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Introduction

Introduction

The history of image-editing applications should be divided into two categories: BP and AP (Before Photoshop and After Photoshop). Before Photoshop, there were various bitmap applications available, some of which were very good. There was Pixel Paint Pro, Studio 8, Digital Darkroom, and, of course, MacPaint. Like dinosaurs facing extinction, all these applications faded away after the comet called Photoshop fell to earth in the late 1980s.

I am told that Photoshop got its start as a file-conversion program at Industrial Light and Magic, the special-effects studio started by George Lucas. This was the mid-1980s, when graphics file formats were all over the map and PostScript was nonexistent. Photoshop began as an application that converted one format to another. One look at the extensive list of Photoshop's Save As file options, and this begins to make some sense.

One could argue that Photoshop is the most influential facilitator for the growth of digital graphics since the Macintosh. And although the Mac got us started in the mid-80s, Adobe has kept things moving forward with interface standards and cross-platform compatibility that make graphics accessible to just about every computer in the world. This universality has made Photoshop the core application driving new advances in the computer graphics world. Photoshop combines with After Effects for professional video editing, with Quark and InDesign for industry-standard page layout, and with Illustrator and FreeHand for desktop illustration. In all these instances, Photoshop sits right in the middle. Photoshop also drives the advancement of digital photography and professional Web design.

It was the boom in Web design books in the early 1990s that prompted Adobe to launch a complementary application to Photoshop called ImageReady. Although Photoshop was the creative powerhouse, ImageReady excelled in prepping images for the Web; compressing file sizes; converting colors; and building clean, concise animations. ImageReady also featured a bare-bones set of image-editing tools for basic image editing.

Because this book covers Photoshop 7, it also addresses how ImageReady 7 supports graphic design workflow and integration with Photoshop, especially where Web design is concerned. Therefore, you will see ImageReady written into some of the task instructions—and even featured in a few standalone tasks. Because of the redundant feature set created when they were separate programs, many of the tasks described for Photoshop can be executed in virtually the same way in ImageReady.

And another thing…because Adobe does such an excellent job of building cross-platform applications, you should not be concerned that all the screen shots in the book are Mac-based. Everything works the same in Windows (except for the keystrokes, which I've identified for both systems).

Whether you're working with ImageReady or Photoshop, this book is designed to get you up and running quickly, with straightforward solutions to your questions. The challenge comes from the fact that Photoshop's complexity cannot always be clearly addressed in seven steps or less. I've tried to address the details as much as I can, expounding in the How-To Hints sections and task and part openers. Although the format of this book resists long narratives and detailed explanations, a ton of solid information is still packed into the tasks that follow. I was very pleased that we were able to drill a bit deeper into some of the advanced features in this book, and I hope it helps you push things further and get the most out of Photoshop.

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