Review: Photo Retouching with Photoshop: ...

Art book or tutorial? You decide. (March 23rd, 2005)

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Price: $24.95 US, $36.95 CA, 14.95 UK

The Good

  • An easy read, nicely designed, and entertaining.

The Bad

  • Not enough details as to how and why the authors chose their particular editing paths. The 96 page book was just too short.

The Designer's Notebook, a new series of books from O'Reilly Media, covers Photoshop editing techniques through the eyes of leading French digital artists and photographers. This review covers the retouching book, which was written by Gerard Niemetzky, Dominique Legrand, Antony Legrand, Eric Mahe, Vincent Risacher, Francois Quinio, Thibaut Granier, Poisson Rouge, and Cyril Bruneau. It was translated into English by Marie-Laure Clec'h.

After reading Photo Retouching with Photoshop: A Designer's Notebook, I was left unsatisfied. Each chapter presents one of eight French designer's preferred editing sequence to reach a particular artistic destination. Although the workflow is presented in stages, the actual steps aren't covered with enough detail. Sufficient information is given to understand most of editing work, especially if you are an imaging professional or an advanced Photoshop user, but why some of the choices were made is a mystery.

Generally, reading tutorials can be boring, but this book is interesting, because it is more like an art book than a manual. It was enjoyable to read, yet a bit frustrating because I actually wanted more information than was included, even though I did learn a trick or two.

The book is laid out well, and is easy to read. Author notes, displayed in a cursive font, add interest, a hint of a personal touch, increased readability, and of course fulfills the "notebook" requirement. Screen shots, illustrations, and progressed photographs break up what could be potentially long and boring explanations. The problem is that the sequences are terse, editing decisions are noted without enough explanation, and in fact, in places it is hard to see why a particular editing path was chosen over another.

Most of the finished products seem designed for commercial publication, which makes the book more appropriate for professional designers. It may be confusing for the novice Photoshop user. I recommend the series if you like art or small coffee table books, but look elsewhere if you want a detailed Photoshop tutorial to really learn how to use the editing tools.

The titles in the series published as of this date include, Illustrations with Photoshop: A Designer's Notebook, Photo Retouching with Photoshop: A Designer's Notebook and Creating Photomontages with Photoshop: A Designer's Notebook. Assembling Panoramic Photos: A Designer's Notebook, will be released in May, 2005.

by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor


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