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How to Cheat in Photoshop Elements 7: Creating stunning photomontages on a budget Paperback – 8 Dec 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 1 edition (8 Dec. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240521544
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240521541
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 18.8 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 784,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"During your school days, did you ever sneak a peak at the teacher's edition of your textbook? It was just like yours, only it had all the answers filled in! Imagine if you took your teacher's book and took out all the boring background stuff, leaving just the questions and answers. That's exactly what How to Cheat in Elements is like: no boring background, just all the answers!" -- Retouchpro.com

About the Author

David Asch is a beta tester for Photoshop Elements. He contributes to Mac Format magazine, and is co-author of Digital Photo Doctor and contributing author to Drop Dead Photography Techniques.
Steve Caplin is a freelance artist and author working in London, England. His satirical photomontage work is commissioned by newspapers and magazines around the world, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times Magazine, Radio Times, Readers Digest and L'Internazionale. Steve has worked for advertising agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Lowe Howard Spink, and his work has won two Campaign Poster Awards and a D&AD Pencil award. He has lectured widely in England, Norway, France and Holland, and has taught digital design at the University of Westminster and the University of the Arts London. Steve is the author of ten books: How to Cheat in Photoshop (five editions), How to Cheat in Photoshop Elements (co-authored, three editions), Icon Design, Max Pixel's Adventures in Adobe Photoshop Elements, The Complete Guide to Digital Illustration (co-authored) and Art & Design in Photoshop. He has also co-authored three mainstream books: Dad Stuff, More Dad Stuff, Stuff the Turkey and Complete and Utter Zebu. When he's not at his computer Steve plays the piano well, the accordion moderately and the guitar badly. He spends his spare time making improbable constructions out of wood and other materials. His first commissioned sculpture was for the Bethlem hospital - the original 'bedlam' - in 2010.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By W. J. Murphy on 6 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
So what do David Asch and Steve Caplin mean by cheating? Before I read the book I thought they meant that using Elements rather than Photoshop for post processing was cheating, but in their introduction they say that what's on offer is shortcuts to creating photomontages. The cheat is in the shortcut and in the notion that a montage is a photo of something that does not really exist.
That admission made my heart sink a little, because it's very easy to make a bad photomontage, even without taking shortcuts. By that I mean that when you a "photo" of a giant kitten wandering down Times' Square, you never quite feel convinced about it. Beyond the obvious, there is something wrong that is usually hard to spell out, and at its worst it can just look like what it is, two photos on top of each other.
To be worth reading, this book would have to get past that somehow. Did it? For the most part, yes.
In broad terms, the structure of the book is:
Explain how to make complex selections in Elements 7
Explain how to use layers
Explain to how hide bits of layers non-destructively
Given the previous techniques, show how to make the resultant montages look convincing
Making selections in any package (Elements/Photoshop/GIMP etc) is one of those things where you can pick up the basic techniques in a few hours, but spend years trying to practically master how to do it. This book helps with the former, but only experience enables the latter. That said, the main techniques are brought together in one place, and there are some nice examples. These do look a little artificial, but that's because they need the techniques described later in the book to appear more realistic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. Clark on 14 May 2009
Format: Paperback
This is just the sort of book you need to stimulate your imagination. The large range of ideas and techniques on offer can't help to excite anyone who enjoys a creative challenge. The style of writing is very accessible and supportive with a clear and logical step-by-step approach. It is not meant to cover all the ins and outs of Elements, others do this already, but is an important supplement to such basic instruction manuals. This is for those who want to go beyond the obvious.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jack the Lad on 27 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very useful book showing many tricks that fall outside of normal Elements instruction and tuition. Great for creating special effects and those one-off dramatic images. Many of the methods shown here can also be used in the full versions of Photoshop and are not confined to Elements.
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Its a really easy to use book, very hands on and well planned for the type of information required...very happy with it, just need the time to actually try some of them out.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 27 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Useful reference book: basic to intermediate. 13 July 2009
By C - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
While a very basic (very basic: upload pics, open pics, save new version of pics) knowledge of computer use is required, there isn't anything to prevent a Photoshop-newbie from making the most out of this book. This is not an "Intro to Photoshop" book that is quickly outgrown in the first fifteen-minutes, but a task-specific how-to book that will grow with your skills from basic to intermediate.

The book is divided into 12 chapters:
1) Selection Techniques
2) Montage Essentials: Layers
3) Hiding and Showing
4) Image Adjustments
5) Light and Shade
6) Transformation and distortion
7) Materials and Textures
8) Working with text
9) People and Animals
10) Shiny Surfaces
11) The Third Dimension
12) Print and the Internet

Each chapter is also subdivided into specific tasks, for example, heads on bodies (i.e. making bobble heads), photomerge faces (what would your kids look like?), reflections, etc., Each photo-illustrated task is usually not more than 1-spread (2-pages long). Just enough detail but not overwhelming to newbies. How much you achieve depends on how much time and effort is put into each project.

