The Scent of Stamina
First, my abject apologies for being so absent as of late. I, Colleen, David, Tim -- as well as names you don't know, like Toby, Carol, Ron, Julie, and the splendidly monikered Spink (I monikered her, which is why it's so splendid) -- have been so thoroughly buried by this Channels & Masks book (see below) that there is literally no time for anyone on the team to scratch his or her respective butt. We keep asking each other, "When you get a spare sec, will you please scratch my butt?" But the response is always, "Are you kidding? If I had that kind of time, I'd scratch my own butt. It's so itchy!"
Seriously, for the first time in I don't know how long, I went for 4 entire days without a shower. My beard had grown so far up my face, it was threatening to become one with my eyebrows.
But as disgusting as I was (I'm slightly cleaner now), the book is beautiful. A work of tortured but honest art. Here's a tiny view of a sample page spread. This is the actual InDesign view, with my editors comments (those from Carol and Spink) out in the margins. To see it in legible dimensions, just click on it.
What I love about this particular spread is the beauty of the pages, the detail of the information, and the sheer quantity of errors. I mean, one of my editors made a spelling error -- which I love because it means we're all in this together.
But here's why I'm writing. First, to tell you we're in the home stretch. The DVD went out on Saturday. (It includes the very first Photoshop CS4 Flash panel -- for which I received assistance from Adobe's own John Nack and Jeff Tranberry, thus rendering me grateful -- which I'll post soon.) And the book goes to the printer on Wednesday.
Second, this thing is gorgeous. If I were to hang my hat, this is the book I would hang it on. Why? Because I address questions that I have not seen adequately (or accurately) discussed:
- How is it that Photoshop is actually a grayscale image editor? And how does that work to your advantage?
- What is a mask? Versus a marching ant? Versus an alpha channel? How do these features fit together?
- How does the magic wand really work? I know. it just the wand, but still wouldn't it be nice to have that finally documented properly?
- What does antialiasing truly mean? What is real antialiasing and what is false? Is it softening (no), smoothing (yes), or something much larger (yes!)?
- What are the basic steps to masking an image? Down to the last tendrils of hair. Plus, why is it that hair is actually one of the easier things to mask?
- How do you make the image select itself?
- You have the best mask that you could possibly achieve, but your image still looks awful when placed against a different background. What do you do? Don't worry, I have you covered like you wouldn't believe.
- How do Photoshop's standard 25 blend modes really work? Down to the nitty gritty, what is going on with them? I tell you. I explain the behaviors, the uses, the symmetries and asymmetries, the strangeness, the mystic powers of the Fill Opacity Eight. Even some occasional mathematics. Don't be afraid -- they're fun equations like this:
- What about the specialty masks? Layer masks, luminance masks, density masks, corrective masks, edge masks. How do they work and how do you use them? All revealed.
- How do you isolate the elements in a group portrait and make sure that each and every person looks his or her absolute best in the final composition?
- What can I do with channels? How do RGB and CMYK work? Where does Lab fit? What the heck is going on with Multichannel? How does the Channel Mixer compare with Black & White? Prepare to be a channel impresario!
- How do you go about mixing channels with the Calculations command? Why is Calculations that one command that is going to take your work to the next level?
- How do the Add and Subtract blend modes work, down to the underlying mechanics of Offset and Scale?
- Why is it that adding two pixels make them brighter and yet multiplying them makes them darker? How do "standardized" luminance levels drive everything inside Photoshop?
- The pen tool one of the few tools that does not "see" a single pixel inside your image. Why is it that its lack of vision makes it one of the best masking tools in all of Photoshop?
- How do you select the "tough stuff," that one image that resists everything you've tried so far? None of the other books I've seen descends into the dark arts of masking. This one does. Advanced calculations, High Pass masking, and arbitrary maps are all here, in glorious detail.
Suffice it to say, pre-order it now and you'll have it in your hot little hands by this time next month. Isn't she the prettiest thing you ever saw?