I had the first edition of this book and learnt an incredible amount from it. This newer version (fourth edition) includes many more examples and is substantially more beefy, with almost twice the amount of pages, over 400! The other benefit of getting the new edition is the inclusion of two hours of video tutorials (it seems Steve has responded to feedback on his forums, as people mentioned how helpful the videos were in previous editions).
If you've ever studied illustration and photomontage you'll know that the Author is a pioneer in this field. You've probably been turning through the pages of The Guardian or The Times or any number of popular magazines and seen his work without even realising it. Anyway, my point is that the Author is busy working in the industry and if you want to learn from someone then he is the best man for the job! A particularly nice touch is the inclusion of various "interlude" sections of the book which divide up the tutorials. They give the reader an idea of what people in the industry might expect of you as a graphic artist, self-promotion, and tips on sourcing images etc.
I think it's important to say that this book does something that the other CS3 books don't - that is explain how you would use Photoshop quickly and painlessly everyday to complete the tasks a publishing company/magazine/newspaper would ask of you. The layout of the book is superb with everything is broken down into small chapters that explain each step to completing the dramatic transformations to images that you will undertake. He does say in the introduction its not the kind of book you'll be reading cover to cover (as you might know some of the techniques mentioned already) but it is the kind of book you'll be able to pick out tutorials you find interesting, or perhaps need to learn for a particular project or brief. This approach works very well and it feels a little less daunting when holding the weighty book in your hands! The fifteen chapters are broken down into several tutorials that explain pretty much everything you'll ever need to achieve in CS3 ranging from simple techniques to change the colour of a woman's jacket or a building, to time saving techniques and ways to save your files (very important if you're working to a short deadline) all the way through to subtle lighting/shading/shadow techniques and layer masks.
The other thing that I would say distinguishes this volume from others is the practical explanations for the tools, including the Pen tool which, to me made little sense prior to reading the tutorial! It also explains the new tools in CS3 which also made little sense before I got the latest edition!
This book however isn't just aimed at the professional illustrator/graphic artist or those studying to work in the industry, it is also aimed at people who like to have a bit of fun with Photoshop for personal pleasure. There's a weekly contest on the website forums where readers can come together to assess each others work, and Steve Caplin offers tips and advice on those images you're working on. Its a fantastic resource, and very interesting to see how other people have taken his techniques and adapted them for their own work.
It is well worth buying if you found the first or second editions useful as I did. Even if you have quite a bit of experience with Photoshop there will be many tutorials which will show you how to improve your skills.
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