I and my crackerjack team are putting the final touches on what has traditionally been one of the bestselling titles on Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop CS4 One-on-One. Those of you familiar with previous editions of the book know that I start things off, in the very first lesson, by comparing Photoshop to the Nine Circles of Hell. The idea is, Photoshop is an extraordinarily complicated and sprawling program. With few exceptions, new users are intimidated as Hell by it. But just as Dante survived his encounter with The Devil, we will tour the depths of Photoshop, stare it right in the eye, and emerge from the experience unscathed. (Maybe we’ll even see Brutus!)
For years, I’ve been trying to come up with a satisfactory figure to illustrate the discussion, and now I finally have. Behold the newly renovated Ninth Circle:
(The actual illustration comes from a fellow named Achim Prill. My contribution was some recoloring and, of course, the text.)
Can’t you just hear The Beast bellowing at you to join Him in His Dark Imaging Lair? As you struggle to form your wordless response, download the high quality PDF and read the introduction for yourself.
Interestingly, even tho the actual Nine Circles discussion takes up just a few sentences (and now a nice graphic!) of a 500+ page book, it frequently comes up as a topic of discussion with the good folks at Adobe. Mostly, they laugh it off. Awkwardly, but still, they laugh. But a couple of folks have been downright mournful about it. So much so that I’ve been tempted to replace the current intro with my original outlined idea, “Why Photoshop Likes You,” in which I would say something to the effect of, “Yeah, I know. At first glance, Photoshop comes off as a monster. But it’s really a pussycat when you get to know it.”
But I’ve received so much feedback over the years from readers, thanking me for acknowledging that Photoshop is hard from the outset and then laying it out in a way that makes sense, that I’ve decided watering down the message would be a disservice. And so, until Photoshop gets easier to learn, the intro stays. Photoshop’s forthcoming upgrade is not easier, so out of utmost respect, the Nine Circles get an upgrade as well.
Incidentally, don’t be thinking I’m somehow trashing the program or suggesting that it should be easy to learn. It could be streamlined, there’s no doubt. But for Adobe to gloss up the program at the expense of versatility and pure, unbridled power, that doesn’t interest me at all. Fear has its purposes. It motivates, it clarifies, it focuses the mind.
And so in One-on-One, we fight the good fight together.