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This is Not the Introduction

This is Not the Introduction

Every book has an introduction, and virtually nobody reads it. That's why, instead of including a boring introduction that nobody will read anyway, this is actually the “preamble” to the book. That's right, baby—a preamble. This is more important than it may sound at first, because as you're probably aware, not many printed documents these days have a preamble (though this could certainly start a trend). In fact, the only document I can think of that has a preamble is the U.S. Constitution (and it's done pretty well thus far). So I'm following in the footsteps of our forefathers by trying to create a piece that will endure for more than 200 years (or until the next version of Elements is released—whichever comes first).

When you break it down, the word “preamble” is really ideal because, as you know, the prefix “pre” means “before the fix” (which in layman's terms means “this all occurred before something was broken”), and the word “amble” is the root of the Latin word “ambulance,” which is what you'd need if you were to break your foot while reading this book. So, in short, this preamble is what to read before you break your foot. Ah, it all makes perfect sense now, doesn't it?

…you'll be able to re-create every single effect in this book, regardless of your previous PhotoshopElements experience.

So now that we've established that this is clearly NOT an introduction, what will reading this do for you (you being the wonderful, multifaceted, truly unique, genius-type person who bought this book)? Reading this will help you “get inside my head.” (Don't worry. I've got a huge bobble-head with more than 120,000 square feet of contiguous air-conditioned warehouse space, so climb right in.)

All kidding aside, taking a quick moment to read this preamble will make using this book much easier and much more enjoyable for you. Primarily because you'll then understand how and why it was written, why I did certain things the way I did, and then how to get the most from this book. Plus, it says something about you and the kind of person you are (the kind of person who will continue reading this preamble, knowing full well that it's really the introduction, simply because you don't want to hurt my feelings. I dig you, man). Now, on to how to use this book.

How to use this book

Think of this as a “Photoshop Elements special effects cookbook.” Need to apply a depth-of-field effect to a photo? No sweat. It's in here. Want to make it look like you took your shot in a studio with a full lighting setup? It's in here, too. Need to do cool stuff right now, for a project that's due tomorrow? Just turn to the page that has the effect you need, and follow the step-by-step instructions.

You'll be able to re-create every technique in this book, regardless of your level of Photoshop Elements experience, and you'll unlock the secrets for creating today's hottest photographic effects—the same ones used by the top pros—and the same ones you see every day in magazines, on TV, in Hollywood, and on the Web. Techniques that would otherwise have taken years to learn, but are easy—once you know the secrets. You'll be absolutely amazed at how simple these tricks really are, and they're all here, including those closely guarded, insider, “down-and-dirty” tricks of the trade. It doesn't require years of study—there are no complex mathematical concepts to master—in short, there's no baloney. It's (as we say) “just the funk and not the junk!”

Okay, so now you know what the book is all about—special photographic effects and cool tricks—but you probably have some other questions. Probing, lingering personal questions whose answers may be too uncomfortable for our studio audience, so instead I thought I'd do something safer—a simple Q&A (Quebec & Albatross) section where I make up the questions I'd like to have answered if I were the person buying this book, and then I answer them, as if I'd written this book (which coincidentally, I did). If this sounds at all confusing, it should. Here we go:

Q. Where should I start in the book?

A. Honestly, it doesn't matter. This book isn't designed to be read like a novel, starting with Chapter 1, then Chapter 2, etc. This is a “jump-in-anywhere” book, so jump in at the technique that interests you most. Wherever you start, you'll be able to do the technique right on the spot, because everything is spelled out.

Q. Do I have to be really good at Photoshop Elements?

A. When I wrote this book, I wrote it so any user, at any level of Photoshop Elements experience, could jump right in and create these effects. For most people this is a blessing, but if you've been using Photoshop Elements since version 1.0, there's something you should know: I spell everything out (at least the first time, in every tutorial). And just because I do that (making the book accessible to everyone), you shouldn't let it “get to you.” For example, in a tutorial, the first time I have you make a new blank layer, I write: “Create a new blank layer by clicking on the Create a New Layer icon at the top of the Layers palette.” If you've been creating layers since Roseanne was a top-rated TV show, you're going to be like, “Oh, this is for beginners.” I had to do it that way. Since this isn't a “Start at Chapter 1 and read it cover to cover” book (you can jump in anywhere), someone who's new to Photoshop Elements (like a professional photographer who's now shooting digital) might not know how to create a new layer. There is no “Here's how Photoshop Elements 3 works” chapter at the beginning, like you get in every other Photoshop Elements book. Because of that, the first time a command appears in a technique, I write the whole darn thing out. Again, it's just a few extra words, and you can bounce right by it if you already know how to do it, so don't let it slow you down.

