book reviews

Commercial Photoshop Retouching in the Studio: A Guide to Professional Photo Retouching and Compositing by Glenn Honiball

Whether you're a seasoned Photoshop pro or a casual user attempting to revitalize the family photo album (or somewhere in between), this book will be an invaluable resource. Beware, however, that there are no quick fixes to some of the more serious retouch challenges.

For example, Honiball states that the best option for sharpening image details in a particularly fuzzy image is to "painstakingly draw in paths around the troublesome area". Those of us who have been using Photoshop for a while have unfortunately discovered this phenomenon — it can frequently take hours to achieve a satisfactory result when attempting to enhance a problem image.

Taking, in effect, the opposite approach to Scott Kelby, whose shoot-from-the-hip writing and Photoshop-user style gets right to the point in rapid fashion, Honiball exhaustively details the steps it takes to achieve a specific effect or correction. Although at times didactic, he nevertheless creates a thorough and informative textbook, rather than the educational comic that Kelby or Russell Brown might offer (not that there's anything wrong with that!, to put Jerry Seinfeld's immortal words in a different context).

The book is illustrated throughout with well-chosen color screenshots, most of which are presented in cinematic fashion — a true step-by-step approach which is extremely effective. It's like watching a video you can pause or continue at the flip of a page.

If you need to know how to prepare artwork for a printer, retouch photos like a pro, or create photo-illustrations for the commercial marketplace, you can't do better than this book. However, when using this book to guide you through your own projects on a computer, I would advise keeping one hand on your mouse, and one on a Mocha Cappuccino Grande.

Reviewed by: Bruce Frank
O'Reilly Media
August 22, 2005