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Introduction: Not New, and Not Wonderful!

Introduction: Not New, and Not Wonderful!

How's that for a provocative, controversial lead-in? :) What I mean by this headline is that I've been writing Photoshop books for more than 10 years now, and in the first book I was fairly gushing over what a marvelously new, useful, almost mystical tool Photoshop was. Well, it's still magical, but I now hesitate to call it “new.” My dentist, my astrologer, and the three guys who work on my car will all attest, “Oh, yeah, Photoshop. You retouch pictures with it. My brother-in-law uses it.” So although Photoshop CS introduces new features that we'll thoroughly document in this book, em, calling Photoshop “new” is sort of like calling something a secret that everyone on the earth knows about.

Similarly, I'm not going to write about how “wonderful” Photoshop CS is. That, too, would be gushing, and besides, you're going to find out firsthand exactly how wonderful Photoshop is on your own, or gather a profound, in-depth appreciation for its wonder if you play with Photoshop in combination with the exercises we've provided in this book.

Okay, so what's this book going to mean to you, the phrases “new” and “wonderful” mercifully reserved? Well, to the beginner, this book is going to turn you into a bona fide journeyman with Photoshop skills that you will find deeply rewarding, regardless of the type of assignment before you. You're going to understand why a pixel acts as it does, what resolution you need for outputting to the Web and to an inkjet printer, and how to accomplish that special visual trick you saw in a magazine. A snowball effect will take place: Photoshop the Pastime will become Photoshop the Hobby; you'll start thinking of ways you can spruce up Christmas cards, calendars, and correspondence; you'll start strolling down the paper aisles at Staples looking for the right card stock—your life as an imagist will take root and blossom.

If you're already a journeyman, this is the right book for professional advancement as well. How many newspaper ads have you seen for “average knowledge of Photoshop a must”? Never, right? As Photoshop has grown into the de facto image editing program, the market for skilled Photoshoppists has become crowded. You cannot afford to maintain a “passing knowledge” of this killer application. Imagine walking into an interview, sitting down at the company's graphics workstation, calibrating the monitor in 3 minutes, setting up preferences in another 2 minutes, and then casually editing wings onto a horse to create a Pegasus in less time than it takes to go to the canteen for coffee? Quit imagining now! Inside Photoshop CS is your one-stop resource for both the technical information and the low-down on how to accomplish mind-blowing and salary-garnering effects. Do what nobody else out there is doing. Use Photoshop as naturally as you would hold a pencil in your hand.

Okay, I'm Hooked. What's Behind the Content of the Book?

Inside Photoshop CS is a fully guided tour of the behind-the-scenes magic this program can produce. My coauthors and I take you through comprehensive steps in each chapter to show you how to produce award-winning work, photo-realistic or otherwise. Our approach is a straightforward and simple one: It is our belief that every attention-getting image has to begin with a concept. The user then chooses the tools to complete the goal and, through a set of procedures, finishes the work. It is our intention to show you a task, to examine what needs to be done, and then to provide the steps needed to bring the piece to completion. By structuring the book in this way, we make it possible for you to be able to apply the “methodology” shown in this book to a multitude of personal and professional assignments.

An Omnibus Approach Provides Help for All Classes of Designers

As the theme of the book goes, everyone is new to Photoshop CS; it's an adventure for the pro and the beginner alike, and we didn't want to leave out anything in the steps, the notes, the text, or the discovery process. Do not take the attitude “Yeah, yeah, I know about the Lasso tool, so I'll skip this section.” There are new features on the Lasso tool flyout on the toolbox, and you'll be missing out on valuable information if you “gloss” a chapter. We didn't presume anything, so as a reader, you shouldn't either!

Taking the Road to Adventure

Let us make learning Photoshop CS an excursion, an adventure. As most adventures go, you must pack a few things first, such intangible things as a positive attitude, a concept, a proficiency with your computer, and an eagerness to learn. And last but not least, you should have a map, so you can instantly find your way from Point X to Point Y, while ignoring entirely Point A. We have provided the map (it's called “this book”!), and the following sections describe this map, by way of explaining some of the conventions of Inside Photoshop CS.

Push Down and Twist: The Directions for Accessing This Book

Most of the examples described in the book are documented in a step-by-step format. If you follow along, your screen should look exactly like this book's figures, except that your screen will be in color. Each chapter leads you through at least one set of numbered steps, with frequent asides explaining why we asked you to do something. The figures show the results of an action, and we explain what the effect should look like.