Also included with the book is a CD with the same cheesy stock photos used in the book so you can practice recreating the images in the book with specific skills until you are ready to doctor your brother's bachelor party photos.

Conclusion: a great reference book from basic to intermediate. Advanced users may not find anything new here nor gorgeous pictures. Not for computer never-ever newbies either.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Graphic designers - take notice! 21 May 2009
By Wayne Palmer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I would have to agree with the other reviewers that this is not book for beginners, nor is it a book encompassing all the various aspects of Elements. But I certainly disagree that book is worthy of only 1-2 stars. This book has page after page of examples showing different techniques that you would think you could only do in Photoshop. There are so many examples, the authors could have easily spread out the information into more than one book, but instead packed this book with ideas.

If you are a graphic designer or photographer who does not have the budget for Photoshop, and need to know how to come up with creative techniques using Elements, this is the book for you.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Not a starter book for PE 7 - more like advanced specialty usage 9 July 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First and foremost, this is NOT an "intro to photoshop elements 7" book. Don't buy it if you want to learn the fundamentals of PE 7, rather get this book when you want to take your manipulation of digital images past fixing red eyes and brightening up dark shots. This book tells you how to have some real fun and engage in creative applications with your photos by constructing photomontages.

The lay-out and organization of the book is logical and improves usage. For instance, the first four chapters lay the foundation. They cover how to select portions of an image, how to work with layers and keys to adjusting images. The authors note: "...many Elements users ...have never learnt how to make layer masks, or picked up the essential keyboard shortcuts...we need to bring everyone up to speed..." That's exactly what those chapters do - they enable the user to become comfortable doing these kinds of digital manipulations. If you do nothing more than work through these four chapters and learn these techniques, the book will have been worth it.

Another helpful facet of the organization is that each "topic" is arranged on two facing pages, so the user is able to set the book open in front of the computer monitor and look between that topic and the screen, no flipping of pages necessary. It may seem a small point, but it really works when one is attempting the 'assignment'.

On the margin of each right-hand page is further organizational help - small icons that indicate, at a glance, whether this particular topic also is covered in a QuickTime movie on the accompanying CD, whether there is an additional source file for the tutorial on the CD and whether this particular technique is only available with PE 7. Many of these tutorials can be done with earlier editions of PE (so the book is not just for PE 7 users), but when PE 7 is essential, you can tell at a glance without wasting time trying to find features that aren't available in your version.

Finally, there is a supplemental web site prominently mentioned on page one of the book. If you get stuck, you can go to the website and submit a query. In the book, they mention a forum, but at the present time, the forum link isn't working. Nevertheless, despite the web site currently being little more than an advertisement for the book itself, the author, David Asch, does have an e-mail listed and you can contact him directly with questions. The book states the following: "...visit the Reader Forum...this is where you can post queries and suggestions...expect other forum members to weigh in..." This is either a classic "which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" problem or a case of high expectations that may or may not be realized. To get the idea out there, it has to be written in the book before this forum actually exists, but then you have to sell enough of the book and get enough of a reader base willing to contribute to a forum...anyway, it hasn't happened yet - time will tell if it does.

One last organizational aspect of the book that works is the list of Keyboard Shortcuts printed on the back flyleaf - it's a summary that will keep you from having to hunt through the book for those shortcut keys you learned in...now, which tutorial was that? No need for the hunt, just flip to the back and there it is. Also attached to the back cover is the CD and plastic sleeve; handy.

So who's this book for? As mentioned before, not someone just starting with PE 7 who wants to know how to organize their photos and do rudimentary corrections. I can see this book being useful for crafters who want to go beyond the basics in digital scrapbooking, artists who want to manipulate digital images to make their own greeting cards and the like. Also, small business owners who want to try to do brochures or other marketing media that may need manipulated images.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
photo-finishing Confidence Builder :) 18 Aug. 2009
By Katharena M. Eiermann - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"How to Cheat in Photoshop Elements 7: Creating Stunning Photomontages on a Budget" is my new Best Friend and desktop companion! :) An amazingly easy to follow "cheat" and walk-thru of Adobe Photoshop Elements 7.

Large color photos, clear and detailed instructions, extremely interesting tips and tricks to some pretty amazing photo finishing techniques. "How to Cheat in Photoshop Elements 7: Creating Stunning Photomontages on a Budget" is a lot about learning keyboard shortcut keys (mac or pc) and comes with a handy tear off shortcut key card found on the book cover. :)

A real photo-finishing confidence builder, imo. also, see my review of Adobe Photoshop Elements 7. Highly recommended! --Katharena Eiermann, 2009
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great Format --Lots of Processes -- Good for Me & I'm a Beginner 15 Sept. 2009
By ChristineMM - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I own Photoshop Elements 7 and am disappointed at the fact that barely any directions or information is provided in writing to help me learn the program. I find it very hard and frustrating to learn from their help section. I used to own Elements 3 and for six years barely used it as I didn't understand the program or even what was possible to do with the program. After purchasing Elements 7 I vowed to teach myself to make better use of the program and to use it to do what I wanted that I was sure it was capable of doing. I realized to achieve that I'd need a book from a third party to learn from. Before I purchased any book I had the chance to accept a review copy of this book. I consider myself a beginner user of Photoshop Elements 7 and this is the first book I've used to teach myself with.

