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THIS IS NOT THE INTRODUCTION > How this book works

How this book works

I wrote this book so any user, at any level of Photoshop experience, can jump right in and create these effects. For most people this is a blessing, but if you've been using Photoshop for umpteen years, 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 New Layer icon at the bottom 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.” Don't let that throw you, because for the rest of that technique, I just say “Create a new layer.” I had to do it that way. Since this isn't a “Start at Chapter One and read it cover-to-cover” book (you can jump in anywhere), someone who's new to Photoshop (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 works” chapter at the beginning, like every other Photoshop book. Because of that, the first time a command appears, 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.

Q1:So is this book full of advanced techniques?
A1: 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 Photoshop designers, digital photographers, Web wizards, and video gurus. They use these effects every day, and you can be sure 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 is 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 the client like you worked on it for weeks, right?) but most of it requires you to just follow the simple steps. That's it.

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

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 muckity-muck designer to do their 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 Photoshop users? So basically, you're going to learn advanced techniques that are so easy to pull off, and 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 getting right in and getting your hands dirty. It's all how you look at it.

Next, I included a quick Q&A (Quebec & Albatross) session to answer some of the questions that are probably racing around in your mind:

Q2:Where should I start in the book?
A2: It doesn't matter. Jump in at the technique that interests you most. Wherever you start, because everything is spelled out, you'll be able to do the technique right on the spot.
Q3:Can I get the photos used in the book?
A3: You're kind of pushy. I like that. Actually, thanks to the wonderful people at Brand X Pictures (www.brandx.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.
Q4:Why Brand X?
A4: 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 (OK, 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 over 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.brandx.com to see for yourself. I know this sounds like a big plug for Brand X (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 one 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), and I wanted to let them (and you) know how much better this book is because of their generous contribution. OK, now I'm “un-plugging.”
Q5:Is the book for Mac or for PC?
A5: Both. Since Photoshop CS is identical on the Mac and PC platforms, this book is identical for both. However, because the Mac's keyboard is slightly different from the keyboard on a PC (three keys have different names) I give both the Mac and the PC keyboard shortcuts throughout the entire book.

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...

Q6:What's the volumetric conversion of 7 cubic yards to liters?
A6: Glad you asked. Seven cubic yards equals 5351.99 liters. Other Photoshop books just don't give you this kind of in-depth, seemingly useless information. See, I care.
Q7:I noticed you mentioned Felix several times throughout the book. Who's Felix?
A7: 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 7 Killer Tips book, and honestly, I learn more about Photoshop 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. In fact, during the past few months, Felix showed me two techniques that were so cool that I said, “You've gotta do those in my book.” So he wrote two amazing tutorials here in the book (the “finally real neon” and the “how to age a photo” tutorials) and 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.

Q8:What are those sidebars on every page?
A8: Those are tips. Cool tips. Tips to make you faster, better, more productive. Sometimes they relate to the effect shown in the main portion of the page, sometimes they're just cool tips that I had to stick somewhere, so they wound up there. Some of these tips haven't changed since back in Photoshop 7, and they work exactly the same in Photoshop CS, but I was able to add lots of cool new tips for the amazing new stuff in Photoshop CS too, so make sure you read them (or I did all that typing for nothing).
Q9:What's the capital of South Dakota?
A9: Pierre.
Q10:What if I'm still using Photoshop 7?
A10: Dude. That's just wrong. Photoshop CS is the best Photoshop 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. Remember that I mentioned how out-of-date the effects in the Photoshop 7 book are now? Well, that's how old Photoshop 7 is. Although most of the effects in this book will still work in Photoshop 7, you're missing out on much more than special effects if you don't upgrade to CS, so…get on it.
Q11:Where do I download the photos from the book?
A11: Go to the book's companion Web site at www.scottkelbybooks.com/csphotos.html
Q12:How many fingers am I holding up?
A12: Three. No, four!
Q13:Is the rest of the book as down-to-earth and straight-to-the-point as this non-introduction?
A13: 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.
Q14:Hey, I just realized something.
A14: What's that?
Q15:If this is the Preamble, the rest of the book must then be the “Amble,” right?
A15: That's right my friend. You are indeed worthy of this book. I mean, this “Amble.”
Q16:So, is it safe to continue on to the “Amble” now?
A16: Wow, you've really bought into that whole Amble thing—I'm proud of you. (Note: the interjection “Wow” is a registered trademark of the Jack Davis Corporation, and is used in the previous sentence with Jack's express written permission. All rights reserved. For details, see in-store display. Not valid where prohibited.)

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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