Most of Photoshop CS's tools have different, enhanced functions when you hold down the Shift, Alt, or Ctrl keys (Shift, Opt, Command keys, for Macintosh users) while you click with the mouse or press other keyboard keys. These modifier keys are shown in the steps as Ctrl()+click, Alt(Opt)+click, Ctrl()+D, and so on. Inside Photoshop CS is a multiplatform documentation of the application; Windows key commands are shown first in the steps, followed by the Macintosh key equivalent (enclosed in parentheses). The primary difference in Photoshop CS across platforms is the “look” each operating system lends to interface elements.


What's the difference? Okay, here's a list of the real differences in features between the Windows and the Macintosh versions of Photoshop CS:

  • When you are in full-screen mode without the menu or title bar on an image, in Windows, you can still access the menu because a flyout button appears on the top of the toolbox.

  • The Document Sizes field and the Zoom Percentage field on the Macintosh version of Photoshop are located on the bottom of the current image window. In Windows, the Document Sizes and Zoom Percentage fields are on the status bar at the bottom of the screen, where you can also see options displayed for the currently selected tool.

  • As of this writing, the Adobe Gamma control panel automatically loads upon installing Photoshop CS on the Macintosh. You can find this utility under the Apple menu, Control Panels. As of this writing, the Adobe Gamma control panel might or might not automatically load during installation while running Windows Me, NT, 2000, or Windows XP. Be sure to check out the (Photoshop5), Goodies, Calibration folder if Adobe Gamma didn't load into the system control panel. You will find instructions in the Calibration folder on how to manually install Adobe Gamma. (Hint: Do it; it's the best global gamma adjustment utility you can find for your computer, and it's free.)

To show you how easy it is to follow along in this book, we tell you how to access the Feather command like this:

Press Ctrl()+Alt(Opt)+D (Select, Feather), and then type 5 in the Pixels field. Click on OK to apply the feathering.

The translation? You hold down the first key while you press the second and third keys (then release all three keys to produce the intended result), or you can access the command the “hard way” through the menu commands enclosed in parentheses. We are trying to get you comfortable with modifier keys rather than menu commands because this constant reinforcement, highlighted throughout the book, will eventually make you work more efficiently in Photoshop CS. Function keys appear in this book as F1, F2, F3, and so on.

If the steps in an application that's available in both Windows and Macintosh formats are significantly different, we fully explain the steps used in this book.

The figures in this book were taken in Windows XP; there simply isn't room in this book to show all the versions of Windows, Unix, and Macintosh interfaces! Again, where there is a significant difference in the way something is accomplished on a specific platform, this book details specific steps to be used.

Terms Used in This Book

The term drag in this book means to hold down the primary mouse button and move the onscreen cursor. This action is used in Photoshop to create a marquee selection and to access tools on the toolbox flyout. On the Macintosh, dragging is also used to access pull-down menus; Windows users do not need to hold the primary mouse button to access flyout menus and main menu commands.

Hover means to move your cursor onscreen without holding a mouse button. Hovering is most commonly used in Photoshop with the Magnetic Pen and Magnetic Lasso tools, and also with the Eyedropper tool when seeking a relative position in an image and the color value beneath the tool (the Info palette, F8, must be displayed to determine the values the Eyedropper reads).

Click means to press and release the primary mouse button once.

Double-click means to press quickly the primary mouse button twice. Usually, you double-click to perform a function without the need to click an OK button in a directory window. Additionally, when you double-click on a tool in Photoshop's toolbox, the Options palette appears.

Shift+Click means that you should hold down the Shift key while you click with the primary mouse button.

Special (Not Ordinary) Things We Used in This Book

Throughout this book, we used several conventions to clarify certain keyboard techniques and to help you distinguish certain types of text (new terms and text that you type, for example). These conventions include the following:

Special Text

Information you type is in boldface. This rule applies to individual letters, numbers, and text strings, but not to special keys, such as Enter (Return), Tab, Esc, or Ctrl().

New terms appear in italic. Italic text is used also for emphasis, as in “Don't unplug your computer at this point.”

We Use Nicknames for Well-Known Products

Inside Photoshop CS would be an even larger book than it already is if every reference to a specific graphics product or manufacturer included the full brand manufacturer, product name, and version number. For this reason, you'll occasionally see Adobe Photoshop CS referred to as simply “Photoshop” in the text of this book. Similarly, Adobe Illustrator is referred to as “Illustrator,” and other products are mentioned by their “street names.”

