book reviews

The Art of Photoshop: CS2 Edition by Daniel Giordan

Do not buy this book if you are a Novice Photoshop User.

From my experiences with art I can discern 2 types of artists. The first is a practical artist. The practical artist works on projects giving artistic touches to mundane objects that compliment the pieces and make them attractive. I pride myself as being a practical artist. I try my best to wrap functionality and use into an interesting package that works and is appealing. The second type of artist is the Emotional Artistic artist. This artist has the profound need to explain their work with a violent wind of flourished language and garble that inevitably says nothing at all. This artist is so unbelievably egotistic that they end up offending everyone around them. It almost makes you want to hug the poor misunderstood souls. This book "The Art of Photoshop" caters to the Emotional Artistic Artist and their tortured minds.

This book is 300+ pages and touches on pretty much every aspect of Photoshop, however I think the CS2 part is misleading. I didn't see one point in the book that was exclusive to Photoshop CS2. You could probably do everything in this book with an older version of Photoshop. This book is specifically geared toward the aesthetic portion of graphic design. After reading the sections over and over I'm not even sure if this book explains anything. I feel that it only explains how Daniel Giordan completed his work.

I like the layout of the book and it is quite visually appealing. There are 19 chapters with topics ranging from Distortion Filters to Working with Lighting Effects. The Lesson Plan of teaching Photoshop is simply by creating a piece of art in Photoshop, and then explaining the process of making the art. Now, that sounds like a great method to teach by, but unfortunately the practicality of such a method is completely useless in my opinion (no matter how great the lesson is). Why? Because Art is subjective and personal. You should inspire art, not teach someone how to replicate your own.

Some may argue my point since the book is named "The *Art* of Photoshop." But how often do artist say to themselves I wish I had Photoshop so I could replicate someone else's butt kicking art!!"? I don't know that answer but with this book you get to learn how to replicate Daniel Giordan's butt kicking artwork - 19 pieces total.

Here's an excerpt of the book and a preview of just what I'm talking about. -

*Chapter 15: Mastering the Distortion Filters* While working on /Tree House/, I found myself compelled to do the unexpected and push against the anticipated next step. The image itself is a surreal juxtaposition of a house in a tree with what could easily be mistaken for a flaming baby. At first glance, this unexpected combination seems to fit in well with the melting clocks and flaming giraffes of the surrealists.

The background is a jumble of tree branches that bend, twist, and almost melt as they wrap around the frame of a traditional white clapboard house. The sun breaks through the tree branches, and the entire image is steeped in a warm, soothing green. In the middle of everything is the glowing putto figure, slightly distorted and sitting uncomfortably on a branch. The lines of the figure play off the geometry created in the background, to the point that the vertical leg anchors the entire lower half of the image. /Tree House/ is a study of created and denied symmetry - which makes it slightly unsettling.

So, there is a look into this fine book about how to make a picture of a house in a tree that has a flaming baby in front of it. Awesome if you want to make a picture like that, but in most cases you won't be paid to make such a picture. However if you do have a client that needs such a picture *BUY THIS BOOK*.

Finally. I will say that this book does have great tutorials on making art. The tutorials are clear and precise and really go in depth with Photoshop's features. It does a good job of teaching about layers, effects, masking, brushes and photo adjustments like contrast, hues, curves and much more, which are very good things to learn about even if they teach you how to use them while making goofy pictures.

*In conclusion*, the $50 Dollar price tag is a little hefty to only learn how to make foofy art collages with Photoshop. There are plenty of other resources out there that are cheaper or free and give users a practical knowledge of the program and truly help artists learn about Photoshop. Art is such a individualistic action and trying to encapsulate art and photoshop together into a book is very silly and unattainable.

Buy this book only if you:

  1. Want to use Photoshop to make Art
  2. Are a fan of Daniel Giordan's artwork
  3. Have read every other book about Photoshop and are in desperate need of yet another Photoshop Resource.

John Harbison is a 10 year Photoshop User and Head Graphic Designer for 3rd Dimension Design. See this and other reviews and Photoshop Tutorials at his site

Reviewed By: John Harbison
Sams Publishing