This book works with PS Elements versions 3 through 7.

The first thing I was happy to learn in the preface is how Photoshop Elements 7 compares to Photoshop. Full retail price of the Photoshop is ten times the cost of Photoshop Elements. I keep hearing that Photoshop is what everyone should own if only they can afford it. However in the preface it says this "As the `baby brother' to the full Photoshop CS4, Photoshop Elements has long suffered the stigma of being a cheap, unprofessional product. Cheap it may be: but it contains 90% of the features found in the full Photoshop and, as we've seen from user-created artwork, it's anything but unprofessional. It's true that Elements is rarely used in a graphics studio or publishing company. But this is mainly because it doesn't include the high-end prepress features found in Photoshop; using Elements doesn't mean that you're working with a substandard application." Okay, fantastic, I now knew that PSE7 is not junk!

In order to do some techniques that apparently Photoshop does, one has to "cheat" in PSE7. This book teaches those cheats as well as other steps to photomontage processes. A person may say "PSE7 can't do that, you need Photoshop" but according to the authors of this book, that is not true, you can often get the same exact effect and end result by doing processes they teach in the book even if you use different buttons or actions in the process itself.

The best thing is that the book is laid out with two page spreads on one topic. All you need to know to do a task is on those two pages. The book is heavy on illustration with stepped out images for each step as well as text to explain it. Introductory paragraphs tell background info before you get started. A `hot tip' is present for every process as well. I feel the stepped out illustrations combined with text and the way the authors get to the point, don't fill the book with extra words is just fine for a beginner to learn from.

I had two main questions. First, is this the book that could help me learn to use the program in ways I wanted to use it and second, is this a book for beginners?

I do believe that a curious beginner can learn just fine from this book. Knowledge and skill builds up so if you want to do an advanced technique from the middle of the book you may first need to spend time learning the foundation steps taught earlier in the book. This seems perfectly reasonable to me. So to thoroughly learn the program, the terms and processes it would be best to start at the beginning and go through a good number (if not all) of the exercises, even if you think you don't need to know that process. Spending time learning the program before the exact moment that you desire to do something seems to be the best thing to do. I know that will take some time but I can envision less frustration on the day that you decide you want to do a certain process right then and there. The issue is in order to do something more complex like put open eyes on a person who closed their eyes in one shot, the beginner may not realize they first need to know processes A and B to try process C.

The book is meant to be used as tool, to go through it and learn as you go along. This makes it perfect for those who learn best "by doing". If you are looking for a text heavy book that is very watered down then maybe a more basic introductory book to the program would be best for you, I'm not sure, because this is a preference thing that is unique to each person. If you are a beginner who feels confident that if they do what the book says, that you'll learn, then this is the book for you. Beginners who know they know little but who feel capable to "learn by doing" will be just fine and can learn a LOT from this book.

As the subtitle states this book is heavy on artistic techniques for creating photomontages. This is useful for the family photographer for things like putting open eyes on a person whose eyes were closed or swapping heads or cleaning up backgrounds or changing backgrounds, how about putting a blue sky behind that famous building you visited on a cloudy day? Fun techniques like changing a parked car to look like it's moving with a blurred background are also taught. If you want to play with your photos and do cool things with them, or even add text to an image, this book provides all you need to know.

If you still wonder if this book is good for a beginner I'll share that I put it in the hands of my nine year old on his first time using PSE7 and he was able to follow the directions and do what the book taught him to do! He also had much less fear about learning the program and a lot of laughs while doing funny things to photos he had taken.

I'm rating this book 5 stars = I love it. The price is reasonable. I feel a beginner can learn from it. It teaches a ton of information in one volume (more than I will ever want or need to do with the program). I love the clear directions and the stepped out visual instructions.

The things I don't like about the book which are not enough to downgrade the star rating or my love of the book are: some of the images they created look fake. Some examples are the pumpkin carved page 185, bad skin tones on page 201 and 203 of famous people's heads put into a family photo, and shadowing or light not quite looking right on page 211. Also not counted in my rating is that the book contains directions to do things I'd never want to do as I realize we all have our own preferences for how we may want to use the program plus I'd rather have more processes in the book than less. Lastly, I would have liked (even a small) gallery of just photos that showed stunning photomontages to inspire me or show the range of possibilities and that showed superior examples, rather than just seeing them as the `end' shot on the process pages.

Note to Mac Users: The book is set up to teach to Mac and Windows users which I thought was great. At the time that I'm writing this review, I read that after the book was published the program had not been released to Mac yet. This is something that Mac users will have to research yourself to check the status of. I didn't feel that the book's authors should be criticized or the book downgraded due to a decision made on behalf of another company.
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