Sams Publishing and the authors acknowledge that the names mentioned in this book are trademarked or copyrighted by their respective manufacturers; our use of nicknames for various products is in no way meant to infringe on the trademark names for these products. When we refer to an application, it is usually the most current version of the application, unless otherwise noted.

Some Special Information in Special Features

Throughout Inside Photoshop CS, you'll find special pieces of information added to help you understand how to use both Adobe Photoshop CS and this book. Those features include:


Notes supply extra information. When we want to tell you about something useful but not necessarily essential to the current “conversation,” we'll add it in a note.


Tips offer helpful hints. Shortcuts, workarounds, productivity boosters, and other forms of expert advice are collected in the tips you'll find scattered throughout this book.


Look out when you see a Caution! When we want to point out a potential pitfall or pothole in your path to Photoshop mastery, we'll shout out the warning in a Caution.

Sidebars Offer Interesting Diversions

When we have a relevant story to tell about some Photoshop CS success, an interesting use of a Photoshop technique, an alternative approach, a little-known Photoshop fact, or other alarms and diversions, we'll lay it all out for you in a sidebar. These items make for good reading and (sometimes) a well-earned break in the action.


When you're working through any of the stepped procedures in this book, you're likely to run across one or more of these helpful features we call Insiders. When you read these bits, imagine you're hearing the voice of the authors whispering in your ear, helping you over potentially tricky steps in learning and using the techniques we teach you in the book. Insiders also give you important advice and guidance about alternative approaches, and they explain why we're telling you to do the things we're telling you to do. It's the next best thing to having all of us crowded behind you while you work—without all the noise and shoving!

Inside Photoshop CS User's Guide

We recommend that you use Inside Photoshop CS as a reference guide, but it was also written as a string of hands-on tutorials. And this means that you might benefit most from the information in the book by reading a little at a time. We are aware, however, that this is not the way everyone finds information—particularly in an integrating graphics environment such as Photoshop's, where one piece of information often leads to a seemingly unconnected slice of wisdom. For this reason, most chapters offer complete, self-contained steps for a specific topic or technique, with frequent cross-references to related material in other chapters. If you begin reading Chapter 4, for example, you will learn a complete area of image editing, but you can build on what you've learned if you thoroughly investigate Chapter 16, as well.

Part I: The Basics So You Don't Get Headaches Later: Pixels, Color Spaces, and the Universe

We believe that the best way to get off on the right foot with Photoshop is to understand the basics first. First you walk, and then you fly, in a manner of speaking. Part I is a necessary part of your education, and if you read it first, you'll work more quickly through the rest of the book. Here's what's in this part of the book:

  • Chapter 0: Answers to the Most Important Imaging Questions— This chapter was designed to get you up and running on imaging terminology and to dispel a myth or two about resolution and pixels. Check into this chapter, and you'll check out with a fistful of terms and notions that'll come in handy as you peruse the remainder of the book.

  • Chapter 1: Producing Awesome Images from the Start— This is the “fun” chapter; you'll get your feet wet using many of Photoshop's tools without ever having used them before. Under expert tutelage, you'll retouch an image—admittedly a silly image—gain confidence in your image editing prowess, and hey, who doesn't like getting results right away from a book? :)

  • Chapter 2: The Critically Important Color and Gamma Calibration Chapter— If you are after color-critical work, this chapter is a MUST, and you should probably read it before any of the other chapters. Why? Because your system's calibration will affect every other example and tutorial in this book.

  • Chapter 3: Setting Preferences, Customizing, and Optimizing Photoshop CS— Photoshop works for you, and not the other way around. Chapter 3 shows you all the little neat things spinning around the interface—and beneath and behind it—and we offer suggestions on the smartest, most time-efficient, and friendly way to “mold” your own interface. Photoshop will work faster and you'll be happier with the results after reading this chapter.

Part II: A Hands-On Reference for Creating and Editing Photoshop Images

This part of the book focuses on the most important features in Photoshop. Hands-on tutorials guide you through working with paths, selections, layers, channels, and more. Part II includes:

  • Chapter 4: Layers and Channels— What is a layer? What is an alpha channel? All questions are answered in this comprehensive and fun chapter. Don't miss out on some of the core features of Photoshop. Mark this chapter as one to dive into post haste!

  • Chapter 5: Harnessing the Power of Selections— We'll take you around the virtual block with a potpourri of selection techniques because one selection method does not fit all. Find out what to use on what type of image or painting to accurately and invisibly separate areas upon which you want to work.