…I wrote this book so any user, at any level of Photoshop Elements experience, could jump right in and create these same effects.

Q. So is this book full of advanced techniques?

A. Well, in a way, yes, in a way, no. Here's the thing: The techniques you're going to learn in this book are the very same techniques used by today's leading digital photographers, Web wizards, and designers. They use these effects on a daily basis, and you can be sure that if they're working for some major TV network, a Hollywood studio, or a worldwide ad agency, these people are definitely advanced. But although these techniques were created and are used daily by advanced users, that doesn't mean they're hard or overly complicated. In fact, my goal was to make these advanced techniques as easy as humanly possible. That's because I want every reader of this book to be able to easily pull off every single technique in the book. That's my goal. It's supposed to look like it was hard to create; it's not supposed to be hard to create. That's the beauty of it, and that's why I call the book Down & Dirty Tricks. There is nothing I love more than finding out that the effect that I thought would be so complex is actually a 60-second quick trick. I love that, and sharing those secrets is what I love even more, and that's exactly, precisely, what this book is all about.

Think of it this way: This book is packed cover to cover with stuff that makes it look like you really broke a sweat. Like you spent weeks crafting the effect (because after all, you're going to charge your client like you worked on it for weeks, right?), but most of it requires you to just follow the simple steps. That's it.

Here's an example: In this book, I'm going to show you what is probably the most popular technique used in Hollywood movie posters today. You know, and I know, that the Hollywood studio hired some big muckety-muck designer to do its posters, but absolutely, without a doubt, if you follow the instructions, you'll be able to create the exact same effect. Does that make it a beginner's book—because a beginner can “pull off” the same technique used by the top pros? Or does this make it an advanced book, because you're learning techniques used by some very advanced users? So basically, you're going to learn advanced techniques that are so easy to pull off, it's going to make you look advanced (even if you're not). If you're already an advanced user, the benefit to you is you'll be able to pull these mini-miracles off even faster, by skipping the extra descriptive copy and jumping right in and getting your hands dirty. It's all how you look at it.

Q. Can I get the photos used in the book?

A. You're kind of pushy. I like that. Actually, thanks to the wonderful people at Brand X Pictures (www.brandxpictures.com), you can download low-res versions of all the photos used in the book, so you can practice right along using the same photos.

Q. Okay, where do I download the photos from the book?

A. Go to the book's companion website at www.scottkelbybooks.com/ddelements3.

Q. So why Brand X?

A. Because, in my humble opinion, they've got the best, coolest, most relevant royalty-free stock images in the market today. I came across them when their catalog came in the mail. I looked at it for about 30 seconds and I knew right then: “These are the images I want in my next book.” We called them out of the blue, and convinced (okay, we begged) them to let us (and you) use their amazing stock imagery for the book, and I am absolutely thrilled that they did. They offer more than 20,000 images, and best of all, they're totally not the schlocky “two-men-shaking-hands” standard stock photos that permeate the stock agencies. Their stuff rocks because it's so usable, so “non-stock,” and I encourage you to visit their site at www.brandxpictures.com and see for yourself. I know this sounds like a big plug for Brand X (and it is, and they deserve it), but I can assure you that outside of their graciously letting me (and you) use their photos, it's not a paid plug. I don't get a kickback—not a nickel, whether you buy 1 or 1,000 of their images (and CDs, did I mention they sell collections?), but I am indebted to them, especially since they didn't know me from Adam (apparently, they know Adam). I just wanted to let them (and you) know how much better this book is because of their generous contribution. Okay, now I'm “un-plugging.”

There is nothing I love more than finding out that the effect that thought would be so complex is actually a 60-second trick.

