Jim Harvey reviews Photoshop 7 WOW! Book
Jim Harvey reviews Photoshop 7 WOW! Book
A Creative COW "Real World" Book Review

Jim Harvey reviews Photoshop 7 WOW! Book by Jack Davis

Jim Harvey Jim Harvey
JHV Digital
New York, USA

© 2002 Jim Harvey and CreativeCOW.net. All rights are reserved.

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Jim Harvey takes a look at Photoshop 7 WOW! Book by Jack Davis. ~ This book is published by Peachpit Press. Read why Jim says, "There really isn't enough room to detail all the features that this book contains. It is the most comprehensive and well written book on the subject that I've come across."

Click here to order Photoshop 7 WOW! Book from amazon.comThey are all over the place. Everyone and their brother has written a book on Photoshop 7. You could spend so much time looking over the different titles that you'd never spend any time learning photoshop.

Most of them are simply the printed version of every Photoshop site on the internet with most of the same examples. If I see one more tutorial on how to make a Gel Button I'll scream!

Jack Davis is an award winning designer/photographer who has been involved in computer graphics for over 20 years. He has a Masters and Masters of Fine Arts in Digital Imagery (who knew you could get a degree in that!). I know this because it says so on the back cover.

His book is completely different from all the other Photoshop 7 tomes I've read in the last few months. The first thing that I noticed was its unconventional layout. It has an Index and Table of Contents, but it just doesn't look like it does. Instead, it feels like you just "dive right into the program head first and let's get crackin'!" I always have a little pause when I see a chapter entitled "How to Use this Book". It always seems a little presumptuous. Now a lot of instructional books have that chapter, but believe me, read it for this one!

It took some time to get used to the way information is presented here. It was as if you went to dinner at your Italian Grandma's house (Or Jewish, or Greek, or any other nationality that has grandma's that like to overfeed you) This book is like a huge buffet. There is so much between the covers that it's almost hard to figure out where to start. Simply thumbing through the pages will get you seriously lost. There is a route that you really have to follow, and after a couple of chapters, you realize that this book isn't like an owners' manual for Photoshop 7, it's the SERVICE Manual. I don't believe that Davis leaves one single stone unturned in his descriptions and examples of PS Functions.

At the beginning of each section (chapter) there is a separate little table of contents that shows the tips and hints that are in that section. They are context specific so if you're reading the chapter on Combining Images (Chapter 4) the 35 tips and hints that are indexed in the beginning are specific for that process. These are GOOD tips too, not the silly, "Use the Alt Key" instructions that a lot of the so called tut books try to pass off as valuable information.

As a matter of fact, I think if you took all the tips and hints that are in the book, you could make another book that would still be better than 95% of what's out there today.

Do I like this book? Yes, absolutely, but it still gives me a strange feeling when I'm reading it. It's just SO full of information, every single page has either a photo, or an illustration or a diagram on it. It's really like a sensory overload. It's not what I'd call a book that you can just casually skim through. You really have to pay attention.

This book is like a 3lb Steak dinner (there goes the food analogy again! ) You can't eat it all at once, but every single bite sure tastes good and you can keep coming back for more (substitute TOFU for our Vegan friends). The pages are slick high quality paper that will stand up to repeated thumbing through, and the examples are breathtaking at some points.

Davis' background is evidently in the print industry as the book is heavily focused on printing strategies for your PS work. Nothing wrong with that, if you don't need to understand CMYK color then skip over it, but there is a lot here that can help you make your work cleaner and more pleasing to the eye.

In following the convention of the better instructional books, a companion CD is included in the back. On it are examples and work throughs for every chapter and example in the book. Also included is a very nice set of pre-sets that you can use to speed you along and obviate the necessity of inventing your own. The pre-sets are well done and actually useful. Having over 200 layer styles available to you will keep you busy into the wee hours trying them all.

Special effects for type and graphics is explored quite nicely and a number of different effects are well explained. The ubiquitous chrome and rusted surfaces are given a thorough going over and the examples are some of the best I've ever seen anywhere. Painting techniques are covered (wet on wet particularly well). Virtually every special effect that you could conceive of is dealt with in one form or another. The sections are so coherently presented that they remove any confusion you might have about the process.

I'd like to mention that the examples of artwork are some of the best Photoshop work that I've ever seen. There are galleries spread throughout the book and each artist showcased brings a different technique and style to the table. There is enough information pertaining to each of the gallery images to give you a solid grasp of how elements can be assembled, massaged, and combined to deliver a dazzling array of effects and moods. One particular gallery section has some photo-realistic work that was simply astounding. While constructed primarily in Illustrator, the artist used Photoshop to enhance and define the elements.

COW Rating: There really isn't enough room to detail all the features that this book contains. It is the most comprehensive and well written book on the subject that I've come across.

I have to give Photoshop 7 WOW! Book a 5 cow rating, it is simply superb.

Jim Harvey

JHV Digital

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