  • Chapter 6: Using the Pen Tools— Paths are non-printing vector shapes that can assist you in making precise selections. The only problem? You need to learn how to use the Pen tools! This chapter is a wall-to-wall treatise on how to get the most out of Photoshop's vector tools.

  • Chapter 7: Filters— Filters are a good thing, but what are they good for? This chapter covers some of the more popular filters in Photoshop and shows you unique uses for them. Additionally, we'll take a survey of the third-party filters out there that'll knock your virtual socks off.

Part III: Image Acquisition Basics

Naturally, before you can retouch a picture, you have to get it into your computer! The chapters in this part cover the basic strategies for digitizing real-world images so you can work with them in Photoshop.

  • Chapter 8: Loading Digital Images into Photoshop CS from Digital Cameras, Photo CDs, Scanning, and More This chapter covers the means by which an image can be made digital. Scanning, Picture CDs, digital photography, and other methods are discussed.

  • Chapter 9: Digital Photography and Photoshop: A Checklist for Better Imaging— How does a traditional camera differ from a digital one? What are the things you need to watch out for with a digital camera? What are the advantages of a digital camera? We answer these questions and more in this indispensable chapter.

Part IV: Correcting, Restoring, and Retouching Images

This part of the book concentrates on the essence of Photoshop's power—the capability to mold and shape digital images to express anything you have in mind. Here's what you get in this part:

  • Chapter 10: Color Correction and Selections: Creating Beautiful Hands— Hands can be as beautiful and as expressive as the human body or the human face. Come take a look at how the pros optimize a photo of a pair of hands to make them look positively magical.

  • Chapter 11: Working with Picture CD Pictures— Picture CD pictures are more popular than ever. However, how do they stack up against a digital camera photo? What do you need to watch out for in terms of image resolution? And how do you retouch a Picture CD photo? The answers lie at your fingertips in this chapter.

  • Chapter 12: Curves and Adjustment Layers— Curves and Adjustment Layers go hand in hand. If you haven't tried out these Photoshop features, you owe it to yourself to check out this chapter and then start retouching like the pros.

  • Chapter 13: Keeping Up Appearances: Techniques for Retouching Images— A house is as likely a candidate for a makeover as a person. What if you need to portray a cozy summer cottage, but it's the middle of the winter when you need to take the picture? This chapter takes you through the improvements you can add to the image we provide you, or to pictures of your own.

Part V: Ambitious Image Editing

As the book progresses, so does the intricacy of the tutorials. This part of the book deals with more sophisticated, involved image editing. Part V includes:

  • Chapter 14: Retouching a Group Scene by Creating a Composite Image— Take a dozen unruly kids at a birthday party, take a bunch of photos, and then check out this chapter, as you learn how to seamlessly stitch together the best of each photo to arrive at a picture-perfect celebration.

  • Chapter 15: Creating a Dream Image from a Hopeless Snapshot— Sometimes great images are not “born.” Sometimes your subject needs a lot of help from Photoshop. Learn how to use Photoshop CS to rescue a really bad image.

  • Chapter 16: Color Balancing and Adjustment Layers: Creating a Cover Girl Image from an Average Picture— There's nothing wrong with the photo in this chapter's assignment. It just needs a little help to evolve from an average picture to an outstanding one. Learn all kinds of secrets in this chapter.

  • Chapter 17: Surrealistic Photoshop— There's perhaps nothing more fun than creating a scene that's photographically accurate but at the same time totally impossible. Come learn the secrets to creating surrealistic images in this chapter.

  • Chapter 18: Replacing the Main Elements in an Image— Taking something as prominent in an image as a guitar and gifting the guitarist with a different one sounds impossible, right? Wrong! See how to replace the main element in a photo in this chapter.

Part VI: Illustration, Page Layout, and Photoshop

Photoshop isn't only all about photographic retouching. This part of the book shows you some fancy typography tricks, how to restore a 60-year-old poster, and more! Here's what you'll learn in this part of the book:

  • Chapter 19: Restoring a Historic Poster— Learn how to sample colors; use paths to re-create shapes; and use a new font to replace crooked, inexpert typography in a historic WPA poster. It's all right here in this chapter.

  • Chapter 20: Typography and Page Layout in Photoshop— Learn how to choose fonts based on their characteristics, and get a grasp on how to create a stunning page layout. Heck, we'll even show you how to create a garage sale sign in this chapter!

  • Chapter 21: Output— We discuss, in human terms, the best way to acquire an image, your alternatives, the number of samples you need to take of an image or physical art to make it print correctly, and a formula or two that you should tuck in your back pocket before you go off photographing or scanning things.

