, 2011

It says that there are aspects that can be lost this way, but I've never seen them.

I think you'd only lose the ability to edit the effect with the layer effects dialog, and you might have to reset the blending mode to match the original effect. Not a huge deal.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 2:00 PM on June 30, 2011

oh! i actually CAN answer the question about the raserize layer or whatever...basically anything that seems weird or roundabout in PS, actually...and something that i've found that like 95-99% of people don't know. (i've been using PS since before it was in color(!), and i just discovered this a year or two ago). this: Photoshop is designed, from the ground up, to be used completely without menus, palettes, or toolbars of any kind. that is, using only keyboard shortcuts and a mouse (or tablet) with the image taking up the entire screen (accessable by one of the buttons at the bottom of the tool palette)...when the literature refers to a 'power user', that's what they're talking about. this can lead to some 'roundaboutness' of accessing features...adobe is merely trying to reduce the number of onscreen 'buttons'
posted by sexyrobot at 10:18 PM on July 1, 2011

Sexyrobot, does that mean there's a keyboard shortcut for it? If so, could you enlighten me, please?
posted by Magnakai at 3:06 AM on July 2, 2011

i dont work with layer styles so much, but...even though it's the roundabout way mentioned before: shift-command-n, return (new layer), command-e (merge down) tends towards simpler multi-step keystrokes these days than the finger-bending easily-forgettable multi-key combos they used to have...i remember some that involved holding down function-ctrl-option-command-shift and then some other i remember what that was for? of course not, but i use my command-t like a sleek jungle cat, and m is for marquee, bitches! ;) ...and g is for bucket because glug glug glug!
posted by sexyrobot at 6:56 PM on July 2, 2011

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