Q. Is this book for Windows users or Macintosh users?

A. It's really just for Windows users. Here's why: When Adobe created Photoshop Elements 3, they left quite a few major (and minor) features out of the Mac version. In fact, the entire Organizer (which is one of the most compelling features of Photoshop Elements 3) isn't in the Mac version at all. When I looked at how much the two versions differed (feature-wise, interface-wise, etc.), I realized I had to make a decision. I could either make a really confusing, disjointed book that lamely attempted to cover both versions, or I could make a kick-ass version that only covered the PC side, and enabled me to add more pages and more content. The fact that the overwhelming majority of existing Photoshop Elements users are PC-based made the decision a bit easier, but I'm still disappointed that I couldn't do both. So, will the book work at all for Mac users? Yup. Every time you see the keyboard shortcut “Alt,” as a Mac user you press the Option key; when you see the shortcut “Control,” just press the Mac's Command key; and when you see me say “hit Backspace,” it's just the Mac's Delete key. Knowing that, you'll still run into a feature here and there that you just don't have, and sometimes an item is under a different menu, but much of it will be the same.

Q. What's the volumetric conversion of 7 cubic yards to liters?

A. Glad you asked. Seven cubic yards equals 5351.99 liters. Other Photoshop Elements books just don't give you this kind of in-depth, seemingly useless information. See, I care.

Q. I noticed you mentioned Felix in the book. Who's Felix?

A. Felix is Felix Nelson (yes, that Felix Nelson), and he's about the best, most creative, most talented Photoshop artist in the known universe, and I'm about the luckiest guy in the world to get to work with him every day. He's the Creative Director for Photoshop User magazine, he co-authored my Photoshop Killer Tips books, and honestly, I learn more from Felix than any other person on the planet. He's just brilliant at taking techniques to the next level, and coming up with inventive and creative new ideas.

For example, I'd ask him to look at a new technique I'd come up with for the book, and he'd look at it and say, “Hey, that looks slick. Ya know, if you added a...” and then he'd mention that one little thing that takes the tutorial from a pretty cool technique to a totally awesome technique. I can't thank him enough for his many tweaks, ideas, and insights that have made this book much better than it would have been.

Q. What's the capital of South Dakota?

A. Pierre.

Q. What if I'm still using Photoshop Elements 2?

A. Dude. That's just wrong. Photoshop Elements 3 is far and away the best version of Photoshop Elements there's ever been. You'll work faster, have more fun, and you'll be able to do more cool things with it than ever before, so in short—it's upgrade time. Although most of the effects in this book will still work in Photoshop Elements 2, you're missing out on much more than special effects if you don't upgrade to Photoshop Elements 3, so…get on it.

This book is packed cover-to-cover with stuff that makes it look like you really broke a sweat. Like you spent weeks crafting the effect...

Q. How many fingers am I holding up?

A. Three. No, four!

Q. Is the rest of the book as down-to-earth and straight-to-the-point as this introduction (I mean, preamble)?

A. Sadly, no. The rest of the book is pretty much written like this: Step One: Go under the Filter menu, under Blur, and choose Gaussian Blur. It's all step-by-step from here, giving the exact steps necessary to complete the effect, so there's not much interference, uh, I mean, ancillary instruction, from me. Well, except I am able to share some carefully crafted insights during the intro of each chapter, so please take a moment to read them if you want the full Zen-like experience that comes from reading chapter intros that are as meaningful and thought-provoking as those found in the opening paragraphs of this preamble.

Q. Hey, I just realized something.

A. What's that?

Q. If this is the preamble, the rest of the book must then be the “Amble,” right?

A. That's right, my friend. You are indeed worthy of this book. I mean, this “Amble.”

Q. So, is it safe to continue on to the “Amble” now?

A. Wow, you've really bought into that whole Amble thing—I'm proud of you. Well, you've done your duty. You've read the preamble, you know what the book's about, how it was written, what to look for (what you're in for), and how to make the most of it. Armed with that knowledge, go forth and follow in the footsteps of our forefathers, who once wrote, “We, the Village People…”—no, that's not it. Anyway....

Turn the page, my young apprentice. It's time for you to “effect” the world.

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