Part VII: Working for the Web with ImageReady

ImageReady picks up where Photoshop leaves off with respect to Web-sized images and animation. The two programs complement each other, and this part of our book shows you the ins and outs of creating Web media in these two chapters:

  • Chapter 22: Animations and Rollovers— This chapter leads you through—with great results—the adage “make every pixel count on the Web.” We've whipped up a healthy serving of tips, innovative approaches, and just plain good advice from a voice of authority about these sorts of things. Your Web buttons will animate, your images will be small but beautiful, and you'll have learned yet another aspect of successful electronic communications.

  • Chapter 23: Optimizing Your Images for the Web and Email— You want that snapshot of your new kid to look as good as possible when you email it to your folks, right? Well, dive right into Chapter 23, and learn how to decide on file formats, optimization techniques, and more.

Part VIII: Working Smarter and Quicker in Photoshop

Photoshop is not an island. Noop, plenty of programs work well with it, and this part of the book offers a glimpse or two at the possibilities of working cross-application. The chapters in this part include:

  • Chapter 24: Ten Photoshop Tricks— This chapter is a potpourri of useful, inventive tricks and techniques that, quite frankly, didn't merit an entire chapter on their own! :) Learn how to create some amazing effects using Photoshop alone or in combination with a filter or an additional program or two.

  • Chapter 25: Using Photoshop with Quark, Illustrator, XARA, and Other Programs— Working between applications doesn't have to be hard. This chapter gets right down to the nitty-gritty and shows you the options for moving copies of Photoshop work into Illustrator and other programs…and back again.

  • Chapter 26: Where Do We Go from Here?— It's not about Photoshop. It's about you. How do you feel about a career in graphics once your head has stopped spinning from this book? How do people get into the business? Can you make a good living? What should you expect, and what's the most important thing to hold in your mind as you walk out into the sunshine and start looking at the real world and all the commercial trappings that go with it?

    Amazingly, we provide all that info and advice in about five pages. It's the least we could do for our readers.

Part IX: The Back O' the Book

Don't you hate reaching the end of a good book, only to find that the authors skimped on the research they put into it?! Everyone who works with a computer has a natural curiosity about where to learn more, where to find the best sources for more tools, and what stuff means when they read it out of context.

This is precisely what the Inside Photoshop CS Companion CD is all about. On the CD, you will find a number of important resources for your continuing adventures in Photoshop, long after you've poured through the pages in this book:

  • Resource files for the chapter examples. We recommend that you work through the steps shown in this book, using files (carefully prepared by the authors) that demonstrate specific procedures and effects. The files, located in the Examples folder on the companion CD, are platform-independent and can be used on any Macintosh or Windows system with Photoshop CS installed. Sorry, Photoshop CS itself is not included on the companion CD! You need to bring some ingredients for imaging fame and fortune to the party yourself!

  • The Inside Photoshop CS eGlossary. This Acrobat PDF file contains color examples, shortcuts, definitions, and other material pertaining to this book, to Photoshop, and to computer graphics in general. We recommend that you install the OnLine Glossary on your system and then launch Adobe Acrobat Reader when you need a quick explanation of something. Acrobat Reader comes on the Adobe Photoshop CD.

  • Fonts, textures, and scenes in Windows and Macintosh formats. We have produced a fairly extensive collection (in our opinions) of frequently needed items for Web pages, traditional publication, and other types of media construction. Check out the Boutons folder on the companion CD; these are completely unique Photoshop-oriented files and programs.

  • Shareware, demo versions of working programs, and utilities provided on the companion CD are hand-picked items we have used and that we recommend. Certain restrictions are placed on some of the shareware, so please don't confuse “shareware” with “freeware.” If you find something on the companion CD that is useful in your professional work, please read the Read Me file in the folder where you found the utility or file, and register (pay a small fee) to the creator of the program.

  • The mark of a well-written book is only as good as its index. Sams Publishing has the best indexers in town, and if you can't wait to thumb through the pages for something, check the Back O' the Book.

  • Last, but certainly not least, don't overlook the special discount offers you'll find at the back of the book. These offers can save you hundreds of dollars!

Hey. It's So Complex, It's Simple.

Electronic imaging is such a magical thing that it's impossible to keep the child in us quiet. For that reason, many of the examples in this book are a little whimsical—they stretch reality a tad, in the same way you'll learn to stretch a pixel or two, using Photoshop. We want to show you some of the fun we've had with a very serious product and hope that perhaps we will kindle or fan the flame of the creative spark in you as well.

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